I love traveling and seeing new parts of the country – from the flat prairies of Kansas or the rolling hills of Kentucky to the mountains of the Rockies in Colorado. But I have to admit that I have very strong feelings when it comes to getting to the top of the tall mountains. On our recent road trip to Colorado we were all in awe as got closer to Pikes Peak outside Colorado Springs. We wanted to get as close as possible to America’s Mountain, but I was terrified to actually drive to the peak. If you are ready to get up close to Pikes Peak without driving the entire 19 miles, I’ve got you covered!
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Pikes Peak View for the “Wussy Girl”
When we enter a new state, we always stop at the Visitors Center at the state line. One of the ladies working at the Visitors center engaged us in a conversation and asked us our travel plans. We told her that we were planning to stay at the Glen Eyrie Castle and take a drive through Garden of the Gods but we weren’t going to drive to the top of Pikes Peak because 1) we didn’t have time and, 2) I was terrified to drive to the top.
She promptly told us that we absolutely must include Pikes Peak in our itinerary. This lady had the most engaging personality and laughed and said I was just a ‘wussy girl’. This phrase became our family’s name for me every time we got close to a mountain and I got nervous.
We decided we had to visit Pikes Peak but I needed a way to see it without going to the very top.
Because of construction being done on the parking lots toward the top of Pikes Peak, there is a free shuttle service at various spots. Read here for more details.
Pikes Peak is one of 54 “fourteeners” (mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet) in Colorado but is one of the most accessible mountains to the common traveler. Anyone with a safe vehicle who pays the park admission fee can drive up and enjoy the view from the top. We had the safe vehicle and were willing to pay the nominal admission fee but I was missing the nerve. There’s just something about clinging to the side of a mountain where you can look out the passenger window and look out almost 3 miles to the bottom that brings me to tears.
Instead of driving to the top, we opted to go as far as Crystal Creek Reservoir. This option gives you the modified version of the experience but still gives you an amazing view. When you arrive at the park entrance, you just tell them that you want to go to Crystal Creek Reservoir. You will pay $5 per adult instead of the full price if you are planning to drive to the summit.
The drive to Crystal Creek Reservoir is 6 miles and is fairly steep and narrow but not as tight as it is the farther you get up the mountain. Just take it slow and careful. There are several overlooks along the drive where you can stop and enjoy the overlook.
On the way down, stop and enjoy the overlook at Ute Pass. If you look closely, you can even see a glimpse of Santa’s North Pole amusement park at the bottom of the mountain.
Tip: Pack a pair of binoculars so you can enjoy the overlooks and look for wildlife on your trip!
Follow up on the “Wussy Girl”
When we left the Visitors Center, the lady gave us her contact information and told me she wanted to see a picture when we got to Pikes Peak! So I sent her this image of our family at Crystal Creek Reservoir. Her response was great: “Sharon, I am very proud of you! You did good!!! You rock girl!”
It’s people like this that make a trip even more memorable!
Crystal Creek Reservoir: To perform dam maintenance and repair work, Colorado Springs Utilities is currently lowering the water level at Crystal Creek Reservoir on the north slope of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain (PPAM). The complete dam surface, including the foundation structures, must be exposed to ensure safety and make upgrades to meet modern-day standards of the dam, which was built in 1935. The draw-down of water is expected to continue through mid-summer of 2019.www.coloradosprings.gov
If you are planning to visit Colorado Springs but are nervous about driving to the top of Pikes Peak, at least to go Crystal Creek Reservoir! You’ll be glad you did!
Looking for lodging while you are in Colorado Springs? Check out GlenView Lodge at Glen Eyrie!