70 miles from Denver, 6 miles from downtown Colorado Springs
- Hours: Pikes Peak is open year round, 7 AM to 7 PM, Memorial Day1 through Labor Day2, with shorter hours in the off-season
- Reservations: Required for the Cog Railway only
- Cost: Depends on how you get there (see below)
- Location: 70 miles from Denver, 6 miles from downtown Colorado Springs, driving directions below
- How Long: Allow about half a day, more if you're hiking
- Best Time to Visit: Spring, summer or fall are best, the road is closed by winter snows, and the Cog Railway runs mid-April through early January only, making partial trips if the route is blocked by snow
Pikes PeakStanding at 14,110 feet, Pikes Peak is number 31 on the list of Colorado's highest mountains, but it's surely number one on the list of its most famous. In fact, Pikes Peak the most-visited mountain in North America, and the second most-visited in the world, after Japan's Mount Fuji.
Getting to the Top of Pikes PeakTo see the Pikes Peak that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write her most famous poem, "America the Beautiful," you can drive, take the cog railway or hike.
- Driving: The 38-mile round trip drive to the summit of Pikes Peak takes about two hours. The road is a toll road (2003 rates: $10 per adult, $5 per child or $35 per car).
- Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway: The 8.9-mile journey to the Pikes Peak summit takes a little over three hours, with a 30 minutes the top. This trip will give you lots of bragging rights: Pikes Peak has the world's highest cog railroad, Colorado's highest railroad and the highest train in the United States. You can reserve online more than 5 days before your trip, or call in any time at (719) 685-5401.
- Hiking Pikes Peak: Visitors in good condition can also hike up on the Barr Trail.
Pikes Peak SummitThe north side of the summit offers the most dramatic views, with a sharp drop off into the aptly-name Bottomless Pit. Start there, walk to the far side near the High Altitude Research Station for a look at the Continental Divide, and end at the viewing platform on the south side.
Summit House, the only restaurant on Pikes Peak, serves thousands of people daily in a facility designed to handle far smaller crowds. Don't waste time in their lines. Instead, bring a picnic with you, and don't forget to bring lots of water. Not only is the air dry, good hydration will help prevent altitude sickness. If you decide to eat at Summit House, try to get there before the train arrives.
A few tips to make your trip more comfortable:
- If you have cardiac or respiratory problems, traveling to the summit is not advised. Don't take babies under 3 months old to the pikes peak summit without your doctor's approval.
- The top of Pikes Peak will be about 30°F colder than Manitou Springs below. Bring warm clothing.
- Many people experience altitude sickness symptoms at the summit, such as a slight headache, nausea or disorientation. Avoiding alcohol and drinking plenty of water will help. Symptoms usually disappear upon returning to lower elevations.
- Be sure your vehicle has at least a half tank of gas when you start up. There are no gas stations at the top.
- Use lower gears (shift an automatic transmission into low). On the way up, it will maintain speed and engine cooling, and on the way down, it will slow your speed and avoid overheating your brakes. If your engine overheats, water stations are 3, 9, 11 and 13 miles past the Gateway.
Getting to Pikes PeakTo reach the toll road, Exit I-25 at exit 141 (Hwy 24), going west toward the mountains, then take the Pikes Peak Toll Road exit and follow the signs to get to Pikes Peak.
To reach the Cog Railway (515 Ruston Avenue, Manitou Springs), Exit I-25 at exit 141 (Hwy 24), going west toward the mountains, and drive four miles to the Manitou Ave. (Manitou Springs) exit. Go west on Manitou Ave. one and one-half miles to Ruxton Ave. Turn left and go three-quarters of a mile.
1 Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May.
2 Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September.