Standing like some arcane fantasy tower, looming over Colorado Springs, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is stone spire built as a scenic destination, and almost coincidentally named after America’s funniest cowboy.
The tall stone tower was completed in 1937, but during its construction, the tall spire did not have a name. It seems to have initially been dreamt up simply as a scenic lookout point, but as it was being built, vaudevillian cowboy humorist Will Rogers tragically died in a plane crash. Rogers happened to be close friends with the creator of the tower, Spencer Penrose. With Rogers’ death, Penrose wanted to honor his longtime friend, and realizing that he was creating a monumental tower anyway, decided to dedicate it to the famed humorist.
Standing 80 feet high, the completed tower has multiple floors accessible via a central winding stair. There are five floors in the tower, with the ground floor displaying murals depicting local history, three of the floors celebrating the life of Will Rogers, and a basement-level shrine where the ashes of Penrose and his wife are interred.
Outside of the tall tower, bronze busts of both Rogers and Penrose greet visitors. The view from the tower is nothing short of breathtaking, with grand vistas of Colorado Springs spread out all around. The Shrine of the Sun is now located on the grounds of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and is accessible with entry to the zoo. Its a bit more solemn than one might expect a shrine dedicated to a humorist to be, but that just means your laughs will be that much louder.