NOTE: The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, near Colorado Springs recently announced that it is going to be closed for the remainder of 2018. This time will be taken to make necessary modifications and replacements to the trains to deal with wear and tear and provide a better visitor experience. Be sure to keep posted for future updates on when it is going to come back open, as well as other activities in the Colorado Springs area.

There’s something about the railroads that just seem authentically American. Perhaps it’s the way that railroads opened up a lot of the country for the first time, including the Colorado Springs area. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway offers the chance for visitors to head up to the top of Pikes Peak on the highest cog railway on earth.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway dates back to the late 1880s, where inventor and mattress magnate Zalmon Simmons reached the top of Pikes Peak by mule. The process took him two days, and while the view was well worth it, he felt that there had to be a better way for more people to see what he had. This was the beginning of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which officially opened up in 1891, and has been taking people to the top of Pikes Peak ever since.

Overall, the entire ride takes 3 hours and 10 minutes for a round trip, and covers 8.9 miles of track. There are quite a few exciting sights you can take in at all legs of the trip, not just at the peak. The first part of the train ride will take you along Ruxton Creek, where you can see both the powerful stream as well as some trees that date back as far as 2000 years.  At the middle part of the trip, you can see the natural landform known as “Hell’s Gate” which serves as a natural gateway into the mountain areas. It’s at this point that you can see Pikes Peak for the first time.

When you break past the timberline, the views truly begin to get impressive. You can see beyond the Kansas border onto the Great Plains, as well as the Sangre De Christo mountain range which stretches down to New Mexico. In addition, the Pikes Peak area is home to one of the largest herds of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the country.

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