Visiting Pikes Peak, Colorado

If you love to hike and go rock climbing, you’ve got to visit Pikes Peak – one of the most popular mountains in Colorado. A part of the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak is located near the city of Colorado Springs. It is named after Zebulon Pike – one of the first explorers to visit the area – and stands at just over 14,000 feet tall. While many people visit the mountain each year, the peak is flooded with visitors during the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In fact, the top of Pikes Peak has even been listed as a national historic landmark.

There are several ways to visit Pikes Peak, CO. When the weather is fair, you can actually drive up most of the mountain. There, you’ll find several different visitor centers on the mountain where you can park the car and explore, as well as several restaurants and gift shops to commemorate the experience. The first center is located six miles up the mountain; the second, at 12 miles; and the third is on the summit itself. Pikes Peak Highway starts at Ute Pass and runs for 19 miles up the mountain. Once you reach the halfway point, the rest of the road is unpaved and drivers must proceed at slow speeds due to the many curves in the road.

If you’d rather not risk driving up the highway, or if the highway is closed because of weather, you can also take the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway. This cog railroad starts at Manitou Springs and offers trips to and from the summit daily – if the weather permits.

Of course, many people prefer to hike up Pikes Peak. For these adventurers, the Barr Trail offers the best route to the summit. It winds its way up the eastern face of the mountain and starts just past the railway depot at Manitou Springs. You can walk, hike, or even ride a bike up the trail. And while most people choose to simply make their way up to the summit, Pikes Peak has played host to some bizarre feats. In 1929, one man used his nose to push a peanut all the way to the summit. It took him three weeks, but he did eventually achieve his goal. Others dribble soccer balls, walk backwards, or dance up the hill. During the annual Pikes Peak Marathon, runners race to the summit and back to the depot.

There was once a ski resort at the top of Pikes Peak, but it’s closed today, as the peak simply doesn’t get the large amounts of snow needed to maintain a ski resort. The resort owners attempted to use artificial snow to make up for what they lacked in natural snowfall, but the high winds blew much of the artificial snow off the peak, and the resort eventually closed. However, don’t think that this means the weather on Pikes Peak is hospitable. The top of Pikes Peak features fairly thin air, and while the peak may not get a lot of snow, it still snows all year round. The wind gusts can be quite powerful, and temperatures are rarely above 40 degrees Fahrenheit – if you plan to make the trek up the mountain, be sure you’re prepared for inclement weather!