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Pikes Peak

Cascade, Colorado 80809 | Official website
Pikes Peak Photo info
markbyzewski/Flickr
  • Type: Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing
  • Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
Overall Rating: 4.5 (4.7)
Value: 4.0 (4.0)
Facilities: 4.5 (4.5)
Atmosphere: 4.5 (4.5)
About these ratings

Rising 8,000 feet above Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak — aka "America's Mountain" — has been beckoning to visitors since the 19th century. Gold brought the pioneers here, but it was the richness of the mountain's natural beauty that motivated them to stay. The views from this pink granite mountain were so stunning, they inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen the words to the patriotic song, "America the Beautiful." Today, the famous Colorado Gold Rush slogan, "Pikes Peak or Bust," now applies to tourists: Every year, thousands of hikers tackle the climb in search of spectacular photo ops, families get a taste history while riding the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and stunt-devil wannabees get their fair share of thrills along the winding 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway.

No matter how you choose to reach the summit, travelers say that you would be remiss to skip a visit to Pikes Peak. But a word to the wise: You may want to skip the drive if you're afraid of heights. One TripAdvisor user described the experiences as a "nerve racking drive to the top — but the views all the way up and down are well worth the terror!" Even if you're not afraid of heights, you should drive carefully as weather conditions may make the road hazardous and the climbing altitude can make drivers feel dizzy or lightheaded. If you're not up for the drive or the hike, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway has been transporting visitors up and down the mountain since the late 1800s. Today, the round-trip ride lasts a little more than three hours, during which an audio guide will fill you in on the significance of your surroundings.

The entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway is located about 10 miles northwest of central Colorado Springs. The mountain is open to exploration throughout the year (weather permitting). The uphill gate opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. (note that the summit remains open until 6 p.m., and the downhill gate until 7 p.m.). Access to Pikes Peak costs $12 for adults and $5 for children, and drivers will have to pay an additional $8 fee for adults and $2 for children for access to the Pikes Peak Highway. (You can also choose pay a flat $40 carload entry fee, which will cover admission for up to five people.) The Pikes Peak Cog Railway costs $35 per adult and $19 for children ages 3 through 12. For more information, visit the City of Colorado Springs' website and the railway's official website.

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