Pikes Peak Mountain Sightseeing Bus Tour ~ Colorado Springs Vacation Pictures

Flowers viewed on our way up Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Flowers viewed going up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.
Flowers viewed going up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. | Source

America the Beautiful


This towering mountain in Colorado Springs called Pikes Peak dominates the landscape. Naturally when my mother and I were visiting Colorado Springs while on vacation one year, we wanted to see the top of this "purple mountain" and did so by purchasing tickets on a Grayline sightseeing bus tour.

Why was the term "purple mountain" used?

For those who might not know, the well known anthem "America the Beautiful" was inspired when Katharine Lee Bates gazed at the wonder of Pikes Peak which is over 14,000 feet in elevation. She was a professor of English literature at Wellesley College who happened to ride to the top of this purple mountain majesty in a wagon in the year 1893.

The words of the first verse of America the Beautiful are as follows:

"O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."

Such a beautiful song and Pikes Peak is an appropriately beautiful sight!



Bierstadt painting of Pikes Peak

Bierstadt painting of Pikes Peak
Bierstadt painting of Pikes Peak | Source

Pikes Peak


Driving up to the summit of Pikes Peak would have been a daunting task for one who is used to the flat topography of Houston, Texas.

My mother and I were leasing a car while on this Colorado vacation and decided to just be a passenger on a Gray-line tour of this mountainous climb of over 6,710 feet riddled with turn after turn on a graded road with some sheer drop-offs.

Once we started the ascent, we were even more happy that we had made that decision!

Columbine flower

One of the wildflowers viewed going up Pikes Peak is the columbine...Colorado's state flower.
One of the wildflowers viewed going up Pikes Peak is the columbine...Colorado's state flower. | Source

Bus tours


Often when on vacation we have taken advantage of bus tours when we are in new (to us) places. Not only do the bus drivers and tourism guides know the lay of the land but also impart information about what one is viewing.

The Gray-line tour that my mother and I chose to take to ascend Pikes Peak was well worth the money.

A stop was made part way up the mountain ( mile 6 marker ) at the Crystal Reservoir visitor center.

The flower pictured to the right is a columbine which happens to be the Colorado state flower.

Crystal Reservoir - Colorado Springs

Crystal Reservoir


Stopping at this point in the ascent up Pikes Peak gives people a chance to see the beautiful Crystal Reservoir and walk around a bit to become more acclimatized to the altitude and purchase refreshments or use the restrooms if desired.

We took the time to ambulate, take photos and generally enjoy the scenery.


View of Crystal Reservoir on our way up Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of Crystal ReservoirMy mother and me with Crystal Reservoir in background.Crystal Reservoir visitor centerPhoto taken at the Crystal River visitor center.
View of Crystal Reservoir
View of Crystal Reservoir | Source
My mother and me with Crystal Reservoir in background.
My mother and me with Crystal Reservoir in background. | Source
Crystal Reservoir visitor center
Crystal Reservoir visitor center | Source
Photo taken at the Crystal River visitor center.
Photo taken at the Crystal River visitor center. | Source

Rock Climbing at Crystal Reservoir / Colorado

Mountain climbing classes at Crystal Reservoir
Mountain climbing classes at Crystal Reservoir | Source

Many Activities at Pikes Peak Colorado

At Crystal Reservoir it was easy to see that rock (mountain) climbing classes were being held. We saw quite a few people making their ascent with the help of instructors.

Hiking, fishing and boating is also enjoyed at this high elevation mountain lake and locale.

Ascending Pikes Peak

Looking out the Gray-line bus windows towards the mountain as we were ascending Pikes Peak in July, we saw numerous blooming wildflowers amidst the rocks.

Scenery going up Pikes Peak

Scenery viewed from the bus windows going up Pikes Peak.
Scenery viewed from the bus windows going up Pikes Peak. | Source

Car going up Pikes Peak

Looking at a car venturing up Pikes Peak.
Looking at a car venturing up Pikes Peak. | Source

Pikes Peak Hill Climb, July 19, 2009

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb


Mind you...we were on a bus tour, but looking out of the window at the car traveling this road with the steep ascent and many twists and turns in the road, we learned that there are adventurous auto racers that race this road on an annual basis some of which is not even paved, but gravel.


Crazy! That is solely my opinion after traveling up this mountainous road with the relative assurance of having a seasoned bus driver escorting us. That was scary enough for me!

