Pikes Peak, called America’s Mountain for its summit’s role inspiring Katharine Lee Bates to pen “America the Beautiful,” is one of the most popular Colorado Springs attractions.
Visitors to the area have several options for experiencing the iconic 14,115-foot peak’s soaring heights, from a drive up its windy (but safe!) highway to a ride on the cog railway, hikes up its trails and frame-worthy views from nearby Garden of the Gods.
What will you see at the top? Forever! Alpine views stretch out in all directions to encompass reservoirs, summits of shorter peaks, clouds, the Continental Divide, Garden of the Gods, the cities of Woodland Park, Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. On a very clear day, you might even glimpse Denver’s skyscrapers, the Great Plains stretching to Kansas and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range stretching toward New Mexico.
Located on the way to the top, Summit House welcomes visitors with a gift shop, snacks (including famous donuts), sandwiches, salads, coffee and more.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The world’s highest cog train whisks you year-round from the town of Manitou Springs to the peak’s summit — and has been doing so since 1891. The steep three-hour trip covers 8.9 miles of track alongside creeks, through canyons and dense forests and above timberline. It’s recommended that you make reservations a few days in advance on the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway website. *Note: The Pikes Peak Cog Railway will not open for the 2018 season. Visit their website to learn more.
Pikes Peak Highway
Fifteen miles from Colorado Springs on Hwy. 24, you’ll travel 19 miles past the North Pole Home of Santa’s Workshop Amusement Park, a handful of reservoirs, Glen Cove Inn, picnic areas, visitors centers, scenic overlooks and interpretive areas and peekaboo moments with Pikes Peak itself. Tolls for the highway range from $4 to $40 depending on the season and number of passengers in your vehicle. Round trip is a roughly three-hour excursion. Find more details about the highway at pikespeakcolorado.com.
Cycling the highway is also an option for the extremely hardy rider. Find regulations and safety tips.
The most popular route for climbing to the summit is Barr Trail, a 13-mile trek with a gain of 8,000 feet in elevation that starts in Manitou Springs. Its length, high altitude, many switchbacks and unpredictable weather in any season mean only experienced and well-prepared hikers (warm clothing, plenty of water and food) should attempt the full route to the summit. Find information on this and other trails up Pikes Peak.
View from Garden of the Gods
The view of Pikes Peak from the balcony of the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs is one of the best. The free attraction’s red-sandstone formations frame the peak spectacularly, surely one of the reasons the park has been named a National Natural Landmark. Learn more about attractions in Pikes Peak Country >>
Pikes Peak Hill Climb
Since 1916, super-skilled competitors from around the world have gathered to race from Mile 7 on the Pikes Peak Highway to the fourteener’s summit for the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Spectators gather to watch the racers on the historic 12.42-mile track, which climbs more than 4,500 feet and includes 156 turns (June 24, 2018).