One of the highlights of our road trip this summer was Pikes Peak. My kids and I all had something in particular that the road trip was built around and Pikes Peak was the hot ticket item for my son.
He has been talking about Pikes Peak forever because he loves cars and there is an incredible race that takes place at Pikes Peak. It is unbelievable that cars race up this mountain but they do.
It is known as the most dangerous hillclimb. Let’s just say I didn’t know that little fact before we drove up there. Actually, I didn’t know that until we left the park and my son said, “Congratulations Mom! You just drove the most dangerous hillclimb!”
The fee to enter Pikes Peak is $15.00 per person (kids might be less but I can’t remember). We arrived pretty early in the day so the line to get in was not long. However, when we left the line was very long! I would highly suggest arriving early because it’s stressful with traffic. Some people like to fly down the mountain even though they stress over and over to be in first gear. Also, there is a break check about half way down.
We tried to climb the mountain the day before but we had mechanical issues with our rental minivan. The next morning we were going to head on to the next city but I just could not leave Colorado and not do Pikes Peak. So, with our replacement rental minivan we decided to give it a go after-all.
The bottom of the mountain was a nice drive thru the trees. Don’t get me wrong we were still incredibly high and there were some insanely sharp turns but the view was mostly blocked by trees so it was delightful for the most part. There is a beautiful lake that we stopped at to take a break and get some nice pictures! Kerry flew into Colorado to join us for the rest of the roadtrip – just in time for the rental van to break down!
It was 19 miles worth of driving to get to the peak. Oh boy, 19 miles driving that careful and slow had my nerves shot. Maybe it’s because I was in charge of driving and ultimately the safety of my kids and Kerry – and honestly I question my ability to be the person in charge sometimes!
Once you start climbing though you are pretty committed to continue. There are a few pull off areas but I just can’t imagine trying to turn around in such a small space where one wrong move means tumbling down the mountain side. I guess you could turn around at the lodge if you needed to. It’s about halfway up.
The terrain starts to change and no doubt it is stunning to look at. Every bit of it was stunning. I notice it more when I look at the pictures because that day pretty much what I saw was the white line on the edge of the road, oncoming cars and the yellow line. I was laser focused.
I wish I could have gotten out and walked around and put our names in the snow but again I was focused on getting to the top. I’m not even afraid of heights. Kerry and I skydived from 14,000 feet which is about the height of the peak so heights are not the issue for me. I think my issue was more of the sharp turns, deadly drop offs and relying on other drivers not to be speeding or in my lane as we approached the hairpin turns.
I think there are 158 turns. However, as I was driving that day I could swear there were 10,158 turns. All of them terrifying. As in I was going 10 mph a lot of the times along with everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong it was thrilling and the same time. I was loving it at the same time that I was terrified of it.
There is a nice parking area at the top and a donut shop. The cog railway also brings people to the summit so there were many people up there. The summit is 14,115 feet. Obviously, the temperature dropped greatly. Down to about 43 degrees and it was a hot July day. We all had jackets in the car but I think we were so damn ready to get out of the car that we left the jackets behind.
Look at the cog railway ending! I mean really does the edge of the track need to be that dramatic?
The elevation didn’t bother me but it did get to my daughter! She felt better as we started the drive down and after she drank more water. My nerves were shot because I was nervous about driving down but otherwise I felt fine. Kerry remembered that she had essential oils with her and the calming one happened to be called elevation (ironic). I practically bathed in it before heading down.
Little did I know that the drive down was easy. We just kept it in first gear but the curves were less terrifying going down. I can’t explain it but it was a nice drive down. Maybe it was the calming essential oils. If so, I wish I had it on the drive up!
I am so amazed at how they even built these roads. It’s fascinating. The entire drive took about 3 hours or so.
I would highly suggest making Pikes Peak part of your Colorado trip! I am so glad that we decided to fit it in even though our schedule was totally thrown off due to the rental car issues. We managed to have a lovely sit down breakfast, drive to Pikes Peak, have dinner in Kansas and continue on to Oklahoma…all in one day. I now feel like I can take on any driving challenge and really after that 5,000 mile road trip every other drive seems like a drop in the bucket.