Plenty of Options for Exploring and Ascending Pikes Peak

Ride, Drive or Hike to the Top of America’s Famous Mountain

Trevor Phipps


Anyone who has ever traveled through southern Colorado has noticed that the giant Pikes Peak commands top billing as the premiere view along the western skyline of Colorado’s Front Range.

The mountain is the home to one of the most famous races in the world and was the location where the famous song “America the Beautiful” was written.

But getting to the top of the Peak has now gotten a little more complicated and may take preliminary planning.


In June 2021, a newly constructed visitor’s center opened on the summit to welcome more visitors to the world famous mountain peak. But now the scenario has changes with how prospective visitors can take the drive up the mountain.


It used to be that anyone who wanted to drive their personal cars up the mountain just had to pay the admission at the gate, and cruise to the top just about every day after 9 a.m. But these days due to excessive traffic, reservations are required to drive up Pikes Peak from May 26 to September 30, during the busy summer months.


Those wanting to make the trip during the busy season must purchase a $2 timed entry permit to leave the gate between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as pay a one day admission fee which is $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 15 and $50 per car load up to five passengers. Those taking the drive in their own vehicles have the opportunity to stop at several lookout points, experience the Glen Cove Inn halfway up, and mow down on some world-famous donuts at the visitor’s center on the summit.


Also, in an attempt to decrease traffic, the mountain will be offering a shuttle service that takes people from the Mile 7 marker on the highway to the summit. The shuttle runs up the mountain from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the final ride leaving the summit at 6:10 p.m.


People can ride the shuttle to the top, and then spend as much time as they want before catching a shuttle ride down that leaves every half hour. Those wanting to ride the shuttle can do so for $23 per adult, $7 for kids age 6 to 15 and children under 6 ride for free. Those paying to ride the shuttle don’t have to pay the $2 timed entry fee or separate one day admission.


During the busiest part of the summer from May 26 to July 31, there is shuttle service from Devil’s Playground to the summit when the parking at the top fills up. To drive up the mountain or book a ride on the shuttle visit


Ride the Other Side on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway


Also in 2021, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway opened with new tracks and cars after closing for a short period. The prices did slightly go up to help pay for the multi-million dollar upgrade project, but the railway has been open for year-round traffic ever since.


The journey starts in Manitou Springs at the end of Ruxton Ave. across the street from the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail trailheads and parking lots. The entire trip spans about four hours and riders are asked arrive 30 minutes early. The ride to the summit takes about an hour and visitors spend 40 minutes at the summit before taking the hour and 10-minute trip back down the mountain.


Visitors get to relax and see views that cannot be witnessed by summiting the mountain in any other way. Rates to ride up Pikes Peak on the cog railway start at $49.50 for passengers 13 years and older and $49.50 for those under 13 when tickets are booked online at


Two Trails to Hike Up America’s Mountain


For the more adventurous people who want a challenge, there are two different trails that people can hike up the mountain to enjoy the views. However, both trails are considered to be extremely difficult and only experienced hikers with the appropriate gear should attempt to hike the 14,115-foot mountain.


The most popular way to hike the Fourteener is to take the Barr Trail that starts in Manitou Springs. The trail is labeled advanced because it is a 26-mile round trip trail that gains 7,500 feet in altitude during the journey. Most hikers take six to ten hours to hike up and down the trail.


Another option for hikers is to summit Pikes Peak from the backside starting at the Crags Trailhead located south of Divide across Highway 67 from Mueller State Park. But even though this route is shorter, it is not easier by any means as it is a much steeper hike.


Hikers going up the backside will experience different views, but the climb is much steeper and slicker. The trail is much shorter at around a 13 mile-round trip.


Even though the previously mentioned ways to experience the Pikes Peak Summit are the most common, some might prefer the views by flying over the mountain in a helicopter. Colorado Vertical Helicopter Tours ( offers tours of the Pikes Peak Region and the Royal Gorge for under $500 per person.