Towering 14,110 feet above Colorado Springs, this mountain serves as one of the nation's most famous landmarks. Access to the ... More
Towering 14,110 feet above Colorado Springs, this mountain serves as one of the nation's most famous landmarks. Access to the summit can be obtained via the Pike's Peak Cog Railway, or by driving the Pikes Peak Highway which winds through stands of pine and aspen before cresting above tree line. Katherine Lee Bates was so moved by her visit to the summit that it inspired her to pen "America the Beautiful." Bring a jacket as the temperature is about 20 degrees cooler up top.
The best part was getting to the top and enjoying the view. The worst part was being a little cramped sitting next to someone I did not know while seated on plastic seats (as others have pointed out as well).
Tips to help ensure a great trip:
1) Make reservations online & write down your reservations number to bring the day of your trip;
2) Eat about an hour before your trip so you don't waste time eating at the top of Pikes Peak (indoors in the gift shop -what a waste that would be. Remember your purchasing this trip to get a chance you wont often get in your life - a view from the top of Pikes Peak! Sure the views on the way up and down are great too, use those times to sip on water and snack on some fudge or donuts;
3) Arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled cog reservation to get a good seat with your whole party together and even to ensure you still have your reservation. As you walk in to the desk to get your tickets, you may notice people sitting on benches around you or standing around. They are hoping you and others would not make it in time for your reservation. That would free up a seat they can then purchase;
4) Bring a warm jacket/coat (no need for a down jacket in the summer but it does get very cold and windy up there so bring something very warm or layer well. You be the judge of what you can tolerate since it's about 30-40 degrees cooler than in the valley. Those that don't bring coats end up spending time in the cog or in the gift shop, missing the beauty of the Pikes Peak at the top!;
5) Drink water ahead of time (1 bottle an hour);
6) Bring water onto the cog railway to sip, it's allowed;
7) Go to the bathroom when you hear the last call before they begin the trip on the cog railway to the top;
8) Once you get to the top of Pikes Peak, go straight to the bathroom if you have to or you might spend a good portion of your time waiting in line to go later.
9) Resist any purchases at the gift shop and spend the time outside on the Peak, take a LOT of photos too;
10) Walk slowly when at the top of Pikes Peak or you may feel light headed.
11) If you have 5 min. to spare, get the fudge. I was not crazy about the donuts. They remind me of some gluten and casein free donuts I used to get my son years ago. They are good but I thought the fudge was even better. If you can afford to, get both and let us know what you think.
Have a wonderful trip! I loved it all!
It was beautiful and I will go back. My brother-in-law drove and my sister insisted I sit up front for the best view. It's scary and incredible too. Bought a T shirt from one of the shops - "real women don't need guard rails" I love it! O we were stopped for construction so I got out to play in the unmelted snow - it was June!
I wanted to visit the Peak but, having driven other mountain roads before, I was concerned about the road to the top. Would I at some points feel uncomfortably close to the edge? All of the reviews I read talked primarily about the scenery, so I want to focus my review on 'the drive'. The road to the top is approximately 20 miles from the entry point (where you pay a fee) to the top. It is a 2 lane winding road all the way. Most of it is paved; there is a small section of several miles about half way up that is hard packed gravel. For the purposes of this review, I'll divide the road into two sections. The first section (about the first 12-13 miles) runs from the toll booth to the treeline (the point on the mountain above which trees can't grow). The second section (the last 6-7 miles) runs from the treeline to the top. The first section (toll booth to the treeline) I was fine. 95% of the way the trees are so thick on either side you rarely see the view (can't see the forest for the trees). Even though I knew I was climbing and there were no guardrails I still felt comfortable, because the trees are so thick I had a sense that even if something happened and I left the road, the trees would quickly stop me. Above the tree line, however, was a different story. Because you are traversing back and forth across the mountain face to gain elevation, there are a number of hairpin turns (switchbacks). At the turns were the only places guardrails were placed. There are no guardrails anywhere else. Were there places where the shoulder was wide enough that you could pull off to enjoy the view? Yes. But there were also places where the shoulder (the area between the white stripe painted on the side of the pavement and the edge) was maybe 12 inches wide, and all I could see when I looked past the edge of the road was sky and clouds. There were several areas like this, and if I added them all together I would guess they totalled a mile or two. It did made me uncomfortable, and I could tell the driver in front of me was uncomfortable, too: he/she straddled the double yellow line from the treeline to the top, moving over only for the occasional car coming the other way. I had to ask at the tollbooth and they recommended I use either low or 3rd most of the time. I would estimate I was in low 1/3 of the time going up and 75% of the time coming down. Low was perfect on the way down; I was typically moving within the speed limit (which ranged between 10 mph and 20 mph) and rarely had to touch the brakes. There was a mandatory full stop about half way down where the rangers check your brakes; if you read the fine print on the handout you get when you enter the park you will see that the rangers have the right to make you pull over and let your brakes cool off for 30 minutes. There were multiple posted signs on the way down that said 'Hot brakes fail! Use low gear.' I think the primary danger on the drive up and back is not driving off the edge but 'the other guy'. Even though there weren't a lot of other vehicles on the weekday I drove up, I saw multiple examples of bad driving: cars going a little too fast around the hairpin turns and crossing the yellow lines, a car crossing the double yellow to pass a truck, cars pulling across traffic to stop at a turnout, a car stopped on a curve to watch a deer on the side of the road. KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: Having grown up back East, I would be afraid to do the drive in icy/snowy conditions, but I suspect they do a good job of keeping the roadway clean or shutting down. Thousands of people visit Pikes Peak every year, and I can't ever recall reading about a carload of tourists shooting off the side of the mountain. Just pay attention, drive within the speed limit, and watch out for the other guy.
We decided to drive the drive to the summit, instead of take the cog railway. I was very nervous--no guard rails, for the most part! But the scenery on the drive up is totally unreal! We drove with the sunroof open and the windows open for the majority of the trip up. Just be warned of EXTREME dust in the car!! At the summit, we enjoyed the views, and donuts and hot chocolate! My 7 year old did get altitude sickness--but it was all worth it! The drive down the mountain was more relaxing (we were up there late, so no cars going up). We even got to see some HUGE mule deer off the side of the side of the road.
My family and I just got back from Co. and we took the cog to pikes peak. Truly amazing view the ride was great the conductor had us laughing the whole hour and a half ride up. We would do it again in a second. The view from up there was breathtaking. Recomend to anyone.
We took the Cog Railway to the top of Pike's Peak. The ride was so beautiful! An hour of the best scenery! At the top the view was great and we even had snow in June! Just what my son wanted at the top! Besides hot chocolate and a doughnut! This was a great value at $81.00 for 2 adults and 2 children!
If you don't want to drive the hairpin curves yourself, this is the way to go!!
We drove up to Pikes Peak yesterday. Even in May, we weren't able to get to the top due to snow and ice. Were able to make it to the 16th mile, but the last three miles to the top were closed off.
Still well worth the price of getting in. The drive is definitely not as nervewracking as expected based on all of the reviews here. The majority of the road is paved and where it's dirt, it's still smooth. While the roads are winding, the ascent is gradual. Roads are quite wide as well (not as narrow as I thought they'd be) and there are plenty of places to pull off to the side. The drive down is not hard on your brakes as long as you keep your vehicle in low gear.
The views are breathtaking (literally in the thin air). You feel like you're on top of the world, and we didn't even make it all the way to the summit. Definitely worth taking a few hours to do should you be in the Colorado Springs area.
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