Pikes Peak Railway

By Lynn Rosen, Photos courtesy of Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Colorado’s Pikes Peak Cog Railway climbs up to the 14,115 foot summit.

Ever have a dream/goal to climb every mountain?  Well, there is only one 14 thousand-plus-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to physically climb. You can take the train. A unique train. A cog train. The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railway, reaches the summit at the height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to “America The Beautiful” were composed by Katherine Lee Bates, whose experience in 1893 on top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak moved her to write one of America’s most iconic songs.

Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor Hotel since 1925, the recently rebuilt Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of only two historic cog railways in the U.S. (The other is the Mount Washington Cog Railway in Coos County, New Hampshire.)

  Pikes Peak Railway with snow   Pikes Peak Railway snow view  
The Pikes Peak Cog Railways runs every day. Views are spectacular in every season,
but especially on clear, crisp, clear days.

The ride takes you from Colorado’s Manitou Springs Depot nine miles up to the summit of Pikes Peak through Pike National Forest, along Ruxton Creek, by Diamond Rock, within the steep, rocky walls of Englemann Canyon, past stacked boulder formations, a striking waterfall, and through Deer Park. Visitors may also see elk, deer, and yellow-bellied marmot en route. Pikes Peak is also home to one of Colorado’s largest bighorn sheep herds.

Passengers move up Son of a Gun Hill, through the Icebox, a cool shaded canyon, past the remains of Halfway House Hotel, and eventually rise above timberline, where the views get more expansive. With each turn or climb, an on-board guide shares the stories of historical points and significant people who shaped the region along the way. Visitors also have the option of riding the cog train to the summit and hiking or biking down or making the journey in reverse by biking or hiking up and riding the train down.

  Pikes Peak Railway summit visitor center   Pikes Peak Railway visitor center  
From the 14,115 foot Summit Visitor Center, on a clear day, views are unobstructed
all the way to Denver.
Indoor interpretive exhibits offer fascinating tidbits particular to the mountain and
its history.

At the top of the cog railway ride to the Pikes Peak summit, the Visitor Center offers refreshments, comfort amenities, a gift shop, free wi-fi, an interpretive space, and unobstructed panoramic views. There is also an ADA walkway with interpretive guidance about the views, historic sites, and key focal points across the peak. Indoor and outdoor interpretive exhibits tell the story of the mountain’s history, climate and geography, recreational opportunities, conservation initiatives, and so much more. On some clear days Denver might even be visible.

Pikes Peak railway donut
THE world-famous must-have” donuts at the Summit Visitor Center.
Eat them at altitude.

A ‘must-have’ at the Summit Visitor Center are the world-famous delicious donuts, the only donuts made above 14,000 feet. But if they are saved after leaving the summit and descending to the depot, they will definitely lose their altitude-induced pooofffff. BTW - at 1,500 pounds, the donut-making machine was so large that it had be brought in before the doors of the building were even framed.

The railway runs every day. For more information and reservations, hop onboard at https://www.cograilway.com/ To make direct arrangements to ride the railway, buy tickets in advance online at https://www.cograilway.com/ride/purchase-tickets/ Adults: $58.50 - $71.00; children 12 & under: $48.50 - $61.00. For special Engineer’s View tickets where you can sit up front with the engineer, check the website for availability and pricing. NOTE: These popular tickets frequently sell out.

About the Author

  Lynn Rosen is an Emmy award-winning TV broadcaster, producer and director, and has been on the Journalism and Theatre faculties at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. She’s also a theater critic, travel writer, published author, fearless skier and belongs to the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).   Lynn Rosen