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Pikes Peak Railway: Pikes Peak, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Bigfoot, and More...

Updated on May 4, 2011

Pikes Peak Railway, Colorado

One of my favorite vacations in the mainland U.S. was a trip to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains several years ago, for a ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. If you have never been to this state, it is absolutely beautiful with the surrounding mountains and countryside, with plenty of great national parks and state parks to enjoy the great outdoors! Denver is the usual place to fly into, and it’s probably good to see a few of the big sites in town while you are there, but as soon as you can get a chance take off for the majesty of the surrounding area!

Driving south into the Colorado Springs area is highly recommended, and it’s one of the most scenic drives I’ve had the pleasure to travel on. As you get closer to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Railway, the mountains seem to come right up to the road and town and you’re soon experiencing a great area for both vacation and work! We set up base camp in Colorado Springs and found a nice hotel to stay at. From there, we branched off into different day trips into other areas in the locale. As with Denver, check out a few of the sites in town while you are here, and experience what they have to offer. Colorado Springs is the home to the U.S. Air Force Academy also.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway

One great side trip that everyone should make a priority to do is the Pikes Peak Cog Railway up the mountain! Pikes Peak is a very famous mountain in the Rockies, and it has an uphill truck climb every year on the long and winding road up to the top. Pikes Peak was first discovered by European Americans in 1806 by Zebulon Pike, but it wasn’t until 1820 before it was successfully climbed. It rises some 14,000 feet into the air, and that means incredibly thin amounts of oxygen in the air at the summit for those who are interested… It takes a little bit of acclimatization before feeling all right at the top, and they usually advise you not to drive up the long and winding road in your car if this altitude is something that you aren’t used to.

It’s much better to take the Pikes Peak Railway and let them do the driving; that way if you pass out due to the altitude you won’t accidentally drive off the cliff! The railway is very popular, so there can be a wait to get on in the summertime. The Pikes Peak Railway is promoted as the steepest cog train in the world, and you’ll soon find out why as it starts progressing up the mountain! It is an incredible ride, and soon you are really pressing back into your seats because of the steepness. But you will see lots of awesome animals on the trip up, and we saw a black bear, many elk, deer, marmots (little ferret like creatures), and bighorn sheep. In fact, I even claim to this day that I saw a Bigfoot way down in a grassy forest valley that we passed on the way up!

Pikes Peak Cog Railway Temperate Zones Up the Mountain...

As the Pikes Peak Railway slowly makes its way to the top of the mountain and the café and gift shop there, we passed through several types of landscapes including the Eastern Plains Zone, the Foothills Zone, the Montane Zone, the Sub-Alpine Zone, and the Alpine Zone. There are no trees at the top of course, because you are above the tree level at that point, and it’s extremely windy and cold! They suggest only staying at the top for about a half hour or so because of the altitude, and I can say that I was glad when it was time to start the downward journey!

As mentioned before, this was one of the highlights of the trip, and I’m very glad that I was able to go. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is a great experience, and the funny thing is Pikes Peak is only the 31st highest mountain in all Colorado! So if it’s high mountains you are after, I suggest planning your next vacation to the great state of Colorado!

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