About Pikes Peak
14,115 FEET OF BEAUTY, RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD
Top things you need to know about
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The Cog Railway is presently closed for maintenance and we look forward to their reopening in 2021. Follow this blog for regularly updated information.
Pikes Peak Summit House
Parking is limited on the summit during construction of the new summit house. Shuttles are available June – September, often required from mile 7, 13, & 16 to help with parking congestion.
WAYS TO DO PIKES PEAK
You have lots of options when it comes to enjoying Pikes Peak, this is America’s Mountain after all. We’re here to help you find the perfect one for you and your crew. Whether you want to test your endurance or kick back, release and breathe it all in, we’ve got the adventure for you!
Drive a car
Best if you want to take in the view
If we mapped out the options for enjoying Pikes Peak on a scale of ease and affordability, driving your own vehicle would be the perfect apex where the two converge. By far the most popular way to summit, driving gives you the freedom to take things at your own pace. Stop at every curve of the road, or cruise straight to the clouds, you’re in charge and can spend as much time as you like during the highway’s daily hours. Bring a picnic, fishing poles, and hiking boots to make a day of it!
Time Allowance:3-4 hours
Local's Tip: Be sure to pick up some summit house donuts at 14,115 ft.
Ride a bike
Best if you want to feel the wind in your hair
Remember the joy of riding your bike down a big hill as a kid? Well this is one of the biggest hills around and Challenge Unlimited is the original outfitter to guide you down. Hop in one of their vans for a beautiful drive up America’s favorite mountain. At the summit, they’ll gear you up, including bike, safety gear, and warm layers for that cool mountain air. After some pointers from the guides and a little time to practice shifting gears, you’ll be ready for the ride of your life! Sail through different biomes, watch for wildlife, and laugh like a child with the wind in his face.
Time Allowance:4-5 hours
Local's Tip: Call 719-633-6399 for reservations.
Take a Hike
Best if you want to get your adrenaline pumping.
Pikes Peak is one of many mountains in Colorado over 14,000 feet in elevation, and one of the tougher ones to climb. If you haven’t hiked a 14er before, we highly highly highly recommend you do your homework and PREPARE! This hike is 13.5 miles with an elevation gain of 7,400+ feet — and that’s just up. If you’re from a lower elevation, spend several days in Colorado Springs to acclimate before you go. Bring plenty of water, there’s nowhere to fill up along the trail. And make sure you have a plan to get back down. This one is a real “glute-kicker”! Be prepared so you can conquer this climb and not the other way around.
Time Allowance:6-8 hours (one way)
Local's Tip: One of the best sources for hiking tips are our local outdoor outfitters.
Take a guided tour
Best if you want to sit back and relax
The drive up Pikes Peak is awesome, but the driver has to keep their eyes on the road and not the view. Plus, if you’re not used to mountain driving, the top of the Peak can be a little intimidating. Lucky for you, there are two very experienced tour companies who make the drive everyday and know it like the back of their hand. Adventures Out West Jeep Tours are perfect for those looking for a bit of adventure (it’s in their name!) Their custom Jeeps are specifically built to optimize your view, and they’ve taken every effort to ensure your comfort along the way as well. Pikes Peak Tours by Gray Line, specialize in luxury shuttles and friendly knowledgable tour guides that will be your new best friend by the end of the trip. Take your ride in style — let them keep an eye on the road while you keep an eye on those views!
Time Allowance:3-4 hours
Local's Tip: Be sure to call for reservations!
Regardless of how you conquer the mountain, it’s important to know before you go. Here are a number of questions we get asked all the time, but if you don’t see the answers you’re looking for, click on the chat bar in the bottom right corner of your screen. We’re here Monday through Friday to answer your questions and help you plan the perfect adventure for you!
You’re never far away
The second-largest city in Colorado, Colorado Springs has TONS to see and do including the top park in the United States, Garden of the Gods!
Just a short 1 hour 30min drive South of Denver, Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs has tons to see and do! It’s a perfect day trip or long weekend for you and your family!
From amazing views at the Royal Gorge Bridge to the best whitewater rafting in Colorado, Canon City is a short yet beautiful drive for amazing family fun!
Pikes Peak, located in the Rocky Mountains west of Colorado Springs, is one of the most famous — and most attainable — 14ers in the country.
Clocking in at a magnificent 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is one of the 53 mountains in Colorado that achieves a height of 14,000 feet+, offering it further bragging rights as one of the top 100 mountains in the United States. Talk about altitude!
The History of Pikes Peak
The Early Peoples of the Region
Pikes Peak, which is proudly listed as a national historic landmark, was once home to the Ute Indians and — even earlier — to the Clovis Culture. (According to the official Pike Peak website, the Clovis Culture consisted of early peoples who made their way onto the continent during the last ice age.) Back in the time of the region’s first peoples, the mountain was referred to in many different ways, including Sun Mountain, Sun Mountain Sitting Big and Long Mountain (which was the name given by the Arapaho, who came to Colorado in the 1800s). The Spanish explorers who came to the region referred to the mountain as El Capitan.
The First Attempt
In 1806, many different exploration parties were sent out into the territories to explore the country by President Thomas Jefferson. One of those parties was led by Zebulon Pike (you can see where this is going). Pike and his party “discovered” the mountain in the early fall, referring to it as Grand Peak. Unfortunately for Pike and company, it gets rather cold in the Rockies and the team’s unfortunate decision to attempt to summit the mountain in November resulted in a mission failure.
The First Successful Summit
Pike Peak would not be summited successfully on record until 1820, when naturalist Edwin James climbed it in much more pleasant weather. It wasn’t exactly easy, but they got it done in two days.
For a brief time, the peak would be named after James. Ultimately, though, Pike’s legacy endured. For a while, it was Pike’s Highest Peak, then eventually Pike’s Peak and finally, the simplified Pikes Peak we call it today.
Creating the Accessible 14er — The Early Years
After settlers came into the Pikes Peak region, it wasn’t uncommon for them to ascend the peak by foot or by burro. A road of sorts was built in 1887, allowing a much more pleasant way to travel up to the summit. Most folks preferred a wagon to a donkey if given the option. In 1890, another option came into play as the Cog Railway began to be laid (it was completed in 1891).
Meanwhile, if visitors wanted to avoid the tolls on the road or the cost of the railway, they could travel up the now-named Barr Trail, which was a barely passable prospector route at the time. While you couldn’t fit a donkey on the trail back then, it was affordable (free). Fred Barr, for whom it is now named, would fancy it up from 1914 through 1924. (In the 1940s, it was improved even further to the trail that is so popular for Incliners and hikers today.)
The Accessible 14er — Today
Today, Pikes Peak can be ascended via the Pikes Peak Highway or Barr Trail. Plans remain tentative for the return of a popular third route — the Cog Railroad — in the future. The mountain is home to a recreation area with three lakes, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and the Summit House, where visitors can enjoy a hot, fresh donut and a view. A brand-new Summit House is currently being built, as well.
Pikes Peak is also home to the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb. Hundreds of thousands of people travel to the peak year-round to ascend by vehicle or on foot, making it one of the most accessible mountains in the world!