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America’s Mountain: Pikes Peak (Colorado)

America's Mountain: Pikes Peak rises above the woods surrounding Garden of the Gods and Colorado Springs in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Pikes Peak is the Colorado mountain that can’t be missed! That’s because of the views from its summit that inspired the song “America The Beautiful” and because it’s so big, you literally can’t miss it.

Pikes Peak is one of the most famous mountains in the USA. And there are plenty of reasons why people know it: Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song “America The Beautiful” after visiting the highest mountain in the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. There is the hair-raising car and motorcycle race (The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb aka The Race to the Clouds) that goes up Pikes Peak Highway, which has plenty of hairpin turns and lacks railings in many sections. Let’s mention again the magnificent views from atop this Rocky Mountains fourteener, that include other mountain peaks, lakes, towns, and on clear days views of the surrounding states and the bend of the Earth!

North-East View from Pikes Peak Summit
North-North-East view from the Pikes Peak Summit at about 14,100 feet.

And then there is the accessibility. Pikes Peak is just 12 miles from downtown Colorado Springs, and the summit (at 14,115 feet / 4,302.31 m) is usually easily accessible via car, bus, or cog rail – and not just by hiking or biking.

Construction and Covid-19 Updates: As of this writing in July 2020, the tram up the mountain is not running due to construction. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is supposed to reopen around the same time as the new Pikes Peak Summit House, in May 2021. Currently, you’ll have switch from car to shuttles at mile 13 or 16 (of the total 19-mile drive). Masks are required on the shuttles and in the gift shops. Please check for latest updates on an official website, e.g. Rumor also has it that some of the views are currently obstructed due to the construction.

For now you can enjoy some of the views via our photos. And you can get an idea of what the drive up and down is like by watching these Pikes Peak Highway time-lapse videos Luci made during our 2015 autumn visit to Pikes Peak:

VIDEO: Complete Drive Up Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado – (Extended Version)

VIDEO: Driving Down Pikes Peak Highway Time-Lapse, Colorado – (Extended Version)
16-mile Pikes Peak Highway – from the Pikes Peak summit at 14,115 feet (4,302.31 m) to the road entrance at about 8,000 feet.

Lake along Pikes Peak Highway
Lake along Pikes Peak Highway invites to stop and just enjoy this Happier Place.
Cyclist riding up Pikes Peak Mountain Road
Apparently, a lot of people enjoy riding bikes up steep mountains.
GoPro camera on car hood driving up mountain
During our 2015 visit, Luci shot time-lapse videos going up and down the 16-mile mountain drive. Click through to watch: UP and DOWN
Mountain and valley view, Pikes Peak, Colorado, HappierPlace
Mountain and valley views along the drive up the mountain highway.
More mountain and valley views along the drive to the summit of Pikes Peak, Colorado
More mountain and valley views along the drive to the summit.
People take in view from Pikes Peak Summit, America's Mountain, Colorado
And finally there it is: the view from the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains southern Front Range.
Man walking along summit of Pikes Peak mountain with valley below
From the summit you can see Colorado Springs, lakes, other mountains, and the occasional Bavarian.
Mountain lakes seen from mountain top
Mountain lakes on the south side.
View from Pikes Peak shows the curve of planet Earth and cog trail tracks.
Not getting too distracted by the bend of the cog rail tracks, can you see the bend of the earth at the horizon?
Monument with America the Beautiful lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates on the top of Pikes Peak with the views that inspired the song
Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song “America The Beautiful” after visiting the mountain.
Lyrics of America The Beautiful on the top of the mountain that inspired the song
Now you can sing along while standing on the summit – even if you don’t remember all the lyrics of “America The Beautiful”.
The Old, Old Pikes Peak Summit House - constructed in 1873.
The Old, Old Pikes Peak Summit House – constructed in 1873.
You made it! You're at the 14,110 foot summit - you might as well take a photo. Turns out a photo is a lasting memory.
You made it! You’re at the 14,110 foot summit – you might as well take a photo. Turns out a photo is a lasting memory.
Manitou - Pikes Peak Cog Wheel Railroad car at the end of the line on the mountain top
End of the line. While the Manitou – Pikes Peak Cog Wheel Railroad is not currently running, it’s supposed resume in May 2021 when its reconstruction is finally finished. Will you go?
Harley motorcycle bike on the summit ofPikes Peak, Colorado
There are many ways to get up to the Pikes Peak Summit. Some people like going by motorcycle. Some people also like the Grateful Dead.
Hiking Trails sign, Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Colorado
It’s “just” a 13-mile hike up the mountain from Manitou Springs. Or you could take a bus up and just hike back down. Or you could just enjoy the view and take the bus back off the mountain.
One of those infamous hairpin turns on the way back down Pikes Peak Highway.
One of those infamous hairpin turns on the way back down Pikes Peak Highway.
You can see Pikes Peak from the nearby Garden of the Gods.
You can see Pikes Peak from the nearby Garden of the Gods.

