Weekends are for exploring Colorado and we set out to do Pike’s Peak today because we completely missed it last year. There was too much snow and the roads were closed for the safety of tourists and hikers. The mountain is generally open year-round as long as the weather allows. This year, we paid $12 for each occupant in a vehicle.
The drive up was exhilarating. Many times, I was sitting just a couple feet away from a sheer drop off the side of a mountain, to tumble many hundreds of feet below. No railing.
We didn’t head out until 12 noon and that was unfortunate. We got stuck in some heavy traffic along I-25 on our way from Denver to Colorado Springs. We got held up so we didn’t really start the climb up until 2:30PM. Our plan was to go to Royal Gorge and see the sunset at the Seven Falls but the last two was scrapped because of the delay. And we relished our time at Pike’s Peak, stopping at many points along the way to take in the scenery and take pictures. Lots of pictures.
The temperature was in the low 90s when we started but the higher up the mountain we went, the colder it got.
I enjoyed the drive from the hotel to Colorado Springs. It’s such a different landscape from flat, brown, North Texas. Colorado is generously sprinkled with mountains and hills guarding over rolling plains littered with vegetation and shrubbery. The drive between Stapleton to Colorado Springs is especially scenic–we go through Castle Rock, drive past the Air Force Academy which is visible from the highway. There is always a glider floating above the academy grounds for their flight classes.
I enjoy it immensely, and just had to put on some country or classical music. That and the endless expanse of bright blue sky, peppered with pretty clouds just make you feel like you are about to have an adventure-filled, beautiful day.😀
We reached the entrance at around 1:58 PM. Below is the entrance booth where you pay. We pulled over to the right side of this picture because I needed to use the restroom and they had an outhouse style restroom built just on the side of the road. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was basically a hole in the ground with a lid and it smelled badly. Phew. But people like me who has pesky bladder issues can’t be choosers.
Check out the motorcyles! There were a lot of them racing up the mountain roads aside from family campers and SUVs. I would never drive up a mountain road on a motorcycle. No way.
Don’t be too much in a hurry to summit, because the most beautiful sights, at least for me, are found on the way up. There are many pretty pockets where you can stop and park your car at to take in the view.
The closer you get to the summit, the more chilly it gets and it is never more noticeable than when you have passed the tree line, aka the section of the mountain where trees stop growing. I would strongly advice anyone going up top to bring a warm jacket no matter what time of the year you go. Being averse to cold myself, I felt like I needed thermals up at the summit. And gloves, and a thick bonnet, plus earmuffs. My nose was dripping and it was hailing. I do not like cold!
Here are photos from the top viewing decks at the summit, right before the storm cloud poured down on us:
We saw the cog rail come up the side of the mountain while we were at the viewing decks. Everyone piled out to seek shelter at the summit restaurant and shop to pee, eat, or shop for souvenirs. I’ve never been a souvenir person and I hate knick knacks of any kind. I have absolutely no use for them either and do not like getting them or having to bring them to people. Plus, last year, I got a $40 Pike’s Peak hoodie at the Cave of the Winds shop. Not repeating that again. I wished I had gotten the AuD $10 hoodies at the Melbourne market a year ago. I really just want to collect hoodies from the places I’ve ever been to. Because hoodies can be worn instead of shoved into a dusty shelf gathering more dust. And I like hoodies😀 My plan is when I’ve got more spending money, I wanna collect street art from the places I’m going to see. For me street art is more representative of the place and the culture, along with market and food tours. Key chains are the absolute worst!
Anyway, moving on, we got some of their ‘world famous’ donuts:
They also sold hot cocoa, soup, sandwiches, and candy.
On our way down, we took more pictures. A wonderful thing happened too, once it started clearing up, and the sun came out, we saw this as we were rounding one of the hairpin bends:
It was so beautiful. We stopped for a little while to admire it until it slowly faded.
At the checkpoint, park employees check brake temperatures to make sure the going is safe for the rest of the descent. Most people driving didn’t really know how to do so and be safe without stepping on the brakes all the way down, and especially on the curves. Fortunately for me, hubby has been driving up the Peak since 2006 and he actually knows how to drive. The trick is in staying on the lower gears, first and second, and only using the brakes when absolutely necessary. That way, they don’t overheat and malfunction.
Most of the cars were told to park and wait 15-20 minutes before continuing on. The guy at the checkpoint commended Brice for his ‘excellent driving’ and waved us on. But we stopped because I had to pee. Again. Typical.😀
As a testament to how treacherous a drive it can be, on our way down, we passed this pick up that’s not going anywhere anytime soon and not without a towing service:
It could really get hairy up there if you’re not careful. I thoroughly enjoyed our trek up the mountain. It was like getting closer to heaven, where you can see the expanse of the boundless blue sky and imagine myself hugging the world. I see how Katherine Lee Bates would be inspired to write American The Beautiful after being here.