Driving Pikes Peak- Tips for Visiting & Driving Up Pikes Peak in 2023

Driving Pikes Peak

At 14,115 feet Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s more than 50 ‘fourteeners’ or mountains that are more than 14,000 feet above sea level.

Although, if you want to experience reaching the summit of a fourteener, you most likely will have to put in a lot of effort and hike to the top. But not with Pikes Peak! Pikes Peak is one of the only mountains that you can actually drive to the summit.

Driving Pikes Peak is a super fun activity and is easily accessible, but there are a few things to know first before you drive to the top of Pikes Peak.

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What You’ll Find In This Driving Pikes Peak Ultimate Guide:

Driving Up Pikes Peak

We’re going to answer all of your questions about driving the road to Pikes Peak.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Important things to know about driving Pikes Peak
  • Hiking to the summit of Pikes Peak
  • Taking the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak
  • How to prepare for the road up Pikes Peak
  • Where to stay near Pikes Peak & so much more!

Keep reading to find out all the important information you’ll need to know about visiting Pikes Peak so you are fully prepared and have an awesome trip!

Must-Do Activities When Visiting Pikes Peak:

Enjoy The Views On A Jeep Tour

Going on a private Jeep tour is definitely the best way to see Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak scenic drive can only really be enjoyed when you don’t have to drive yourself or have to worry about your loved one driving. That way you can enjoy all the scenery without worry. This tour is also perfect for those who are looking to escape the crowds on the Cog Railway!

Check price & make reservations here.

Drive Up And Bike Down The Mountain

This Pikes Peak Bicycle Expedition is the most epic way to experience Pikes Peak! You will be driven up the mountain and after spending some time at the summit you will hop on a high-quality bike and wiz down the mountain. A guide will lead you down the mountain & a support vehicle follows in case you need a break. You will end at the bottom of the mountain at a winery with an included lunch. What an epic day!

Check price & make reservations here. 

See Pikes Peak From A Hot Air Balloon

One of the most epic things you can do is take a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Colorado Springs. You will see views of Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the Rocky Mountains. This awesome tour lets you help blow up the balloons, and includes a champagne toast & light breakfast after your ride.

Check price & make reservations here

Different Ways To Get To Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Road

Are you wondering- how do you get to Pikes Peak? There are 4 different ways that you can get to the top of Pikes Peak: drive to the top of Pikes Peak, hike to the summit of Pikes Peak, take the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak or take a guided tour to the top of Pikes Peak.

Keep reading to learn all about each way to get to the top of this majestic mountain and which one is best for you.

Driving Up Pikes Peak

How Long Does it Take to Drive to the Top of Pikes Peak

For everyone wondering- can you drive to the top of Pikes Peak? It’s true! You can actually DRIVE to the Pikes Peak Summit.

The new Pikes Peak Summit visitor center opened its doors in the summer of 2021 which means that you can now drive to the top of Pikes Peak. The drive to Pikes Peak is a favorite among people looking for a beautiful scenic drive, families with kids, or anyone who doesn’t have to time or physical ability to hike to the summit.

The Pikes Peak Highway is open year-round, weather permitting.

You now need a reservation to drive to the summit of Pikes Peak. You will be given a 2-hour time slot when making your reservation and that reservation guarantees there will be a parking spot at the summit within those 2 hours.

A reservation is only required between the Friday before Memorial Day through the end of September. During June and July, a free shuttle will take guests from the 16- mile parking lot to the summit.

You can make reservations here.

Is Pikes Peak Highway Safe To Drive?

The drive to the Pikes Peak Summit is 19 miles long, has 156 turns, and climbs 6,715 ft from the entrance of the highway. That might sound scary, but as long as you use common sense, are cautious, and follow the guidelines, driving to the top of Pikes Peak is not dangerous at all!

The road is paved the entire way and there are lots of established pull-offs where you can pull over, take a break, check out the scenery, and adjust to the altitude.

The Pikes Peak Highway is open year-round, weather permitting. If there is ever a situation where the weather would make driving the road dangerous, the Pikes Peak Highway will be closed. So if you’re wondering- is it safe to drive up Pikes Peak- just know that you won’t be allowed to drive if it wasn’t safe.

The highway also closes when the snow is too hard to plow nearer the summit, so it’s always a good idea to check first before heading to the mountain.

Make sure that you call in advance to check road conditions: 719-385-7325

Driving Pikes Peak Tips

Can I Drive to the Top of Pikes Peak Overlook

There are just a couple of things to know before heading up the mountain. Here are some tips for how to drive up Pikes Peak.