1916 was the date of the first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race.

The course is over 12 miles long and consists of 156 turns and just about 5,000 feet of elevation gain. There are very few stretches of highway with some relatively straight stretches and in those rare instances, some of the winning cars have exceeded 130 miles per hour! Again...I repeat...crazy!!!

For race car drivers such as the ones who compete in the Indianapolis 500, this is just another test of their skills and competence in handling their souped up race cars.


Pikes Peak Highway

Pikes Peak Highway
Pikes Peak Highway | Source

Pikes Peak Summit


The air is thin at the summit of Pikes Peak and from that vantage point if the day is clear one can see as far as Kansas and even New Mexico.

There is a restaurant / souvenir shop at that location that actually offers an oxygen bar for those people who are having a bit of difficulty in breathing.

Naturally most people wish to have their pictures taken at that landmark location and my mother and I exchanged cameras with other tourists and snapped photos so that we could each take home proof of our having been to the summit of Pikes Peak.

Summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado

Summit of Pikes Peak with my mother.
Summit of Pikes Peak with my mother. | Source
Source

Also viewed high atop Pikes Peak is a monument to Olympic athlete winners as shown in the picture below.

Pikes Peak - Monument to Olympic Winners

Monument to Olympic winners at the top of Pikes Peak.
Monument to Olympic winners at the top of Pikes Peak. | Source

Cog railway up to Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Cog Railway


Climbing nine miles up with a vertical ascent of 7,539 feet, one can choose to get to the top of Pikes Peak by riding the highest cog railroad in the United States instead of driving or hiking.

Yes, some adventurous and athletic types choose to hike up Pikes Peak!

Many people ride this cog railway and see mountain scenery from that perspective.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

People arriving on the Pikes Peak cog railway.
People arriving on the Pikes Peak cog railway. | Source
Source

Zebulon Pike


He was an explorer and soldier who attempted climbing the mountain in 1806 and Pikes Peak now bears his name even though he never made it to the top. His mapping of the area was most important and furthered exploration of the west.

Views from top of Pikes Peak in Colorado

View of the cog railway track and beautiful rainbow at the top of Pikes Peak.
View of the cog railway track and beautiful rainbow at the top of Pikes Peak. | Source
View from the top of Pikes Peak.
View from the top of Pikes Peak. | Source

Have you visited Colorado Springs and gone to the top of Pikes Peak Mountain?

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As you can probably see from these Colorado Springs vacation pictures, a sightseeing bus tour of Pikes Peak or a cog railroad trip to the top makes for a unique experience.

One is rewarded with spectacular scenery as one travels through five different life zones and on a clear day it almost seems as though the horizon from this top of the world perspective is limitless.

Pikes Peak Mountain

A markerPikes Peak Mountain -
Pikes Peak, CO, USA
[get directions]

If you enjoyed this article, please give it some stars. Thank you!

5 out of 5 stars from 3 ratings of Pikes Peak

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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Comments are most welcome! 37 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Thanks Au fait,

It is interesting that you are using colors on your Pinterest boards. Thanks for the pin, 5 star rating and votes on this Pikes Peak hub.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Gorgeous photos and videos! I didn't know America the Beautiful was referring to Pike's Peak as the 'purple mountain majesty.'

You are so right when you say there are some crazy drivers racing around those sharp turns and roads with no guardrails to keep them from going over cliffs. Check out my article on the Colorado National Monument and read how they had to fish (usually teenage boys) out of the bottom of that canyon several times a year.

Voted up, BAI, shared, and pinned to my 'Purple II' board -- because of the flowers. Also, 5 more stars!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hello cclitgirl,

We did have a great time seeing Pikes Peak and much of the Colorado Springs area. Thanks for your comment. Worried about the wildfires there that are threatening much of Colorado Springs this month of late June, 2o12. Do you still have anyone living there?


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I'm a Colorado Springs native and have been to Pikes Peak several times. It looks like you had a great time! I'll have to link to this hub in one of my upcoming hubs. Thanks for sharing this. :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

Often we would do that...take a sightseeing bus tour on new areas whether it was Pikes Peak or different areas of the country. Not only can one see more but generally one is advised of things that one might never have known if it were not for tours. That way the pictures have more meaning. Thanks for visiting this Colorado Springs hub.


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