Friday, July 4, 2014

Pikes Peak Highway...America's Mountain

Garden of the Gods RVC Outdoor Destinations
Colorado Springs, CO
July 2, 2014

 No trip to Colorado Springs is complete without a ride on the Pikes Peak Highway. Last Wednesday  was our day to take the 19-mile trip "to the clouds" and explore America's Mountain. 

" From the gateway at an elevation of 7,400 ft., you'll encounter some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world as you wind your way through an alpine wonderland of scenic beauty."

 As we entered Pike National Forest, we were a little concerned we had chosen the wrong day. The fog was very thick and restricted our views.
Jade leads the way...

Ronnie, Carol and their daughter Shannon, who is visiting, led the way...

Larkspur, a bright purple/blue wildflower was growing all along the road in beautiful patches mixed with pink wild roses and clover.  "Stop..." and "Oh my!" were the words of the day along with many oohs and aahs. Stopping to take pictures is tricky...lucky for us, there wasn't a lot of traffic.

After mile marker 3, we began to see the sunshine peeking thru the trees...yeah!

and a few miles later, we were looking down on the clouds.

Ronnie, Shannon and Joe

Our first stop for everyone to get out and stretch came just after mile marker 6.

Looking up...

...looking down...

...we were surrounded by incredible beauty!

From this point, it was easy to recognize the dramatic changes in scenery.

The subalpine zone (between 9,000 and 11,000 ft.) with its Rocky Mountain Fir trees...

...followed by the alpine zone(above 11,500ft.)...the land of no trees. Can you believe the growing season here is between 6 to 8 weeks? There were still signs of winter...

The plants here are dwarfed to escape the harsh winds blowing just inches above them. But they sure have showy blooms.

Yellow-bellied marmots live here too.

These marmots spend about 80% of their life in their burrows but are commonly seen in the early summer mornings or late afternoons enjoying a bit of sunshine.

The alpine zone is followed by boulders...nothing green at all

and then the summit!
In 1859, the earliest record found, the altitude of Pikes Peak is recorded at 14,500 ft.. In 1909, a survey reset the altitude at 14,107, again in 1951 at 14,110 ft., and in 2002, yet another measurement reset it at 14,115. As you can see, the sign still reflects the earlier measurement. Lets just say it is dang high, we were all light headed and woozy. It was quite breezy and chilly at the summit noon it was 52* without considering the wind chill. No wonder long johns, sweatshirts, and blankets for sale filled the store. Yummy smells of doughnuts, coffee, and warm cinnamon pecans filled the air. 

The ride down was a hoot...this twisty winding road was built in 1915 and today is maintained by the City of Colorado Springs. An earlier road up the mountain, Pikes Peak Carriage Road, dates back to 1888. Thousands of tourists traveled it to the summit until it closed in 1902.

There is a mandatory brake check right at 6 miles from the top going down. It really is steep and curvy! The Ranger uses an infra-red wand to determine how hot the front rotors are...anything 300F and over has to wait there. 

It was an exhilarating day!  Can you believe the same foggy clouds that had greeted us at Pikes Forest were there to say "Come back soon."?

Just a few post cards from our day...I took over 300 pictures, enjoying every second!

Have you traveled Pikes Peak Highway?
Shouldn't it be spelled Pike's Peak? In the early days it was, but in 1891, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names recommended against the use of apostrophes in geographic names.
Happy Birthday America!

Until next time...
...happy trails!


  1. You sure are adventurous and seem to thoroughly enjoy yourselves. Colorado is a beautiful place to be and a beautiful place to venture out on the backroads. More gorgeous pictures for sure.

    1. Thank you Jeri. Colorado is beautiful. We are having a great time....

  2. As usual, your photography is just breathtaking. Can you believe that in all of our time in Colorado, we have NEVER driven up to Pikes Peak. !!

    1. Thank you really is a beautiful drive! You would love the wildflowers.

  3. Isn't it cool that you got above the clouds!! The wildflowers are gorgeous. I love the mini versions on the tundra. The marmot is a favorite. I use to read a book to my students where this was the main characters favorite animal. Gorgeous views:) Thanks for the explanation of the missing apostraphe!

    1. The marmots were so cute Pam...
      And the wildflowers had such vivid color...absolutely beautiful!

  4. Absolutely spectacular! What a great way to celebrate our nations birthday!

    1. America's birthday on America's Mountain...great time of year to be here!
      Thanks Gayle!

  5. We drove the highway last year. Wasn't sure Jim would be able to breathe at the top with his lung problems but he did really good. I sure felt it though. It's an incredible drive.

    1. I sure felt it too Sandie...but it was soooooo worth it!

  6. Beautiful drive! I have to say that the snow pictures look especially inviting. Today is the hottest day we've seen here in Custer South Dakota. At least I know it will cool down by evening. Keep having fun!!!!

    1. We had a warm day here too Joan...hope you and Steve are both doing great. We loved the time we spent in Custer. For sure there are some great bike rides!

  7. Utah and now Colorado! That's what we plan after we leave mom and dad on our way to Arkansas. --Dave (

    1. Good morning would be hard to pick a favorite between those two. Both are beautiful and so different!

  8. Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey with pictures! This is a bucket list thing for me, even though we took the cog rail up to the top years ago. What a wonderful experience that must have been!