In 2010 I took the Cog Railway up to Pikes Peak, so when I had family in town, I suggested the train ride because it was fun and you didn't have to make that 19 mile drive. But when we arrived we were told a train derailed near the station and no further train would be running that day. What to do? That was all we had planned.
I sucked it up and decided we would drive up. Driving saved us a bunch of money, only costing $40 but I was a little nervous to drive up America's Mountain. I asked the toll gate lady about the drive and she said "there are guard rails where they are needed"that made me feel better and we began our ride.
Our first stop was the big foot sign just after Mile Marker 3. This sign was placed on the highway to mark the approximate location where a visitor spotted a Big Foot like creature in 2001. I know that sounds crazy....a sign for one sighting? But no, apparently there have been multiple sightings (read here). Are you curious how to report a big foot sighting? I know I was so I looked it up. Go here.
The drive continued through an aspen forest with little elevation gain, I was happy. I thought, I got this no problem! But I knew I'd be going above the tree line soon enough. We stopped at a dam (which would offer an even more beautiful view in the fall when the aspen's change) then continued up.
Soon my sister in the back seat started to panic. The road started to get windy as it weaved up the switchbacks. Where are those guard rails?
|where are the guard rails?????|
When we crossed the tree line I told my passengers to keep their eye out for wildlife. And sure enough we saw mountain goats. One was even in the middle of the road (which is why we started looking around).
After a bit more, we finally reached the summit. I was glad to have a break from driving! While my passengers had things to tend to, my nephew & I went into the visitor center and got a few doughnuts hoping that would calm...or rather distract everyone else's bellies. We took in the views from the "America the Beautiful" sign and then made our way to the Pikes Peak Summit sign for photos.
We only got a short time for viewing the scenery before the clouds moved in. They kept rising and soon it even started to hail.
After spending about 40 minutes in the visitor center looking around and standing in a line, which took forever, we headed back to the car. I was dreading the ride back down. I put the car in low gear, and I knew better enough to ride the brakes the whole time, but there are signs posted for those that don't know that. It was still a little scary driving down, but it wasn't as bad as I thought, and I actually enjoyed the view a lot more, maybe because I knew what to expect.
When we got back home, my family presented me with a certificate that I made it to the summit for driving up there. In a way I am glad we couldn't take the train and I drove up. I have been very curious about driving some of these mountains after driving through Rocky Mountain NP a few times. Next up is driving up Mt. Evans, which is the highest paved road in North America.