Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun
The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, an operating legacy of El Pomar Foundation, is located on the side of Cheyenne Mountain at 8,000 feet above sea level. Just above the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, it provides an impressive panoramic view of the Pikes Peak Region. Spencer and Julie Penrose commissioned Charles E. Thomas, a local architect to design the monument. The Penroses were instrumental in the development of Colorado Springs, spearheading dynamic projects to beautify and promote the Region.
The Shrine, which stands 114 feet high, was fashioned from a single sheet of Cheyenne Mountain granite and completed in 1937. It was constructed entirely without nails and wood, but was bound together by 200,000 pounds of steel and 30 wagonloads of cement. The name of the Shrine came in part from the illuminated angles of the tower that capture the morning and evening sun and in dedication to actor, philosopher and humorist Will Rogers after his untimely death.
Tragically, Rogers died in a plane crash in 1935. Photographs of Rogers’ life are displayed in the stairways and enclaves. In honor of the Penrose’s love for the Pikes Peak Region the Shrine boasts a 340 square-foot mural painted by renowned Santa Fe artist Randall Davey depicting the history of the Pikes Peak Region. Through a separate entrance in the lower level of the Shrine are the tombs of Julie and Spencer Penrose, founders of the El Pomar Foundation
The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is open to the public year-round weather permitting. The Shrine is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Labor Day through Memorial Day. Visitors may reach the Shrine by way of the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway, which passes through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo located at 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road in Colorado Springs. While admission to the Shrine is free, visitors must purchase a zoo admission to access the road leading to the Shrine. The last admission is sold one hour before closing time. To contact the Shrine, call (719) 578-5367.