Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pikes Peak, CO

  • Published 2023/03/17

Colorado is home to many tall mountains.

One of them is Pikes Peak, west of Colorado Springs, proudly standing at 14,115 feet.

It’s also one of the most visited summits in the range.

The highest summit of the Pikes Peak region gives the most breathtaking views of the magnificent world below.

While it’s easier to reach the top now, it wasn’t true in the past.

It took people 14 years after discovering the mountain in 1820 to reach its summit.

Similar to the top, there are also several attractions near the foot of the mountain.

You can find various attractions in the Pikes Peak region, from scenic gardens and nature spots to amusement parks, museums, and galleries.

Here are the best things to do in Pines Peak, CO:

Try the Donuts at Pikes Peak Visitor Center

Donuts a cups of coffee in Pikes Peak Visitor Center

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Have you ever tried donuts made 14,000 feet off the ground?

The newly renovated Pikes Peak Visitor Center brings delectable world-famous donuts into its mix of facilities.

After a long road to the peak of the mountain, guests can enjoy this luxurious yet laidback center for a restful break.

Exterior view of Pikes Peak Visitor Center

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Experience superb views of the summit in style and comfort because this visitor center offers guests an outdoor dining terrace, free Wi-Fi, and water refill stations.

You can also learn more about the area with their new interpretive exhibits about the history of Pikes Peak.

Cafeteria at Pikes Peak Visitor Center

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Hike up Barr Trail

Hikers along the Barr Trail

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This trail is infamous as one of the most challenging in Pikes Peak.

If you’re up for the challenge, remember that this advanced trail is elevated and stretches for 12 miles before ending at the summit of Pikes Peak.

However, you’ll see endless views of the forests, rock formations, and summit scenery that you won’t get anywhere else.

Warning sign of Barr Trail about weather conditions

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There are also options for overnight camping if you can’t make the entire trail in one day.

The trail starts from Manitou Springs and ends right at the top of Pikes Peak Mountain.

Don’t forget your water!

City view from Barr Trail

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Drive along Pikes Peak Highway

Scenic view of Pikes Peak Highway

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Pikes Peak Highway is an excellent reason why the journey is as important as the destination.

Built in 1915, this 19-mile highway is another route to reach the top of the Pike Peak mountains.

It’s faster than hiking the road; you’ll need to negotiate curves and twisting roads.

The road of Pikes Peak Highway

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Drive along this highway and enjoy scenic views of lakes, surrounding mountains, and possible wildlife.

Since 1916, this place has become a popular racing spot for the annual automobile and motorcycle race, the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.

For an easier, more convenient route towards Pikes Peak, try this highway which starts at Cascade, near the western side of Colorado Springs.

Hairpin curve of Pikes Peak Highway

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Spend the Night at the Broadmoor

Welcome sign and exterior of Broadmoor Hotel

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Experience the stunning sights of the Pikes Peak region in luxury with the Broadmoor Hotel.

This hotel has won several prestigious awards from Forbes Magazine and the AAA Five Diamond appraisal system.

Interior of Broadmoor Hotel

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Built in 1881, this destination used to be a small-town casino before it upgraded into a luxurious premium attraction.

Check out the views of Pikes Peak from below.

If you want to experience the mountain’s splendor, head towards Lake Avenue to find this upscale hotel.

A swimming pool at Broadmoor Hotel

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Explore Pike National Forest

Welcome sign of Pike National Forest

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Along the foot of Pike Peaks Mountain lies this treasured national forest.

Named after the esteemed explorer Zebulon Pike, this national forest has an incredible length, spanning over 1 million acres.

Calm waters of crystal reservoir at Pike National Forest

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Unfortunately, the forest often has a dry climate, making it highly vulnerable to forest fires.

Still, it’s home to beautiful dense trees, natural landscapes, and precious animal wildlife.

The Pike National Forest is a great place for those who love the wilderness.

Winter at Pike National Forest

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Visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Exterior of Manitou Cliff Dwellings

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You can find the Manitou Cliff Dwellings along Pikes Peak, near Cliff Road.