Nearby Attraction

Let’s Inspire Each Other!

Have you been to Pikes Peak? Then please tell us about our experience and share your tips. How about other places in the Rocky Mountains or Colorado? Which is the highest mountain you’ve ever been on?

Please leave a comment below – inspired by these questions or whatever you’d like to share…

Pikes Peak of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Americas Mountain, the views that inspired the song America The Beautiful, HappierPlace

All photos in this post were taken by Luci Westphal.

17 thoughts on “America’s Mountain: Pikes Peak (Colorado)

  1. The place looks so beautiful and gorgeous! Looking forward to visit it someday!

    1. Glad you think so. Hope you get to go one day!

  2. Those views are breat taking. A bike ride would be amazing through there.

  3. I was Colorado for 3 weeks not too long ago. The first thing that got me was how awesome it was to be surrounded by mountains. What I loved about that though was even om my last day there, I was still in awe by all the mountains. Never made it out to Pikes Peak, but when travel is allowed again, I’ll be adding it to my list of places to see.

    1. So awesome you got to visit Colorado. The size of those mountains is something else! And there are so many amazing places to see – it’s often hard to choose which mountains, canyons, lakes or rivers to go explore. Hope you get to make it back for more Rocky Mountain adventures!

  4. I’ve never been to Pikes Peak and I wanna go there after seeing these cool pictures! Thank you for sharing 🙂 – Dan “Jay” Reyes

  5. Beautiful indeed. My goodness what a view. I’ve never been but I’d love to hike through some of the passes of Colorado one day…what an experience!

    1. I hope you get to check out Colorado one day. Well, for many days. There is so much to see and experience. I do recommend visiting in summer or early autumn so you can see everything.

  6. I’ve never been to Colorado but I would love to go there one day, the scenery is out of this world.

    1. Hope you get to see Colorado one day! It’s quite pleasant on the eyes 😉

  7. Loved seeing the pictures. Saw it as a child when we visited Garden of the Gods.

    1. I’m so glad to read that, Shary. Both Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods must have been quite amazing to see as a child. But then you were quite the world-traveler and had probably seen lots of incredible landscapes!

  8. Wow the views look incredible. We really want to explore some of the amazing nature spots America has to offer so we will add this to our list.

  9. Ooh I was in this area a couple of years ago. I wanted to visit it but I didn’t have the time to. Would love to go back and see it.

    1. Hope you get a chance to go back. Right now there’s a bunch of construction going on (besides the covid restrictions) – but once the cog rail is happening again, it would be a unique experience to get to the top of a Colorado 14er.

  10. The views in this post are stunning. They take me back to my days in Jamaica and Ayiti. Each time I was terrified to make the drives up. Lol

    1. Would love to see mountain views in the Caribbean! But yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever driven up one of those high mountains without being terrified. But it’s always worth the view 🙂

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