  •  Make sure that you have plenty of gas before you head out. The drive to Pikes Peak is only 39 miles round trip but you will use more than ½ a tank of gas. (The closest gas station is 7 miles away from the Pikes Peak Highway entrance in Manitou Springs.)
  • Never pass other vehicles, especially on the turns.
  • Only stop at designated stopping areas to take pictures on your way up or down.
  • Make sure that you downshift on the way down to avoid your brakes heating up too much.
  • Have someone designated for driving and another for taking photos. Make sure the driver is 100% focused on the road.

The gate attendant will review all other Pikes Peak driving instructions with you before you begin your trip- no need to worry!

Visiting Pikes Peak Tips

Besides driving up Pikes Peak tips, it’s important to be adequately prepared for your time on the mountain. Here are a few tips to make sure you have the best time:

  • The summit is on average 30 degrees colder than the temperature at the gate. Make sure you dress in layers!
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat- the sun can be intense the higher up you go no matter what time of year you’re doing the Pikes Peak drive.
  • Take your time taking pictures and on your stops to help with adjusting to the altitude.

Pikes Peak Elevation & Altitude Sickness

Can you Drive to Pikes Peak in the Snow

You might be wondering- how high is Pikes Peak above sea level? At the summit, you will be standing at an elevation that is more than double what it was down in Colorado Springs, which is already over 6,000 feet (1,828.8 meters) above sea level!

The Pikes Peak summit is at an elevation of 14,115 feet. Not a lot of people are used to this high of an elevation so it’s important to know going into your drive that it’s possible to feel the effects of altitude sickness the higher you go. 

There is no rhyme or reason to why one person feels dizzy or lightheaded at a higher altitude. The best way to combat altitude sickness is to make sure you take your time driving up Pikes Peak by taking plenty of stops and walking around a bit at each stop.

If you feel extremely lightheaded or dizzy, the best way to start feeling better is to get to a lower elevation. So just head back down the mountain as soon as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Drive Up Pikes Peak?

If you’re wondering how long does it take to drive Pikes Peak highway? It takes a little more than one hour to get to the Pikes Peak lookout and approximately a half-hour to drive back down. 

This Pikes Peak drive time is without taking any stops along the way. It will probably take you longer to drive the Pikes Peak mountain drive because you will stop along the way for pictures. The average time to drive up Pikes Peak is 2-3 hours round trip for most people.

If you are planning on driving to top of Pikes Peak- I would recommend taking the entire day (or most of the day) to explore. The drive to Pikes Peak summit is beautiful and you are bound to want to stop every 2 seconds to take in the view.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Drive Up Pikes Peak?

When driving Pikes Peak Highway you’re going to want to make sure that you are driving at the best time of day. The best time of day to visit Pikes Peak is when it is not too crowded but also leaves you enough time to get down off the mountain before sunset.

We recommend you start the Pikes Peak summit drive either very early in the morning right when the gates open or in the afternoon after lunchtime. This is the best time to drive Pikes Peak for fewer crowds & plenty of daylight.  The road up to Pikes Peak can definitely be dangerous in the dark as there are no lights lighting up the road so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to drive back down.

Pikes Peak Gate Hours

If you’re wondering- is the road to the top of Pikes Peak open? Check out this handy chart we made for the dates and hours Pikes Peak is open. Of course, it’s always a good idea to double-check the hours on the park’s website before heading there.

Pikes Peak Drive Up

How Much Does It Cost To Drive Up Pikes Peak?

Does it cost to drive up Pikes Peak? It does, but the prices are very reasonable in our opinion. Head on over to the Pikes Peak coupon page to save a bit of money on your tickets.

FYI: If you are a rockstar at planning and know you’ll be visiting Pikes Peak ahead of time, you can grab tickets at the winter price at a discounted rate. Tickets are honored for 365 days after purchase!

Here are the ticket prices during the summer and winter months: 

pikes peak cost to drive up
pikes peak drive to the top rates

Hiking To The Summit Of Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Travel Mountain Views

Hiking to the top of Pikes Peak is not for the faint of heart. It’s a 13.5-mile hike to the summit and a 7,400+ feet elevation gain.

It is recommended that you are a strong, healthy person who is able to hike long distances, navigate difficult terrain, and do so at a high cardio level with low oxygen. If it sounds like you’re up for the challenge, here’s the info you need to know about hiking to the summit of Pikes Peak.