Built in 1907, the dwellings are impressive architectural replicas of the homes of Pueblo Indians.

The dwellings are primarily sandstone masonry mined from one of their ancestral villages.

The view looking out the Manitou Cliff Dwellings

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Besides the cave, the place also features old artifacts and replicas relevant to the ancient Pueblo Indians.

Some examples are potteries, weapons, and tools to give travelers a peek into the lives of the Pueblos.

Exhibit inside the Manitou Cliff Dwellings

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Enjoy the North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop

Little elf sculpture holding up a sign at North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop

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It’s always Christmas in the North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop!

In 1956, this amusement park sprang forth from a young girl’s imagination, which helped draw up the blueprints of this Santa-themed entertainment venue.

It has all the basic rides of amusement parks, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars, free-falling recreation, and more.

Aerial view of North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop rides

Avrand6, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The unique Christmas theme makes the colorful rides even more entertaining!

Another benefit is its location at the base of Pikes Peak Mountain.

You’ll always have access to its incredible views, especially when you go on high rides.

Feel the Christmas spirit year-round along Pikes Peak Highway, where you’ll find this amusement park.

Dinosaur sculpture wearing a santa hat at North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop

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Enter the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Scenic view from Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

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Cave of the Winds is located within the Pikes Peak region, close to US Highway 24 and Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

It’s an opportunity to explore the inside of an actual cave, built naturally through millions of years and discovered only in 1881.

The park provides a casual exploration trip through well-lit areas or a spooky adventure with dark tunnels lit only with candlelight, narrow passageways, and muddy grounds.

Mountain views from Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

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Both are exciting tours and will give you a detailed look into the inside of a cave, some insight into its history, and old folklore tales about the cave.

IIt’snot every day that you get a chance to explore a cave!

Take the risk, and don’t miss out on Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.

Relax at Crystal Creek Reservoir

Trees and mountains reflecting on Crystal Creek Reservoir

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You’ll find the Crystal Creek Reservoir on the northern slopes of Pikes Peak.

It’s a clear, beautiful lake, perfect for simple water recreation like fishing and boating.

In 1935, officials dammed the waters as a backup water supply to residents, similar to Colorado Springs.

Closeup of Crystal Creek Reservoir's water

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In 1992, they included this area in the North Slope Recreation Area, which let visitors into the site and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere.

This place is a great place to relax, with calm, stable waters and dense, green forests surrounding you.

It’s also home to some animals, particularly birds, deer, bears, and bighorn sheep.

Drop by the Crystal Creek Reservoir for a calming pit stop before heading to the summit of Pikes Peak.

Fishing at Crystal Creek Reservoir

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Enter the Miramont Castle Museum

Exterior of Miramont Castle Museum

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Feel like royalty as you sip hot tea in dainty teacup sets inside this luxurious castle.

They built this Victorian-themed home in 1895 with over 30 stunning rooms to explore.

Its indoor furnishings are also a sight to behold, inspired by nine different architectural styles.

Check out the Queen Anne, Romanesque, English Tudor, Elizabethan, Venetian-style, Byzantine styles, and more.

Browse artifacts, paintings, and old memorabilia to return to the past.

You can also book a tour for a more comprehensive, detailed understanding of the castle and its history.

Visit the Miramont Castle Museum and peek inside this stunning, traditional castle.

Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Scenic view of Pikes Peak Cog Railway

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The Pikes Peak Cog Railway ride has a subtle, mysterious charm.

The simple red train brings you along a 3-hour ride on nine miles of railway to reach the summit of Pikes Peak.

You get stunning unobstructed views of nature on your journey.

People waiting in line to ride the train of Pikes Peak Cog Railway

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View the Ruxton Creek, Minnehaha Falls, Deer Park, and surrounding mountains before you get a peek at the famous summit.

It’s also a safe, convenient way to reach the top without hiking elevated terrains.

Ride the red train and enjoy the laid-back journey.

Mountain views beside Pikes Peak Cog Railway

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Visit the Green Horse Gallery

The Pikes Peak region is also home to a cultural art destination, the Green Horse Gallery.

