Colorado Resort Adventure Guide

South Central Region
Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun, Colorado Springs, CO

by Tom Stockman
Portrait of Will Rogers

Will Rogers, the top-notch Cherokee Indian cowboy, humorist, political commentator, roper, & entertainer of the 1920's and 1930's, was a friend of US Presidents, hollywood luminaries, enlightened industrialists of the US, and many others. His unfortunate death in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935 saddened many, including philanthropist & friend Spencer Penrose, who made his fortune mostly in mining & developed high-profile, luxurious attractions in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Penrose Spencer and his wife Julie paid for designing and building the Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun, a spectacular medieval castle-like tower on the side of Cheyenne Mountain, just above the world-class Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It was completed in 1937 and also houses the tombs of Penrose & Julie Spencer, as well as their long-term friends Harry Leonard & Horace Devereux. The tombs & exhibits about them comprise the bottom level of the tower.

Tower Entrance of Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun

The tower was already under construction (it started in 1934) when Will Rogers was killed in the 1935 crash. Penrose decided to dedicate the tower as a shrine to Rogers, and was completed in 1937.

The tower itself was put together using 5,000 cubic yards of stone quarried from a single rock of granite taken from Cheyenne Mountain. 200,000 pounds of steel and 20 wagonloads of cement were used to strengthen the structure, neither wood nor nails were used in the tower's construction.

The Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun is five stories tall. Even the views from the observation deck at the base of the structure are impressive.

The tower contains artwork and photographs, including a wall mural that's over 340 square feet that depicts the early history of the Pikes Peak region, painted by famous Sante Fe artist Randall Davey. It was carefully restored in 1993.

The middle three stories have many lookout points, but the real treat are the commemorative photographs and displays about Will Rogers. The photographs, articles, & photos throughout the tower's stairways, rooms, and enclaves provide a fitting tribute and give glimpses into this amazing man's life and the history of his times.

View Of Colorado Springs from Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun

At the top is an observation platform sitting 8,136 feet above sea level, providing stunning views of Colorado Springs and Colorado's eastern plains and the Front Range mountains of the Pikes Peak region.

The Shrine Of The Sun also hosts a set of Westminster Chimes that ring out every quarter hour and can be heard in the nearby Broadmoor Valley neighborhood of Colorado Springs. At night, the lights of the Shrine shine out above Colorado Springs & remind the residents of the Spencer's many contributions to the region.

Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun is administered by the El Pomar Foundation, founded by Penrose & Julie Spencer to oversee the many philanthropic projects founded by the Spencers for benefitting the Colorado, Colorado Springs, & Pikes Peak region communities.

Adverse weather conditions does sometime close the shrine, almost always during the winter months.

  • Admission: Free with Zoo tickets ($12 adults, $10 children) or $NN
  • Hours: Early March to Labor Day, entrance from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, otherwise 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
  • Directions: In Colorado Springs, take I-25 to Circle (exit 138), go west to the Broadmoor Hotel.
    Turn right at the hotel and follow the signs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo,
    then drive 1-1/2 miles further on the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway.
  • Phone: (719)633-9925


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