If you enjoyed The Garden of the Gods adventure, then you’re going to like this one as well. This was also part of Sandy and Mike’s trip to Colorado Springs.
This dominating mountain peak is one of America’s fourteeners. With being over 14,100 feet above sea level, the panoramic views are absolutely breathtaking.
The mountain is named after Zebulon Pike. Pike was an American Brigadier General who was also an explorer. In the early 1800s, Pike was commission by President Jefferson to survey the Louisiana Purchase. At 14.115 feet, Pikes Peak is the highest summit east of its longitude.
There is a smaller sub-peak on the northwest side of the mountain called Devil’s Playground. The namesake was given because of how the lightning dances across the sky. The people who have traveled on the highway during one of these thunderstorms were fortunate enough to witness such an amazing site.
When reaching thousands of feet above sea level, you can look across at the Rocky Mountains’ vast peaks that touch the sky. These two earthy elements create layers of colors that can only be scene at this altitude.
As you get closer to the summit, the road can get somewhat treacherous. There are little to no guardrails or retaining walls to stop debris from washing onto the pavement. There are numerous switch backs, snake like turns, and sharp curves that require a driver’s full attention. However, these unusual road patterns make the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that much more exciting.
The Cog Train tracks have a center rail that is called a rack rail. A pinion – clock like wheel on the engine’s drive train that meshes with the same pattern on the rail. This allows the train to handle steep inclines and declines.
The Cog Train has been climbing Pikes Peak since 1891. The round-trip takes approximately 3 and half hours. The climate controlled cabin cars offer comfortable seating and plenty of windows for panoramic viewing. When the train stops at the summit’s World Famous Visitors Center, not only can you purchase that one of a-kind souvenir, but have a donut made at 14,000 feet above sea level! There’s only one stipulation and that is you have to eat the donut before you get back. If you don’t, the donut(s) will turn to mush.
No matter the mode of transportation, you will go through Pike National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service and The Pikes Peak Ranger District are responsible for 230,000 acres of lush forest and open grasslands. They maintain and ensure that the public has access to fishing, picnic areas, and other outdoor activities. There are also 225 miles of hiking and biking trails – a third of them allow motorized vehicles – along with 250 established camp sites.
You should always have your camera in hand and on ready mode. There is a plethora of wildlife roaming the park. With that said, always be alert for any animals standing or darting out onto the roadway. You never know what might show up around the next curve!
On any given day you can spot elk, deer, and the Yellow-Bellied Marmot, a.k.a. whistling Marmot or Whistle Pig. Pikes Peak is also known for having one of Colorado’s largest herds of Big Horn Sheep.
When first starting off, you will see Colorado’s high plains with it’s grasslands and colorful wildflowers. As you get into the foothills, you’ll find a variety of shrubbery and trees. After that, the forest will come into site with various pine trees and evergreens.
With the lack of moisture, thin air and a limited growing season, anything besides grass will not grow. At 14,115 feet, certain people will experience altitude sickness. Be careful!
The Pikes Peak Tour is one of many attractions in and around the Colorado Springs area. You can enjoy exploring the Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls or zip line across Cheyenne Canyon. If you don’t mind driving south for an hour, you can visit The Royal Gorge Bridge. This famous suspension bridge reaches 955 feet above the gorge’s floor and the Arkansas River. Besides having spectacular views, there is an amusement park and Arial Tram.
Photography Credit: Sandy Charbonneau Mulford
Article Creator & Formatting: Anthony Scopel
Article Production: Anthony Scopel & Matt Kemper
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Web Support: Matt Kemper
Publishing Provide By: You, Me and The Dock
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