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!

Different Ways to Get to Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Road

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
  • 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.

Hiking all day up the side of a mountain is great if you’re 22 and built like an action figure. But what about the rest of us? What about families with small kids?

What if you’re simply in a time crunch and don’t want to sacrifice your time when you only have one or two days for vacation? That's why being able to drive Pikes Peak is awesome.

The list of reasons why you won’t want to miss out on driving Pikes Peak pass is just about as long as the mountain is high. So let’s focus on just the main one, time. If you’re looking for a day trip or even a half-day trip, Pikes Peak highway is for you.

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.

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 breaks 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?

For the people wondering how long does it take to drive Pikes Peak- it's a little more than one hour to get to the top 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.

Pikes Peak Gate Hours

If you're wondering- is 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, Colorado, Arizona, 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.

 

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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Author

Ron Sefcik is the co-founder of Unearth The Voyage.

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