About Pikes Peak

14,115 FEET OF BEAUTY, RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD

Top things you need to know about

Peak pointers

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 13 & 16 to help with parking congestion.

Tours

If you don’t have your own vehicle or are not comfortable summiting Pikes Peak by yourself, try Adventures Out West Jeep Tours or Pikes Peak Tours by Gray Line for a ride in style!

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!

Cost:

Exertion Meter:
Moderate

LOCAL'S TIP:

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.

Cost:

Exertion Meter:
High

LOCAL'S TIP:

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.

Cost:

Exertion Meter:
Extreme

LOCAL'S TIP:

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!

Cost:

Exertion Meter:
Low

LOCAL'S TIP:

3-4 hours

LOCAL'S TIP:

Be sure to call for reservations!

FAQs

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!

No reservations are needed if you are planning to drive yourself or hike.

We highly recommend you make reservations for Challenge Unlimited-Pikes Peak by BikeAdventures Out West and Pikes Peak Tours by Gray Line.

Budget at least three hours to drive the highway. Tours typically take about 4 hours, Biking down the Peak is approximately 6 hours, and hiking the Peak is anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days, depending on fitness level.

Pikes Peak is one of the more difficult fourteeners to climb in Colorado. We recommend at least 2 gallons of water per person, heavy duty hiking boots, plenty of food, and lots of layers of clothing.  Bear spray is probably a good idea too.

The purpose of this policy is to define the minimum vehicle and bus requirements and restrictions to ensure the safety of visitors and staff on the Pikes Peak Highway.

  1. Cars and Non-Commercial Truck Restrictions
    1. Automatic Transmissions: Must have a “1” or “L” on the shifter to be allowed on the highway. Hybrid Transmissions may have a “B” which is also acceptable. Transmissions showing an “S” or “M” must demonstrate that this shifter will allow the transmission to be locked into 1st gear.
  2. Bus and RV Requirements and Restrictions
    1. Wheelbase: Bus or RV wheelbase cannot exceed 19 ft or 228 inches and can not exceed 24′ in overall length for any bus or RV operating on the Pikes Peak Highway.
    2. Brakes:
      1. Buses operating with less than a 21-passenger capacity may operate with standard hydraulic brake systems. Examples: Gray line or People Movers
      2. Buses operating over 21 passengers must have air brakes with a sufficient retarder system or engine brake. Examples: Durham, school activity buses or church buses
    3. Operators
      1. All bus operators must have the required C.D.L. permit for the size bus and load they are carrying.
      2. Out of state bus operators and vehicles must be pre-approved by the Pikes Peak Manager and must meet the above requirements. Approval must be requested, in writing, a minimum of 14-days prior to the planned visit.
      3. All operators are encouraged to have experience driving high-altitude mountain highways.
    4. Commercial Coaches or Charters: Most vehicles will not meet the above requirements and are discouraged
  3. Scooters
    1. Any scooter that meets the motorcycle motor vehicle regulations according to the Colorado State Statute are allowed on the Pikes Peak Highway.
    2. More than 50cc or 4476 watts
    3. Certificate of title and vehicle registration (license plate and title)
    4. Proof of valid insurance

 

Prohibited Vehicles

  1. No Pull-Behind Trailers or Campers regardless of size. This includes bicycle and motorcycle trailers.
  2. No ATV or OHV’s allowed
  3. No Mopeds or Scooters that do not meet the requirements above.

Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain Staff reserves the right to refuse any vehicle access to the Pikes Peak Highway if they do not meet these requirements.

The summit of Pikes Peak is typically 30-40 degrees colder than it is at the base.

A lot of folks are bothered by the altitude and there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it.  We recommend giving yourself a few days to get used to the elevation of Colorado Springs before you head up the mountain.

Be sure to drink lots of water, and even start a couple of days ahead of time. Dehydration is the leading component of altitude sickness.  Eating before you go up is a good idea too.

The highway is open year around, depending on weather. We recommend you call 719-385-7325 for road conditions before heading out for the day.

During construction of the new Pikes Peak Summit House Complex, mandatory shuttles will be running from mile 13 and 16 of the 19 mile highway to help with parking at the summit.  If you have children in carseats, passengers with ADA requirements or 10+ people in your vehicle, they will let you summit in your own vehicle.

Pikes peak

By the numbers

0 ft
Official elevation of Pikes Peak
0
Feet above the city of Colorado Springs
0
Altitude gain of the Manitou Incline in 3/4 of a mile
0 º
Difference between the top and base of the mountain

You're never far away

COlorado SPrings

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!

Denver

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!

Cañon city

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 – America's Mountain

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!

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