Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs Travel Blog› entry 1 of 8 › view all entries
The 85th Pike's Peak International Hill Climb took place on Saturday, July 21. This is a race in which vehicles in 16 different categories (such as race car, motorcycle, semi, etc) race up a 12 mile stretch of the road starting at 9000 ft and ending at the peak at 14,000 ft. The record time is just over 12 minutes! This road is super curvy and has sections of gravel. Most curves don't have guardrails!
The entrance fee is $10 per person (adult) to drive to the top. But the drive is worth it! It is gorgeous! The view from the top is so-so, but the drive was amazing. Very curvy. We tried to drive sort of fast, but there were too many cars on the road. We kept getting behind slow people and it took us much longer than 12 mintues to get to the top! We didn't stop on the way up - we wanted to get there before the clouds roll in.
We get to the top and the parking lot is almost full - and it is a HUGE parking lot. We park and walk over to the viewing area, but didn't linger. The viewing area smelled like urine. Apparently many people like to pee off the top (or they have a leak in the toilet system). We walked around, climbed on the rocks, and took some pictures. It was a little hazy, so the view wasn't the best, but you could see many of the reservoirs that water the nearby cities. There is also a cog railroad that you can ride to the top, but we didn't do that.
The sign in front of the visitor center/gift shop is popular for taking photos with the summit and elevation on it.
The gift shop was packed - long bathroom lines, no room to even walk! We overheard the cashier saying, "yeah, this is the busiest day of the year - the day after the Hill Climb." Of course! No wonder there were so many people here! They all came for the race! Well maybe not all of them, since we didn't go to the race. At one point I felt a pair of fuzzy hands on my shoulders, so I turn around and see a person in a sheep costume taking pictures with little kids.
But we enjoyed the way down. I drove in low gear and hardly even needed to use the brakes. I was riding and snapping photos on the way up, so I volunteered to drive down. Super fun. We stopped at Devil's Playground and played on the rocks. I love climbing on rocks. So I took lots of photos while playing. It is named Devil's Playground because lightning dances over the rocks during thunderstorms (and they have some pretty awesome lightning strikes here).
Partway down, they have a brake check - if your brakes are running hot, you had to pull over and let them cool.
Since we were in a sight seeing mood, we went to Garden of the Gods on the way back to the hotel. This is a free park that you just drive through or stop and hike. Again, lots of people had the same idea we did. We pulled off and hiked a little, but the main parking areas were pretty full. We got there at a great time though. The low sun made the red rocks glow. It was so pretty. I took photos out my window. But we just drove through once and called it a day. We figured we can come back another day.