Pikes Peak: Things to See & Do

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.

By: Colorado.com Staff Writer
Updated: March 22, 2024

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, plus 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.

Pikes Peak Train

Earn some bragging rights with a ride on the highest cog railway in the world when you climb aboard The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This cherry red train takes you up 9 miles of track — pass thick conifer forests, aspen groves and more — to the top of America's Mountain, while conductors delight with history and lore about the peak and local area. Stretch your legs and soak up the sights at the Pikes Peak Summit House, where you can snack on famous high-altitude donuts and other treats as you explore interactive exhibits in the visitor center. 

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.

Note: Visitors who want to drive to the summit park in the top lot from late May to late September need to make an online reservation. There's also a complimentary shuttle from designated parking lots along the highway. Find more details about the highway

Cycling to the Summit

Biking the highway is also an option for the extremely hardy rider. Find regulations and safety tips. Worried about the uphill climb? Opt for a trip with an outfitter like Bike Pikes Peak, who will shuttle you and your bike (or provide you with one) to the top of the summit so you can enjoy the easy 7,000-foot descent. You and your bike can also ride the Pikes Peak Train to the top and zip down.

Hiking Trails

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 each summer. Spectators gather to watch the racers on the historic 12.42-mile track, which climbs more than 4,500 feet and includes 156 turns.

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