Situated along Manitou Avenue, this art gallery features the talent and craftsmanship of people from the community.

This place is perfect for getting a feel for the local community’s culture and traditions since the locals create and sell artworks.

Their local collection also has good diversity, ranging from paintings, pots, sculptures, and quirky prints.

They have an assortment of expensive fine arts, but there are also affordable products if you want a quick souvenir.

Each of the items in the gallery comes from a local, with a unique trait that separates it from reprinted commercial artworks.

Enjoy Wines of Colorado’s Delightful Food and Wine Selections

Treat yourself to sumptuous fares paired with wines and craft brews at Wines of Colorado.

Located on Cascade’s West Highway 24, the restaurant features stunning creekside views on the patio.

Couple Dawn and Arin DeMay opened this restaurant in 2021 offering tasty lunch and dinner options to satisfy any hungry eater.

You’ll enjoy eclectic Colorado-style dishes on the menu along with a wide variety of wine, craft beer, and spirits.

Stir your appetite with some delicious starters like Pikes Peak Meatballs, Wine Lovers Charcuterie, or Crispy Duck.

For some hearty soups and salads, try the House-made Soup of the Day, Marv’s Buffalo Chili, Cascade Salad, and Salmon Salad.

Craving for burgers? Their award-winning Buffalo Burger is a must-try, along with the Famous Wine Burger and Zebulon Pike Burger.

Other items you can order include pasta, house favorites, and kids’ menu; and of course, a dessert is always the best way to wrap up any meal.

Get a drink of your choice from the list of White, Red, and Blush Wines, along with Fruit Wines, Meads, and Canned Wines to tickle your palate.

They also have assorted craft beers, seasonal beers, and ciders, along with hard drinks like whiskey, tequila, amaretto, vodka, gin, rum, and specialty liquor.

Wines of Colorado also serves unique Colorado Cocktails.

Tour the Mineral Springs around Manitou

Natural rock formation at Manitou Springs

James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manitou Springs is composed of eight mineral springs located around the area and sourced from a deep underground system of aquifers.

You can take a self-guided tour to locate these springs, and you’ll discover that water from each spring has its own distinct taste.

Make a stop at Shoshone Spring known to have the highest levels of minerals; water from this natural spring was recommended by physicians during the 1800s for its curative properties.

The Stratton Spring was drilled by the Stratton Foundation to serve the town during the Depression; another one you can visit is the Wheeler Spring, donated by the family of Jerome Wheeler, the former president of the Manitou Mineral Bottling Company.

Drop by Cheyenne Spring and see the 1893 Manitou Spa Building surrounding the spring, along with the bronze font made by sculptor Paul Rogers that now pipes the spring.

Taste the sweet waters of the Twin Spring, famous for making Manitou Lemonade and Manitou Mojitos, then compare it with the iron-rich waters at the Iron Spring Geyser.

You’ll find the Navajo Spring at the back of Patsy’s Candies Store, which also became the spring’s sampling room, and check out the 7-Minute Spring which was known to erupt every 7 minutes due to its carbonation.

Visit and discover the facts and wonders of Manitou Springs.

Catch the Annual Pikes Peak Marathon

Two men trainning for Pikes Peak Marathon

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If you’re fit enough to take the challenge,you cansign up for thePikes Peak Marathon.

This popular annual race event is the oldest running marathon in the country held every third week of September.

It was founded in 1956 taking marathoners to a 26.2-mountain mile stretch from Manitou Springs to Pike Peaks’ summit and then back.

Its twin race, the Pikes Peak Ascent used to be held on the same day as the marathon but became a separate event in 1980.

The event starts with a Kickoff celebration and the race formally beginning early morning the next day at the Manitou Springs City Hall.

You can also watch the race and cheer on the side or join the fun attractions during race week.

Catch the Race Expo and get exclusive merchandise or drop by the vendors for some great buys.

There’s also live music and a beer garden to enjoy some ice-cold beers.

Join the excitement at Pikes Peak Marathon.

Have an Enjoyable Stay at the Green Mountain Falls Lodge

If you’re looking for relaxing accommodation with a scenic view, Green Mountain Falls Lodge is one of the best hotels to book.

