Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in North America. The ultra-prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) fourteener is located in Pike National Forest, 12 miles (19 km) west of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike, who was unable to reach the summit. The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.
Pikes Peak is named for Zebulon Montgomery Pike, an early explorer of the Southwest. Lieutenant Pike (later General Pike), first sighted what he termed “The Great Peak” in mid-November of 1806. A few days later, he attempted to climb the mountain with a small band of men, however, heavy snows around the 10,000-foot level turned his party back. He estimated the mountain’s height at over 18,000 ft and is said to have claimed that it might never be climbed. In 1820, Edwin James, a botanist who climbed many peaks in Colorado, made it to the top. By the mid-1800’s, a trail was well established to the top, and the first woman, Julia Holmes, climbed the peak in 1858.
WAYS TO DO PIKES PEAK
You have lots of options when it comes to enjoying Pikes Peak, this is America’s Mountain after all. We’re here to help you find the perfect one for you and your crew. Whether you want to test your endurance or kick back, release and breathe it all in, we’ve got the adventure for you!
Drive a car
Best if you want to take in the view
If we mapped out the options for enjoying Pikes Peak on a scale of ease and affordability, driving your own vehicle would be the perfect apex where the two converge. By far the most popular way to summit, driving gives you the freedom to take things at your own pace. Stop at every curve of the road, or cruise straight to the clouds, you’re in charge and can spend as much time as you like during the highway’s daily hours. Bring a picnic, fishing poles, and hiking boots to make a day of it!
Local’s Tip: Be sure to pick up some summit house donuts at 14,115 ft.
Take a guided tour
Best if you want to sit back and relax
The drive up Pikes Peak is awesome, but the driver never really gets to enjoy the view. Plus, if you’re not used to mountain driving, the top of the Peak can be a little intimidating. Lucky for you, there are several tour companies who make the drive everyday and know it like the back of their hand. Whether you’re looking for a Jeep tour, a shuttle tour or a super fancy limo tour, let them keep an eye on the road while you keep an eye on those views!
TIP: See our Guided tours page for details
Take a Hike
Best if you want to get your adrenaline pumping.
Pikes Peak is one of many mountains in Colorado over 14,000 feet in elevation, and one of the tougher ones to climb. If you haven’t hiked a 14er before, we highly highly highly recommend you do your homework and PREPARE! This hike is 13.5 miles with an elevation gain of 7,400+ feet — and that’s just up. If you’re from a lower elevation, spend several days in Colorado Springs to acclimate before you go. Bring plenty of water, there’s nowhere to fill up along the trail. And make sure you have a plan to get back down. This one is a real “glute-kicker”! Be prepared so you can conquer this climb and not the other way around.
6-8 hours (one way)
Ride a bike
Best if you want to feel the wind in your hair
Remember the joy of riding your bike down a big hill as a kid? Well this is one of the biggest hills around and Challenge Unlimited is the original outfitter to guide you down. Hop in one of their vans for a beautiful drive up America’s favorite mountain. At the summit, they’ll gear you up, including bike, safety gear, and warm layers for that cool mountain air. After some pointers from the guides and a little time to practice shifting gears, you’ll be ready for the ride of your life! Sail through different biomes, watch for wildlife, and laugh like a child with the wind in his face.