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Rocky Mountain Food Tours

Read this guide to get the most out of your visit to Colorado Springs’ best attraction, Pikes Peak!

With the newly renovated cog railway and brand new visitor’s center at the summit, Pikes Peak should be on everyone’s must-do list for 2022!

Pikes Peak is Colorado’s most prominent mountain and the inspiration behind the national song, “America The Beautiful.” It is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world! Each year, more than 500,000 sightseers and adventurers don the mountain seeking spectacular views and signs of Rocky Mountain wildlife. On a clear day, you can see five different states from the summit including Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, and Utah.

We’ve put together your ultimate guide to visiting Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs including five different ways to reach the summit, insider travel tips, and things to do in the area while you’re visiting.

 

Pikes Peak and Kissing Camels in Colorado Springs
Pikes Peak and Kissing Camels in Colorado Springs

Why Visit

Pikes Peak not only offers stunning views and breath-taking scenery, but it’s also very accessible. This famous mountain is easy to travel to, offers several ways to reach the summit, and has plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone!

With an elevation of 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is also a “fourteener,” a.k.a. a mountain that’s 14,000 feet above sea level. There are 96 fourteeners in the U.S., and Colorado has 53 of them. From Colorado Springs to the top of Pikes Peak there’s a gain of 8,000 feet in elevation!

Travel Tip: If you are visiting from an area with a lower elevation, take time to adjust before traveling up Pikes Peak or you might find yourself afflicted with elevation sickness. Remember to drink plenty of water!

 

 

Sunrise From Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs | Photo Credit Pikes Peak Facebook


5 Ways to Reach the Summit

Option 1: Drive

You can drive your car right up to the top of Pikes Peak! The Pikes Peak Highway is 19 miles of gorgeous mountain terrain, and the road is paved all the way to the summit. Beware though that there are some hairpin turns and steep drops on both sides of the road!

Pros: This option is the most budget-friendly as the toll is only $15 per passenger. This option also allows the most freedom. You can stop whenever you want to take pictures, look at wildlife, have a picnic, bring the poles along to do some fishing, or even do some hiking before driving back down.

Cons: Whoever’s driving will need to keep their eyes on the twisting mountain road and won’t be able to enjoy all the scenery along the way. The road can also be a little intimidating for drivers who aren’t used to mountain driving.

Travel Trip: The Southern Slope Recreation Area is a fantastic place to stop for some hiking, fishing, and bighorn-sheep spotting.

 

Gray Line Shuttle | Photo Credit Pikes-Peak.com

 

Option 2: Take a Guided Tour

Don’t want to put the wear and tear on your own vehicle? Schedule a jeep or shuttle tour! Adventures Out West offers jeep tours up Pikes Peak starting at $149 per person. These tours allow everyone in your group to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride while an experienced guide does all the driving. For a more affordable option, there are also shuttle tours to the summit. Gray Line offers a four-hour summit trip for $80 per person ($60 for kids 2 to 12; kids under 2 are not permitted).

Pros: Everyone in the group can look out the windows and enjoy the gorgeous views during the drive. Plus, you’ll have a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide who can help you learn more about the mountain. Gray Line also makes several stops along the way including Crystal Reservoir (a stunning 136-acre lake).

Cons: You’re only given a limited block of time to explore at each stop and about 30 minutes at the summit.

 

Historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway | ID 39340912 © Kan1234 | Dreamstime.com

 

Option 3: Ride the Famous Cog Railway

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has been in operation since 1891 and recently reopened after renovation in the summer of 2021. The railway now boasts a new depot, new and refurbished trains and more than nine miles of new tracks. The Cog Railway is once again offering a unique and delightful way to travel up and down Pikes Peak. Prices start at $58 per adult and $48 for kids 12 and under.

Pros: The train offers a fun and unique way to reach the summit. During the nine-mile journey, the train also provides exceptional views of the Pikes Peak region that typically only experienced backcountry hikers get to see, and before leaving the train depot, visitors also have the option to buy drinks, locally made Colorado snacks, sandwiches, ice cream, and trail mix to enjoy during the train ride.

Cons: There are no stops along the way for breaks or pictures. However, you do get about 40 minutes to explore at the summit before the train departs for the journey back down.

Travel Tip: During the summer the train often sells out a couple weeks in advance so be sure to book your trip early!

 

Hiking Pikes Peak | Photo Credit Pikes Peak Facebook

 

Option 4: Hike

Yes, as daunting as it seems, hiking 13.5 miles (one-way), with an elevation gain of about 7,500 feet is an option! Hikers can take Barr Trail all the way to the summit. This is a strenuous and challenging hike that only experienced and healthy hikers should attempt. Also, keep in mind that during the final three miles the oxygen is very thin, which can make breathing while hiking more difficult. If you choose to hike, bring plenty of water as there is nowhere to fill up along the trail.

Pros: You’ll getting out into nature, see the incredible sights along the trail, and finish with a sense of pride and achievement for hiking a fourteener. Not to mention you’ll get a good workout!

Cons: Physically tough and tiring, this hike takes anywhere from 8 to 16 hours (one way) and is usually done over a couple days.

Travel Tip: The Cog Railway allows you to book a one-way ticket up or down the mountain for hikers who prefer to only hike one-way!

 

 

Biking Pikes Peak | Photo Credit Challenge Unlimited

Option 5: Ride a Bike

Challenge Unlimited will provide you with a van ride to the summit and then all the gear you’ll need to have an exhilarating bike ride 19.5 miles down Pikes Peak. If you want an exciting cycling adventure, then this option is for you.

Pros: A thrilling adventure, the company takes care of all the details and gear for you, great scenic views.

Cons: On the pricey side, this option will come in at around $225 per person.

 

Overlook at Pikes Peak Visitor Center | Photo Credit Pikes Peak Facebook

 

What To Do at The Summit

You’ve made it to the top of Pikes Peak! Now What? Once you make it to the summit you can take in the incredible views, snap plenty of photos, and then explore the new Summit House. Keep in mind that the weather at the summit can be very cold, even in the summer, so come prepared with layers. At the Summit House you can warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and grab some lunch. You can also explore the interactive exhibits and visit the gift shop.

Travel Trip: Make sure to try some of the famous high-altitude donuts!

 

 

Pikes Peak Events

There are a few events that take place around Pikes Peak every year. One of these events is the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent. This is the oldest continually held marathon in the U.S.!

Another popular event is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb — “The Race to the Clouds.” This is an invitational automobile race that began in 1916. This race has grown into an international event that attracts the very best drivers from around the world.

 

Bighorn Sheep at Pikes Peak | Photo Credit Pikes Peak Facebook

 

Explore Beyond Pikes Peak

After you’ve finished your mountain excursion, there’s plenty of exciting things to do around the Colorado Springs area. We compiled a list of family-friendly activities in Colorado Springs that we highly recommend checking out before your visit. Or, if relaxing at a brewery is more your speed, we have some great recommendations on some of the best breweries in downtown.

And of course, an always fun and delicious way to explore downtown Colorado Springs is by taking a food tour with us, Rocky Mountain Food Tours! There are three different tours available featuring Colorado food, local craft beer, or delicious cocktails. Public tours run every week, year round.

We hope to see you the next time you visit Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs!

 

Cheers! Your Rocky Mountain Food Tours Team

(So, what’s a food tour, anyway…?)

 

 

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