Pikes Peak or Bust
No matter what the season, Pikes Peak is a without a doubt a beautiful Rocky Mountain High. America's Mountain never fails to disappoint. From the crystal reservoirs to the alpine tundra to the 14,110 foot summit, Pikes Peak is a MUST DO, MUST SEE, MUST EXPERIENCE while in the Colorado Springs area.
Gold was discovered in the area of present-day Denver in 1858, and newspapers referred to the gold-mining area as "Pike's Peak." Pike's Peak or Bust became the slogan of the Colorado Gold Rush. Katharine Lee Bates was moved to write the words to the famous song "America the Beautiful" in July, 1893, after having traveled to the top of Pikes Peak on a carriage ride. There is a plaque commemorating this with the words to "America the Beautiful" at the summit.
There are several visitor centers on the Pikes Peak Highway, some with a gift shop and restaurant.The shop at the summit boast the worlds only high altitude donuts! A must have when you reach the summit!
The summit can be reached by car via the Pikes Peak Highway. It is a 19 mile gorgeous scenic ride with tons of OMG switchbacks along the way. There are lots of areas one can pull over to take advantage of the many photo ops! The summit can also be reached by taking the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway (a cog railroad), which operates out of Manitou Springs year round, weather permitting of course. Now for those who long adventure one can hike up to the summit using the popular Barr's Trail.
Conditions at the top are typical of a high alpine environment. The thin air contains only 60% of the oxygen available at sea level. Snow is a possibility any time year-round, and thunderstorms are common in the summer, bringing hail and wind gusts occasionally of over 100 mi/hr. Lightning is especially dangerous above the treeline, so you should always be aware of the weather. Conditions can deteriorate rather quickly at those altitudes. A signboard at the cog railway depot in Manitou Springs provides the summit temperature on a daily basis.
Two friends admiring the view at Crystal Reservoir. (Click on the photo to watch a stunning slide show).