U.S. Air Force Academy noon meal formation
When my husband said that the one thing we must do on our trip was visit the US Air Force Academy, I thought we were just taking another one of his military-inspired detours. But it turns out this stop was one of the most unexpected on our trip to Colorado! We drove for exactly an hour south of Denver and arrived at a line of cars waiting to be checked. After a cadet checked our trunk, we slowly drove through the mountainous campus, soaking in the gorgeous landscape and stared at the man who looked like he had ran a marathon already and wasn't about to let up. My husband kept talking about a lunch formation, and I really didn't understand until we parked and walked through the short mountain path to a large terrace (where the Cadet Chapel is located, fyi), where we could see a sea of green and blue. Wow. I had never seen a military formation this large in person, and it sort of just left my mouth gaping while I snapped as many photos as I could.And since we went on 9/11, the lunch formation turns out to be the Memorial service as a part of the Class of 1976 reunion. Everyone stood in silence as we watched that flag at half staff, remembering those who were lost in the Twin Towers.As you stand on the terrace, you can't help but turn around and stare at the looming chapel. The architecture is spectacular from the outside, and I just couldn't wait to see what it was like inside!Once the service was over, all the cadets and alumni orderly jogged towards the cafeteria. With so many people, I was thinking it would take them hours to feed all of them! To our surprise, lunch finished in just an hour!The Cadet Chapel is really unique in that it combines four different places of worship. The Protestant chapel is up top, while the Catholic chapel and the Buddhist and Jewish temples were below. Unfortunately the Buddhist and Jewish temples were not open to the public.We first entered the Catholic chapel, and right when I opened the door, I was in awe. It was like stepping into a different world filled with hues of red and yellow. After seeing this, I was wondering what the upper Protestant part looked like...And it was just as impressive. With soaring blue ceilings and colorful stained glass patterning, the outside architecture doesn't give the inside justice. This is honestly one of the most beautiful chapels I've ever seen! Finally, don't forget to turn around and look up at the organ lit up in purple and pink hues!I highly suggest anyone in the Denver area to make a stop at the US Air Force Academy. It's a quick yet memorable experience!
- Go for the lunch formation, which begins at 11:35 am between mid-August and mid-May. Make sure you get to the entrance a little bit earlier because there may be a line for your car to get checked, and it takes about 5-10 minutes to drive to the Visitor Center on winding roads. Then it's another 5-10 minute walk to the platform where you watch it.
- Maybe bring some binoculars (or a telescoping camera lens) if you want to see the cadets up close.
- Make sure you go to both the Catholic and Protestant portions of the Chapel!