If you’re planning a visit to Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, here are 10 things you can’t miss! From taking scenic road trips to exploring popular backpacking trails to fishing deep in the mountains, the possibilities for adventure are seemingly endless.
1. Drive Up To The Summit For a High-Altitude Donut
By far, the most popular way to experience the beauty of Colorado Springs is to take the paved toll road to the summit of Pikes Peak. Driving Pikes Peak Highway to the summit can take between 1.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on how many stops you make along the way. This 19 mile-long scenic highway is very narrow, winding, and steep, climbing all the way up to 14,115 feet. Needless to say, this unforgettable drive is not for the faint of heart or those who have a fear of heights. Be sure to pay a visit to the Pikes Peak Summit House for a crispy cake donut baked to perfection at this high-altitude escape!
2. Hike To The Summit For Breathtaking Views
If you are looking for a challenging hike, take Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Pike for spectacular beauty and mountain views overlooking the city. This 21.3-mile heavily trafficked out and back trail starts in Manitou Springs with an elevation gain of 7,800 feet. For those who want to extend their time spent on the trek, Barr Camp is a great spot for overnight camping and is open to hikers all-year round. Dogs are also welcomed to use the trail, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Keep in mind, sections of the trail are exposed, so check the weather forecast before planning to make the ascend above tree line. It’s also important to know how to properly recognize, treat, and even prevent altitude sickness during high-elevation hikes. Here are a few things you’ll need to know about altitude sickness before you go. Note: This hike is intense and should only be attempted by those who have prepared for the trip and have experience with high-altitude hiking.
3. Explore the Trails at Devil’s Playground
Just off Pikes Peak Highway (mile marker 16), you’ll find a quick pit stop that’s well worth a visit – Devil’s Playground. This trail offers spectacular views that stretch across the reservoir waters and switchbacks located on Pikes Peak all the way to Platte River Valley north of the Continental Divide. Whether you’re just exploring the general area or hiking to the summit, pay close attention to developing storms that can produce dangerous lightning and large hailstones.
4. Embrace Colorado’s Fishing Season
Grab your fishing pole and head up the summit for a rejuvenating and relaxing alpine fishing adventure. Fish for rainbow, lake, cutthroat, and brook trout from three different reservoirs including Crystal Reservoir and North and South Catamount Reservoirs. Gas motors are strictly prohibited, but belly boats, canoes, and other small boats are allowed for day fishing treks. A Colorado fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16. It’s also worth mentioning that only artificial flies and lures are allowed at North Catamount. For more information on boating and fishing at Crystal Creek and South Catamount Reservoirs, click here.
5. Take A Thrilling Bicycle Tour
Don’t miss Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours tours for an adrenaline-fueled adventure. Beginning at the summit of Pikes Peak, bikers will enjoy a downhill ride that cruises 7,000 feet down America’s most famous mountain pass. Bike tours are great for all skill levels and include a continental-style breakfast, all necessary biking equipment, toll fees, and much more. There are several different ways and tours available for reaching the summit, get all the details here.
6. Picnic with a View at Crystal Reservoir
Soak up the beautiful scenery while enjoying a picnic tucked away in the mountains at Crystal Reservoir. Picnic areas are available on a first-come, first served basis. You’ll also find bathrooms, gift shops, and plenty of other amenities for a relaxing and beautiful summer day of fun.
7. Spot Wildlife Along This Stunning Journey
Pikes Peak is a prime spot for photographers and wildlife viewing. As you make your way to the summit, there’s a strong chance you’ll catch a glimpse of wildlife around every twist and turn. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, bear, deer, mountain lions, marmots, pika, and coyotes.
8. Capture Postcard-Worthy Photos
Pikes Peak offers multiple different photography opportunities from beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by lush pines with a smoky mountain backdrop to rocky terrain that reaches over 14,000 feet into the sky. One of the best lookout points is at mile marker 10.5, where you’ll catch amazing views of the Tarryall Mountains, Mt. Princeton, and Mt. Evans. Views of Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak Summit and the Continental Divide can also be seen at mile marker 14.
9. Take to The Mountains for a Backcountry Skiing Experience
If you’re looking for a backcountry skiing experience, then you’ve come to the right place. At mile marker 11.5, skiers and snowboarders can explore the ungroomed terrain including trees, bowls, and chutes. Backcountry skiers can access the Cornice Bowl on Pikes Peak from the Devil’s Playground parking lot. Backcountry experience is a must for anyone attempting this high-risk and dangerous outdoor sport. People have serious accidents on this terrain on a regular basis, some of which have resulted in death.
10. Enjoy Wine Tastings in a Spectacular Setting
Located near the entrance of Pikes Peak Highway, you’ll find two casual mountain-style wineries. Pay a visit to The Winery at Pikes Peak and The Wines of Colorado for a wine tasting experience unlike no other. Both wineries offer indoor and patio seating, a large variety of wines, and a unique tasting room filled with gifts and gourmet treats.
What We Believe
We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More