Journey to the Top: Three Ways To Make The Trip Up To Pikes Peak
by Mark Burris
There are three different ways to make the journey to the top of Pikes Peak mountain. The first and most popular way, is by driving your car or truck up the Pikes Peak Highway.
As seen in the photo above, there are a lot of curves, with steep drop offs and no guard rails in most areas of the highway. It is critical that if you go up the mountain using this method, that you observe the posted speed limits, (or slower) that you pay attention to the road at all times, and prior to attempting the climb, make absolutely sure that your vehicle's brakes and your vehicle's overall condition is excellent. This is NOT a trip to make with a car or truck in fair condition only. You are climbing (and then descending) to an altitude of more than 14,000 feet, and the journey in either direction will take a while. Make sure that you make any required restroom stops at the bottom of the mountain. Bring water or snacks along in case you get thirsty or hungry. There are no restroom stops along the highway.
The second most popular way to see the top of Pikes Peak is by traveling on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The last time this author traveled up the mountain using this method of transportation, I found it to be a great experience. Be sure to reserve your space online in advance, and arrive at the railway station at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure. Call them if you are wanting same day reservations. Be aware that at certain times of the year, without reservations, you will either not be able to make the trip that day, or the trip may be delayed or cancelled completely due to extreme weather conditions.
The third and final way to make the journey to the top is by hiking on foot using the Barr Trail. Needless to say this trail requires a healthy person in good physical condition to climb the 13 miles up, and then 13 miles down again. I have not tried this method, although it is popular with hardy souls, and I give two thumbs up to those persons who can make it up and back down again in one piece.
No matter what method you choose to travel up the mountain, be sure to bring a medium weight to heavy jacket, gloves and a cap or hat or ear muffs or all of these. First timers who do not heed this advice regret not bringing same, and find it amazing how different the temperatures are from the bottom to the top of Pikes Peak. Even if it is sunny, and the temperature are in the seventies or higher at the bottom of Pikes Peak, it can be in the 20-40's or even lower temps at the top of the mountain and sometimes very windy. Of course there are days when nothing more than a light jacket is needed, but why take a chance.
There is a great food court/snacks/gift shop building with restrooms at the top of Pikes Peak called the Summit House. Be sure and try some of their world famous donuts, and their over sized pretzels if you get a chance, as well as a variety of other foods/drinks. They are often very busy, so keep in mind if you are traveling by train that you have only a limited amount of time to spend on top of Pikes Peak for taking photos, and/or eating or shopping before the train whistle blows and you have to get back on the train. If you miss your train, it's a long walk down the mountain, or expensive to catch another one, which may not be available that day due to limited seating.
Regardless of how you travel up the mountain, enjoy the experience!
"Journey to the Top" - Copyright ©2016 Mark Burris All Rights Reserved - (Send an email for reprint rights info)
Pikes Peak Cog Railway - Web Promo Colorado - Video Courtesy of Finley Holiday Films: