The Long and Winding Road to 14,000 Feet: A Drive Up Pike’s Peak

Among serious hikers and climbers all over the world, standing atop one of “The Fourteeners” is something to be very proud of. These are mountain peaks that are over 14,000 feet, and getting to the top of them is often a very grueling and sometimes harrowing experience.

There are just 89 Fourteeners in the United States. More than half are located in the Rocky Mountain Ranges of Colorado, with more in Alaska, California and a handful of others states.

One of the very few Fourteeners accessible to explorers of any age and ability is Pike’s Peak. Standing at 14,115 feet, it towers over the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado and attracts millions of visitors each year. Why is Pike’s Peak so special?

It’s accessible by car. That’s right, simply (and carefully) follow a 19 mile long, very winding road and it won’t be long before you to can be standing at the top of Pike’s Peak, checking at least one Fourteener off your bucket list!

The drive up the Pike’s Peak Highway is something to enjoy in itself. The winding road dangles right up to the edge of the sheer rock faces, so it’s advisable to plan at least an hour to make your way up, of course leaving time to stop and take photos at one of the many scenic stops.

At drivers make their way top of the peak, there are a number of visitors areas, particularly the Summit House at the very top of the peak as well as gift shops, restrooms and small cafes. The views, unsurprisingly are quite spectacular, showcasing the terrain all around the Colorado Springs area.

If you have ample time, there are a number of activities you can enjoy on your way up the highway. There are a number of pull-off areas perfect for picnics. You can bring your bikes and ride up or down portions of the highway, or pack your canoe and fishing poles to enjoy a drop in at one of the multiple lakes and reservoirs you’ll pass on the way like the Crystal Reservoir.

If you want to get a bit more active, there are a number of trails you can explore. The most commonly used is called the Barr Trail this starts at the 7,800 foot mark, and will continue up right to the peak, allowing you to hike just under half the mountain. Taking anywhere from 7-12 hours, this trail is for the experienced climbers. For a trail you can enjoy for a couple of hours from the top of your drive up Pike’s Peak, check out the Crags Trail.

Pike’s Peak is one of those special mountains that allows access to everyone. So don’t hesitate to take a drive up Pike’s Peak next time you are in the Colorado Springs area, and don’t forget to try one of the “world famous” donuts at the Summit House!

Have you been to Pike’s Peak? What was your favorite part?