Drive Pikes Peak Highway
Pikes Peak is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful mountains. Not only did it inspire the song “America the Beautiful,” but the peak has also been a focal point of Colorado adventurers.
At over 14,000 ft of elevation, Pikes Peak dominates the western skyline above Colorado Springs, CO. While Colorado has a number of iconic mountains, none has reached the level of fame as Pikes Peak.
One of the coolest things about Pikes Peak is that you can actually drive to its summit. If you’re visiting Colorado Springs and would like the adventure of a lifetime, be sure to take a drive up the Pikes Peak Highway.
What is the Pikes Peak Highway?
Mt. Evans and Pikes Peak are the only two 14,000 ft peaks in Colorado where you can actually drive to the summit. However, the road to Mt. Evans falls a bit short of the true summit, while the Pikes Peak Highway goes right to the very top at 14,115 ft.
The road up Pikes Peak runs 19 miles and gains an astonishing 7,400 ft in elevation. On the drive, you will pass through several climate zones with unique ecosystems all their own.
How Long Does the Pike Peak Drive Take?
The Pikes Peak scenic drive runs 19 miles in each direction. However, with hairpin turns and incredible views, this isn’t your average drive. To this end, incredible photo opportunities and educational stops will greatly increase your overall drive time.
Most people spend 2-3 hours in the car driving up Pikes Peak. Nonetheless, if you plan on stopping to soak in the scenery or go for a hike, you should set aside more time than just a couple of hours.
Please bear in mind, the Pikes Peak Highway has strict operational hours. To this end, the uphill gate opens at 7:30 am and the summit closes at 7:00 pm during peak summer season. If your family wants to maximize their time on Pikes Peak, we recommend an early departure.
What is the Summit of Pikes Peak Like?
Beyond incredible views spanning hundreds of miles, the Pikes Peak Summit House is a major attraction at the top of the mountain.
The Summit House is newly remodeled and now features a plethora of educational exhibits and food options. Even more, when it is freezing cold outside, the Summit House is a great place to get away from the elements and warm up.
While the Summit House offers a variety of food choices, it will always be known for its doughnuts. In fact, doughnuts have been served at the Summit House since it was originally built and open for the public in the 1960s. Today, the Summit House is the only place in the world that makes and sells doughnuts at over 14,000 ft elevation!
What Should I Pack for My Pikes Peak Drive?
Because the drive to the summit of Pikes Peak climbs nearly 8,000 ft in elevation, you will experience drastically different temperatures along the way. In summer, it’s not unusual for it to be 80 deg F in Colorado Springs, while below freezing at the summit!
Due to the intense temperature gradients in the Rocky Mountains, you should be prepared for a variety of conditions. Always bring a long sleeve shirt and windbreaker. If you plan on spending a good deal of time outside at high elevations, bringing a winter hat and gloves isn’t a bad idea.
Thunderstorms are also common during summer in Colorado. Please keep an eye out for any potentially threatening weather. If the weather gets bad, the peak will be closed and people will have to leave the mountain for the day.