Travel Diaries: Visiting Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is one of the most famous mountains in the United States. Pikes Peak also is known as America’s Mountain is one of Colorado’s more than 50 ‘fourteeners’ or mountains that are more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Most of the fourteeners are deep in the mountains and require some hiking to get to, however, Pikes Peak is the exception. Not only is Pikes Peak conveniently located just outside Colorado Springs, driving Pikes Peak is actually possible.

It’s true, you can actually drive to the Pikes Peak Summit. Hiking all day up the side of a mountain is great, but for those of you who have small children or have not trained to climb a fourteener, driving up Pikes Peak is the perfect way for you to take in some amazing views.

If you’re in Colorado Springs and looking for a day trip or even a half-day trip, Pikes Peak Highway is perfect for you.

How Long is the Drive up Pikes Peak?
The paved toll road may only be 19-miles long, however with over a hundred and fifty switchbacks and quite a bit of traffic at times you will want to plan on it taking more than an hour to reach the summit of Pikes Peak – this is without making stops along the way, and trust me you will want to pull over and take in the views.

Pikes Peak Driving Tips
1. When driving up Pikes Peak you will want to make sure that you have plenty of gas. Typically you will use more than ½ tank of gas – so make sure you plan accordingly.
2. Never pass other vehicles, especially on turns – the drive can be scary so make sure you are being as safe as possible.
3. Only stop at designated stopping areas to take pictures on your way up and down.
4. Listen to the driving instructions that the gate attendant gives you before you begin your trip up Pikes Peak.
5. Dress in layers – no matter the time of year it’s going to be cold.

Pro Tip: Begin your trip to the summit with a full tank of gas.

What should I bring with me on my drive to Pikes Peak?
Keep in mind, you will be climbing from an elevation of 7,400 feet to over 14,000 feet. Temperatures, weather, winds, and altitude will be changing.
1. Begin with a full tank of gas, there are no gas stations once you start
2. Bring and drink plenty of water
3. Layer up
4. Sunglasses
5. Sunscreen
6. Sunscreen chapstick
7. Camera

Avoiding Altitude Sickness 
Unless you’re acclimated to this altitude, you will likely experience the effects of it. The air is thin at the summit and holds about 60% of the oxygen your body is used to. Be prepared to feel out of breath as soon as you step out of the car.

Tips to Prevent Altitude Sickness

1. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day
2. Avoid alcohol
3. Avoid unnecessary physical exertion

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