[Colorado Springs, CO, July 6, 2018]
Colorado Springs is one of several mountain towns in what is known as the Pike’s Peak region. This region is at 6,000 ft (1828 m) above sea level and includes other towns such as Manitou Springs and Canon City. Rising another 8,000 ft above these towns is Pike’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 ft/4200m above sea level). Pike’s Peak is higher than any other summit in the US East of it. It is designated a National Historic Landmark and can be visited by hiking up or by driving the Pike’s Peak Highway.
If you do choose the highway, make sure your driver is prepared to drive on a winding road with steep dropoffs and no guardrails in places. Even in summer, be sure to check the weather and make sure that the chance of thunderstorms is low. On the way down, you’ll need to put your car in low gear so as to not overheat the brakes. Here’s a small preview of what the road looks like close to the top.
A third way to visit Pike’s Peak used to be the Cog Railway, but that closed in October 2017 for maintenance. The engineers realized upgrade would involve more than they anticipated, and for a while they weren’t even sure the repairs were feasible. Based on the latest news though, it seems that the railway will be repaired and it will open in fall 2020. Even though the railway is not running, its tracks do make for good photo ops at the top.
The views are incredible from up there. We lucked out with sunny weather although there was some haze from wildfires burning elsewhere in Colorado. There is also a giant sign perfect for pictures. At 14,115 ft, Pike’s Peak is vying for the highest elevation I’ve ever been at, together with La Raya pass in the Peruvian High Plains, which was about 100 ft higher.
On the way down, we stopped at the Crystal Creek reservoir, which provided great views of Pike’s Peak in the background.
There was also a statue of Big Foot that we felt obliged to take a photo with.
All in all, the entire trip took us about 4 hours. We made sure to leave early as the highway can get really busy. If you arrive late enough, you will be forced to park at lower elevations and take a shuttle up to the top. We spent the rest of the afternoon helping May setup for her anniversary party the next day.