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Pikes Peak Sunrise Openings

Sunrise from Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Sunrise Openings

The time has come for all early-rising fourteener enthusiasts to rejoice — the Pikes Peak Highway has kicked off its monthly sunrise openings right as we head into the summer season. That means you’ll be able to drive to the summit of America’s Mountain before the sun has broken the horizon and begun its journey across those gorgeous blue Colorado skies. We have the download on dates, times and what you can expect with each special opening. 

Sunrise Opening Dates

Sunrise openings only occur on specific days. We’ll break them down more later on but for 2023 you can count on sunrise services (weather permitting) on the following dates:

  • National Donut Day – Friday, June 2, 2023
  • National Parks and Recreation Day – Friday, July 21, 2023
  • National Mountain Climbing Day – Tuesday, August 1, 2023
  • 9/11 Commemorative Day – Monday, Sept. 11, 2023
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Monday, Oct. 9, 2023


The gate opens at 4:45 a.m. and closes at 6:30 a.m. 4:45 a.m. You must purchase a timed entry permit and pay admission fees in advance. There will be no option to pay at the gate. There will also be no access to the North Slope Recreation area during the event. The new Summit House will be open during the event which means one very excellent thing … hot and fresh, world-famous donuts.

A Quick Guide to Sunrise Openings

Man watching the sunrise on top of Pikes Peak

There are a lot of benefits to attending the rare sunrise opening on Pikes Peak. The first being that you’ll get to see the sun rise from as close to the top of the world as you can get without gear or a long trek in Southern Colorado. There’s something truly magical about watching the first beams break the horizon line as the whole of the Pikes Peak region rolls out before you like a patchwork quilt.

In addition to watching the sun rise, you’ll also have a way better chance of having clear weather if you go early in the day. Afternoons on Pikes Peak can get dicey when it comes to lightning and cloudy conditions. Besides the occasional foggy or hazy day, there’s a pretty good chance your visit will have clear skies that let you see for miles. Keep in mind that it will be brisk that early in the morning. Dress warm, especially if you want to walk around the interpretive trail that rings the summit or take a hike after the sun has risen. Gloves and hats are really important and you should consider skipping the flip-flops if you’re not a fan of cold toes. 

The last reason the love the sunrise opening on Pikes Peak is that you’ll have a rare opportunity to beat the summer crowds. Not everyone wants to be up so early in the morning, so you’ll have less competition than you do during peak hours. Now, you’ll still be cruising to the top with other early birds, so it’s not a private experience, but it will be less busy. On a regular day, the number of people on the mountain accumulates because some people stay several hours and add to the numbers on the mountain. When you head up right when the gate opens, you’re journeying up a fresh mountain as one of the first visitors of the day. You can’t beat that when visiting one of the most popular mountains in the world. 

Sunrise Opening Days 2023

Donut with sunrise behind it on Pikes Peak

National Donut Day – Friday, June 2, 2023

Is there a better way to celebrate National Donut Day than a visit to the home of the world-famous, high altitude Pikes Peak donuts? You can rest assured that there will be hot donuts waiting at the top when you get there. 

National Parks and Recreation Professionals Day – Friday, July 21, 2023

Pikes Peak itself is not a national park, but it is located in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and it is also a National Historic Landmark. On National Parks and Recreation Professionals Day, you’ll have a chance to give thanks to the crew managing the mountain, wrangling the marmots and educating visitors. Every beautiful space in Colorado looks that way because of the professionals who work hard to keep our lands pristine, protected and safe. 

National Mountain Climbing Day – Tuesday, August 1, 2023

National Mountain Climbing day celebrates this very Colorado sport. You’re more than welcome to ascend the peak via Barr Trail if you have the experience and endurance. If you like, however, there’s no shame in driving up and high-fiving hikers as they reach the summit. Maybe buy them some donuts for extra recognition. 

9/11 Commemorative Day – Monday, Sept. 11, 2023

September 11 is a solemn day in the United States. The Pikes Peak sunrise opening offers ample time to reflect while surrounded by the panorama that inspired America the Beautiful. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Monday, Oct. 9, 2023

Colorado’s favorite 14er was once known more commonly as Tavá Kaa-vi — the Sun Mountain. The mountain was named by the indigenous Nuche tribe, known today as the Ute. The mountain was and is a special place for the Nuche and there are many sites, some disclosed and some kept private that show their historic presence on the mountain. Pay a visit to the peak during the sunrise event and take time to read over some of the fascinating history of the Nuche. 

Please enjoy this very rare experience — you don’t get many chances to hit the summit at dawn in the Pikes Peak region. Pick the day that fits your family best and have a lovely time watching the world wake up together.

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