Pikes Peak has inspired people for hundreds of years. I first learned about “America’s Mountain” after my mom and dad visited the summit forty years ago. I’ve always been curious about Pikes Peak, and wondered how it came to be so famous. My husband became interested as well, so we booked an excursion with Manitou Springs Adventures.
Taking a jeep excursion is a great way to climb the mountain, especially since the Cog Railway is closed. Bear, our guide and driver, expertly maneuvered our jeep through all the twists an turns up thirty-eight miles of highway. My husband and I were free to enjoy the scenery while we sipped the complimentary bottled water and munched on trail mix. (Protein and water prevent altitude sickness.) Throughout our drive, and during rest stops, Bear gave us plenty of time to take photos. His narration provided me with a plethora of info about Pikes Peak. For more information follow my links.
- Pikes Peak stands at 14,115 feet. It ranks 31 among the tallest peaks of Colorado.
- Zebulon Pike led the first American exploration to scale the mountain in 1806. Unfortunately, he never made it to the summit because he started in November. The harsh Colorado winter forced him to turn back.
- Edwin James was the first American to reach the summit in the summer of 1820. Good planning, Ed. He called the mountain Pike’s Highest Peak out of respect for Zebulon. Eventually the name was shortened and the apostrophe dropped.
- People can hike to the summit on the Barr Trail. It generally takes from eight to twelve hours to get to the top.
- The view from the summit is so spectacular it inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write the song “America the Beautiful” in 1893.
- The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is an annual high speed car race which began in 1916. This year Romain Damas broke the record by climbing 4,720 feet in under eight minutes. He drove an electrically powered vehicle manufactured by Volkswagon.
Several Big Foot sightings near Pikes Peak prompted the locals to post a sign on the highway warning visitors to be on the alert. At this pull-off Bear took our picture doing what he called “The Big Foot Shuffle.”
After we arrived at the summit, Bear gave us ample time to look around, take photos, and buy souvenirs at the gift shop. He bought donuts for all of us from the Summit House. Bakers use a special high-altitude formula to overcome the challenges of creating a cake donut at 14,000 feet. Served up warm and fresh, Pikes Peak donuts are a real treat. Since Bear drives two tours a day, he’s one of their best customers.
Thanks for everything, Bear!