Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods

Colorado Springs Travel Blog

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Start of the Pike's Peak Hill Climb race

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.

tree line
  Clouds usually cover the peak by 1 pm, and it was already 2, so we wanted to take advantage of the clear view. 

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.

racing up the gravel part
  There was even a line for photos!  And its not like it took much to get there - you just drive.  We could feel the lower oxygen level and we were getting a little light headed.  But not too bad because we weren't exerting much energy up there.  The oxygen at the top is about half that at sea level! 

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.

reservoirs
  We also heard some stories of stupid questions up there - "at what altitude do deer turn into elk?"  and "look at that moose!"  (it was a bighorn sheep). 

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.

rock slide
  I had hardly used my brakes, so I breezed right through.  But many people probably ruined their brakes because they don't know how to drive in low gear.  So drive in low gear!!!  The slow person in front of me had to pull over because they were riding their brakes the whole way down.

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. 

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Start of the Pikes Peak Hill Clim…
Start of the Pike's Peak Hill Cli…
tree line
tree line
racing up the gravel part
racing up the gravel part
reservoirs
reservoirs
rock slide
rock slide
Cool rocks - not sure of name
Cool rocks - not sure of name
switchbacks
switchbacks
U-turn
U-turn
driving into the clouds
driving into the clouds
The winding road
The winding road
view while driving
view while driving
me enjoying the ride up
me enjoying the ride up
little lakes near the top
little lakes near the top
The summit!  14,110 ft.
The summit! 14,110 ft.
The view from the top
The view from the top
Cog railroad arriving
Cog railroad arriving
view of part of the parking lot!
view of part of the parking lot!
Peeing off the top?  (He wasnt)
Peeing off the top? (He wasn't)
Me on the top!
Me on the top!
Devils Playground
Devil's Playground
view from reservoir
view from reservoir
Cool rocks
Cool rocks
cool rocks with scale
cool rocks with scale
Climbing cool rocks
Climbing cool rocks
atop Devils Playground
atop Devil's Playground
Me on rocks in Devils Playground
Me on rocks in Devil's Playground
Looking down from the rocks
Looking down from the rocks
Stuck in the crack
Stuck in the crack
Windy road
Windy road
Top of Devils Playground
Top of Devil's Playground
Reservoirs from the rocks
Reservoirs from the rocks
little alpine flowers
little alpine flowers
Cool rocks on the curve
Cool rocks on the curve
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
Sleeping Giant
Sleeping Giant
rock formation along stream we hik…
rock formation along stream we hi…
He doesnt like me
He doesn't like me
nice red rocks
nice red rocks
The hogbacks
The hogbacks