Pikes Peak is one of America’s most enjoyed mountains – you can hike 12 miles up the Barr Trail to the summit, ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or drive the 19-mile scenic highway and enjoy the spectacular view from the new Summit House. Pikes Peak is also host to two very different races each year. The Pikes Peak Hill Climb, the second-oldest car race in America (behind the Indianapolis 500), attracts top names in the motorsports world, and this year marks the 78th Anniversary of the Race to the Clouds. The Pikes Peak Marathon is the second-oldest foot race in America (behind the Boston Marathon). This 28.2 mile course, which is considered to be one of the most demanding in the world, was the first U.S. marathon open to women. You can ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest railroad in the country, or drive the 19-mile scenic highway and enjoy the spectacular view from the road and atop at the new Summit House. One can also enjoy the adventure and thrill of riding down this 14,110 foot mountain on a bicycle!
The Pikes Peak region’s first inhabitants were that of native Ute, Cheyenne and Kiowa Indians. In 1871, William Jackson Palmer, railroad baron and Civil War hero, purchased 10,000 acres of land to begin building his vision of a thriving community in a healthful climate. The gold mining rush of the mid-1890s led to the settlement of Cripple Creek, a mining town west of Colorado Springs which is now a limited-stakes gambling attraction.
In the 1940s, Fort Carson Army base was built, adding yet another economic dimension to the region. Today, Colorado Springs is home to several other military installations including, Peterson Air Force Base Space Command, NORAD (North American Radar & Air Defense) and the United States Air Force Academy. Colorado Springs and the surrounding area has a population of over 465,000. Lieutenant Zebulon Pike wandered into the region on a cool November day in 1806 and turned away from what is now called Pikes Peak claiming that no man would ever ascend this great mountain.
To reinforce this proclamation, he named it “Grand Peak.” Though he never made it to the summit, Grand Peak was renamed Pikes Peak in honor of his discovery.
Location Cog Railway
Cog Railway Depot: 515 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Take exit #141 (US 24) off I-25, go west (toward mountains) on US 24 four miles to Manitou Ave. (Manitou Springs) exit. Go west on Manitou Ave. one and one-half miles to Ruxton Ave. Turn left and go to top of Ruxton Ave., three-quarters of a mile.