Ever since Zebulon Pike failed to summit Pikes Peak in 1806, mountaineers have come to this grand spot in the Rocky Mountains to have their own go of it. At 14,110 ft this is one of 53 mountains that are greater than 14,000 feet in Colorado and a challenge to climb.
There are several ways to reach the summit of Pikes. The first is just plain old hoofing it up the mountain via Barr Trail which is considered a Class 1 trail. It is a 13 mile climb to the top with an 8,ooo ft elevation difference from start to finish.
Another way to reach the summit is The Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway which operates out of Manitou Springs weather permitting. It is a cog railway and is the highest railway in North America. This is an expensive way to summit at $38 per adult but the views are stunning and it is an unforgettable experience.
Since 2011 Pikes Peak Highway has been opened to the top. It is a 19 mile drive from Ute Pass and is maintained as a toll road so there is a fee to use it. At the top you will find a Visitors Center and gift shop but it is the things you will see along the way that you will long remember…the alpine woods, three magnificent lakes and the historic Glen Cove Inn. These are the things that come to mind when I think of Pikes Peak.
As always when you are at these altitudes be sure to bring along plenty of water so you keep hydrated. Altitude sickness with its attending headache is often experienced by visitors who do not take the time to acclimate. And remember it is COLD at the top so dress accordingly. At Pikes the scenery is vast and the climb is one of those once-in-a- lifetime things you must do. So go and enjoy Pikes no matter how you get there!
Dave climbing near Pikes Peak in Colorado
This summer we traveled to Colorado Springs to visit with our eldest son and our granddaughter. Colorado Springs is a fascinating place …the counterculture mixing with the nouve rich. It is a place with Jamba Juice and Starbucks on every corner battling it out for the oh-so-mighty dollar.
But it is also a amazing place full of wild untamed beauty and scenic vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. So image my surprise when we ventured forth to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo when we were able to combine two favorites into one…views for mom and cute cuddly animals for the kids. We hit the jackpot!
Of course, for a kid there is nothing to be beat when feeding a giraffe. Lettuce leaves are the food of choice as the long silky purple tongues reach out to take their favorite treats from your hands. Meeting a giraffe up close and personal is something that you never forget.
The zoo also has a unique exhibit which showcases animals from the area in a natural setting. Here you will find grizzly bears, moose, mountain lions and many other animals that you might meet if you were hiking in the surrounding mountains. Yes, sometimes you have to look to find these magnificent creatures but that is part of the charm of the place.
Encounter Africa was another favorite giving the kids a chance to see elephants, rhino, and meerkats and a gigantic living termite mound. UGH! That left me itching all over for a few nights after that! The kids also loved the wind tunnel which demonstrated the strength of the winds as they cross the savannah.
For an extra cost you can also take the Mountaineer Sky ride which is essentially a ski-lift chair that rides to the top of the mountain as your travel over the animal exhibits.
This zoo was a big hit for all involved no matter what their age. While admission prices are a little steep it is worth it if you make a day of it. FYI-take along your own bottled water.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with the last admission at 4 p.m. Hours vary during holidays.