Summiting Pikes Peak Via The Barr Trail

The Barr Trail is one of the only trails that will take you to the summit of Pikes Peak. It was created by Fred Barr in the 1900s and redone by the Forest Service in the 1950s. It is 13.5 miles one way and a steep, hard climb to the top.

If you are interested in doing the climb over two days, it’s possible to stop at the halfway point, Barr Camp. Barr Camp is a hostel-style cabin where you can make reservations to spend the night and even get breakfast or dinner.

Summiting Pikes Peak Via The Crags Trail

The Crags Trail is a lesser-known route to the top of Pikes Peak but is actually an easier route. Crags Trail is 14 miles round trip with a 4,300-foot elevation gain.

The trail is described as relatively easy until the last 500 feet where it gets pretty steep. There are also camping options on this route at Crags Campground.

If you have your heart set on summiting Pikes Peak but aren’t into a grueling 24-mile climb, check out the Crags Trail instead.

Taking The Cog Railway To The Top Of Pikes Peak

Train to the Top of Pikes Peak

Not interested in driving to Pikes Peak summit? That’s okay! You can take advantage of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway instead of driving to the top of Pikes Peak.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has been in operation since 1891 and is the highest cog railways in the world. The train will take you past waterfalls, pine and aspen forests, and spectacular mountain scenery.

The Cog train will take you up the side of the mountain on a special track with a grade of 12% and sometimes even hitting a 24% grade! 

New in 2021, the Cog Railway, now known as the Broadmoor Cog Railways, has been completely redone due to failing infrastructure and is an upgraded, amazing experience.

Hours & Cost Of The Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The new and improved Broadmoore Pikes Peak Cog Railway begins running May 2021 and will have a new schedule as well as updated rates. Check the Broadmoore Cog Railways website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Take A Guided Tour To The Top Of Pikes Peak

The fourth way to get to the road up Pikes Peak is to take a guided tour. Many people don’t want to drive up to Pikes Peak on their own, so they would rather take a tour.

Visiting Pikes Peak by car is great, but a Pikes Peak driving tour gives you the opportunity to relax and soak everything in without worrying about doing the driving yourself. 

On this small-group guided tour, you will have the opportunity to visit two of the area’s most scenic places, Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak. Your tour guide, Jason, will make sure that you have an awesome time so you can relax and enjoy some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery.

What’s At The Top Of Pikes Peak?

Pikes Peak Summit Sign

At the top of Pikes Peak, you’ll first find an incredible view out over the Colorado mountains. On a clear day, you can actually see 5 states from the summit, ColoradoArizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Kansas!

There are 6 different overlooks at the summit where you can look out and see varying scenery. There is also a gift shop, as well as a donut house.

The donuts made at the donut house are a super popular treat to get when summiting Pikes Peak. The donuts are made with a special technique since the altitude causes issues when using traditional methods. If you’re wondering- is driving up Pikes Peak is worth it? I’d say it’s worth it just for the donuts!

Where To Stay Near Pikes Peak Highway

Driving Pikes Peak Cabin for Two
Photo Credit: VRBO.com

Top Pick:

This cabin for two is a perfect escape for anyone looking to spend some time exploring Pikes Peak. The hosts have gone the extra mile by making sure you are extra comfortable and taken care of during your stay.

They provide a bottle of wine, chocolate, and an easy-to-make dinner for your first night in the cabin. The cabin is tucked in a secluded pine tree forest and has an adorable back porch with a gas-burning fire pit. There’s a lot to love about this little cabin in the woods!

Cabin for Two Pikes Peak
Image Credit: VRBO.com

Unique/Budget Option:

This adorable tiny house cottage is a perfect stay for anyone looking for a unique Airbnb. Just minutes away from the town of Woodland Park, this tiny house is nestled among the mountains and has gorgeous views around every corner. 

The house comes with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living area, even a washer & dryer! So even though it’s tiny- you’ll have everything you could possibly need.

This is a great stay for someone looking to explore Pikes Peak on a budget, and disconnect while reconnecting to nature.

Driving to the top of Pikes Peak Cabin
Image Credit: VRBO.com

Group/Family Option:

This amazing cabin retreat in the mountains is an amazing option for a large group or family. Even though this Airbnb has the look of a cabin, it really is a luxurious escape at a very reasonable price! 

You and your family or friends will have a blast soaking in the hot tub, sitting around the cozy fireplace, playing pool or foosball, having drinks on the patio overlooking the gorgeous view, or cooking a homemade meal in the huge kitchen.

Not to mention this cabin is only minutes away from the Pikes Peak Highway entrance and all the other amazing things to do in the area!

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