Location & Geography
Pike’s Peak is a mountain located west of Colorado Springs, Colorado in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. Pikes peak is over 14,000 feet above sea level and at the summit you have a very hard time breathing because of the lack of oxygen in the air.
How do you get there?
Pikes Peak has it’s own highway which is approximately 19 miles long and costs $40 per car load to travel to the top. Depending on the time of year you might only be able to drive up halfway due to snow and ice.
Unless you are very athletic and want to hike to the summit the only other way to get there is the Cog Railway. This stunning journey is 9 miles each way and takes 3 hours to complete.
What does Pikes Peak look like?
Simply put, the song “America the Beautiful” was written about this landmark. Pikes Peak is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit. There is a lot of exposed of exposed pink granite called “Pikes Peak Granite” that started to form over 1 billion years ago. There are multiple clear reservoirs throughout the mountain.
The terrain varies a lot depending on the altitude. There are 4 zones in Pikes Peak and each zone has different features including wildlife and wildlife.
Foothills: 6,000 – 8,000 feet above sea level. This zone has a lot of grassy meadows and open space with pine and juniper. In this area you find squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and foxes.
Montane: 8,000 – 10,000 feet above sea level. This zone is known for a stunning, white bark aspen tree as well as breathtaking wildflowers. In this zone there are a lot of deer, birds and some elk.
Sub-Alpine: 10,000 – 11,500 feet above sea level. This zone really starts to look a lot different because the decreasing oxygen levels and water supply determines what can live there. You will find spruce trees everywhere and the wind and harsh temperatures often deform the trees and shrubs. Birds, bunnies,
Sheep and black bears live at this altitude.
Alpine: 11,500+ feet above sea level. Very little can grow up here because this mountaintop is usually covered in snow and there is very little time for things to grow in this windy and cole region. Grass, moss and very small wildflowers can be found in this zone. The really cool part about this unforgiving altitude is you might see the majestic Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. There are a lot of giant rock formations as you near the summit of Pikes Peak. Most people think the top of a mountain is a point but Pikes Peak is actually flat at the top. You can walk around and visit the gift shop and cafe in this very windy and chilly place.
PIKES PEAK HISTORY
The first group to ever roam the Rocky Mountain Pikes Peak was known as the Clovis Culture, descendants of the ancient people who crossed Bering Land Bridge between Russia and Alaska.
President Thomas Jefferson completes the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana purchase was the transaction that purchased more than 828,800 square miles, including Pikes Peak, is added to the United States for approximately $15 million, more than 828,800 square miles, including Pikes Peak, from France. In 1806 Pike’s Peak was formally discovered by Jefferson’s men.
The first documented group of men reached the summit of Pikes Peak! It was not until 1858 that a woman was able / allowed to climb to the top. Her name was Julia Archibald.
The first dirt road to the top of Pikes Peak was made. It cost $1 per car to drive to the top.
The cog railway was opened for adventurous folk to travel to the summit. In 1893 Katherine Lee Bates traveled to the top on the cog railway and wrote the poem that inspired “America the Beautiful.”
The toll road highway (the road to drive to the summit) was improved due to the request of Spencer Penrose to the Secretary of Agriculture. At this time the price to drive to the summit increased to $2 per car.
The stunning “Crystal Reservoir” was created.
The North Catamount Reservoir” was created.
The Pikes Peak Ski area which was created / opened in 1936 closes.
The Pikes Peak Highway was formally and smoothly paved straight up to the summit of the mountain!
The Waldo Canyon Forest Fire destroying thousands of acres just north of Pikes Peak forces the highway and cog railway to close. That fire devastated the area and took a long time for firefighters to contain.
Cycling up to the summit on a bicycle becomes an approved activity.