About Pikes Peak
14,115 FEET OF BEAUTY, RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD
Quick FAQs for 2018
2018 has thrown us a few curveballs, so here’s the lowdown on some of the changes for this season. The Pikes Peak Highway is open. The Cog Railway is closed until 2020. There are shuttles near the summit on the highway and there are other shuttles you can take if you’d prefer not to drive. Here’s what you need to know.
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 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. Pike did, however, manage to keep all of his men alive and lived to write about his journey and fight in the War of 1812. During that war, Pike was killed while leading troops to Fort York.
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 burrow. 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!
Pikes Peak By the Numbers
Pikes Peak is close to everything
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!
At the foot of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs hosts some of the best places to eat, shop, dine and stay! Extend your trip and stay in this quaint mountain town!
Old Colorado City
Where can you score some of the best shopping and dining in Colorado Springs? Check out Old Colorado City, a great area for a bite and a beverage!
West of Pikes Peak lies the mining town of Cripple Creek. With a rich history and several fun things to do, Cripple Creek is a great day trip.
Just a short 1-hour 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!
Top ways to explore Pikes Peak
Drive a car
Take the 19-mile journey in the comfort of your own vehicle to the clouds! The Pikes Peak Highway climbs more than 6,000 feet in elevation from start to finish!
Ride a bike
Bicycle down Pikes Peak with a trusted tour company or ride your bike to the top on the Pikes Peak Highway.
Pikes Peak offers miles of hiking, everything from gentle strolls to summiting the 14,115 ft peak.
Free Vacation Planner
Build the trip that’s just right for you – get our 2017 2017 Vacation Planner for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. Find the best attractions, save money, and plan your perfect getaway. From activities to restaurants, shops to hotels, we give you the locals’ favorites.