The lodge is located at Ute Pass Avenue at the base of the town of Green Mountain Falls, with an elevation of more than 7,000 feet.

Originally named the Columbine Hotel, the lodge has been around since 1910.

It underwent several renovations and opened again in 2012 to welcome guests with its new features and upgraded amenities.

Choose from any of their cozy studio rooms like the Queen Studio, Den Queen, Chef Corner, King Studio, Hot Tub Studio, and Charming Studio.

The Mountain View Penthouse, Mountain Retreat, and Jacuzzi Suite are just perfect for your family vacation.

You’ll wake up to a majestic view of mountain ranges and lush forests surrounding the lodge.

You can also drop by the nearby park, play tennis and basketball on the courts, or take a stroll by the stream across the lodge.

Green Mountain Falls Lodge also provides a lovely setting for important events like weddings and gatherings.

Enjoy Tasty Mexican Fare at The Loop

Go for all-Mexican flavors atThe Loop!

This food stop is located on Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs and has become one of Colorado’s popular restaurants, famous not only for the largest margarita in the world but for its award-winning margarita, service, food and ambiance.

Have yummy appetizers to try from White Queso, Mini Chimis, and Baja Buzzard Fingers to Quesadillas.

You’ll enjoy bites of mouthwatering servings of Molcajete, Pollo Herron, Carnitas and more.

Try the Shrimp Tacos or Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos or have a Fajita Wrap and Burrito Panini.

If you want to have a combination of flavors, order the combo plates; likewise, kids’ meals and veggie options are available on the menu.

Check out their Food Specials for some unique dishes you can try, too.

Ready for dessert? Order a Sopapillas or Fried Ice Cream.

And of course, you can’t miss The Loop’s famous margaritas like the Blue Margarita, Patron Margarita, and Strawberry Margarita, along with other cocktail selections like the Fruitloop, Pomegranate Martini, Colorado Bulldog, and Mexican Mule.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Roam the Garden of the Gods

Daytime view of the beautiful Garden of the Gods

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Garden of the Gods is an impressive natural landscape with towering, red rocks reaching up to 6400 feet.

Find it in the nearby Colorado Springs, 15 minutes away from Pikes Peak.

It got its name in 1859 because its founders, Melancthon Beach and Rufus Cable, believed the rock formations fit a pantheon of gods.

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Another notable feature of this landscape is the evidence of a dinosaur unearthed there.

The best time to visit this place is at sunset when the orange skies meld with the redness of the rocks.

Horseback tour at Garden of the Gods

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People also frequently try active ventures in the area like tours, horseback riding, hiking, and rock climbing.

The place is completely free to visit, so don’t miss out on this gorgeous natural landscape!

A rock formation at Garden of the Gods

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Join a Jeep Tour with Adventures Out West

Book a tour with this agency for an unforgettable time around Pikes Peak’s most scenic spots!

Established in 1973, Adventures Out West offers travelers exciting tours on their 4 x 4 jeeps.

Don’t worry about getting to the best places in Pikes Peak.

The agency will handle it for you through its professionally trained tour guides.

All you have to do is enjoy the scenery and take some pictures of the gorgeous views.

Find them at Colorado Springs.

Explore the Ghost Town Museum

A popular attraction in the Pikes Peak region is the Ghost Town Museum.

It has the vibes of an old Wild West movie.

Wood is the prime furniture material, both outside and inside the museum.

Some of the items in the museum are original artifacts preserved and taken from around the Pikes Peak region.

They also have interactive, immersive activities like butter-churning, shooting games, and gold panning.

Travel back in time to the Wild West in the Ghost Town Museum.

Final Thoughts

A visit to the Pikes Peak region is incomplete without reaching the gorgeous mountain summit.

This place is truly a gem for scenic natural landscapes with its impressive rock formations, forests, cave dwellings, and water reservoirs.

The region still has a fine collection of artificial destinations like museums, art galleries, and an amusement park.

Add the Pikes Peak region in Colorado state to your bucket lists.

Its breathtaking sights and destinations will give you memories for a lifetime.

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