The highest train ride in the United States travels through forests and past wildlife on its way to the summit of Pikes Peak.
Journey to the top of a mountain aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The steep climb takes you to an elevation of 14,115 feet (4,302 meters) through a mountainous scenery of forests, valleys and waterfalls.
The roundtrip to the top takes just over three hours and covers nearly 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) of track. Enjoy a scenery of spruce trees as you travel through Ruxton Creek on the first part of your trip. Pay attention to the large boulders on both sides of the track. Your conductor will point out the human-like faces that may be seen in the rock formations. See if you can spot them too.
Look out for mule deer as the train travels through Deer Park. Some of the wildlife that you may see during the last section of your journey are yellow-bellied marmots and bighorn sheep.
Note how the vegetation changes as you get close to the summit. Trees do not grow in the higher elevations because the ground is frozen all year round. The landscape here is covered with alpine mosses and a few plant species that have adapted to the cold environment.
Once you reach the top, you will have approximately 30 to 40 minutes to explore, before the train starts to make its descent. There is a café, restrooms and viewing platforms at the summit.
From here you can see four states, the Continental Divide and several cities, including Colorado Springs and Denver. Be aware that due to the altitude, some people feel lightheaded after about 30 minutes. Bring a jacket and warm clothing with you because of the low temperature and winds on the summit.
The railway operates every day during the summer and between two and five days a week during the winter. Visit the attraction’s website for the most up-to-date information. Prices vary depending on the season and children under the age of two travel for free.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is situated in Manitou Springs, about 6 miles (9.5 kilometers) from the center of Colorado Springs. There is a metered parking lot by the railway station.