Interesting Facts About Pikes Peak

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Do you know any interesting facts about Pikes Peak? At 14,115′, Pikes Peak towers 8000′ above Colorado Springs and the surrounding region. Commonly called America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America.

Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image
Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image

Since Pikes Peak sits only 76 miles from the metropolis of Denver and only 11 miles from Colorado’s second largest city, Colorado Springs, it’s certainly a popular mountain for hikers, bikers, skiers, and sightseers.

Pikes Peak Quick Facts:

  • Elevation: 14,115 feet | 4302.31 meters
  • Prominence: 5,530 feet | 1686 meters
  • Isolation: 60.62 miles | 97.56 kilometers
  • Area: 11,544.8 mi² | 29,900.9 km²
  • Lat/Long: 38.840532-105.044205
  • Topo Map: Pikes Peak
  • Range: Front Range, Rocky Mountains
  • First Ascent: 1820 – Edwin James
  • Weather Forecast: Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image
Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image

Let’s look at some interesting facts about Pikes Peak:

  • Pikes Peak is the 89th most prominent peak in the US, 39th highest major peak in the US, 53rd highest peak in North America, and the 31th highest Colorado 14er.
  • Easy access to the mountain combined with a paved road and cog railway to the summit, Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America. It’s the 2nd most visited mountain in the world behind Mount Fuji.
  • The first American to see and describe Pikes Peak was explorer Zebulon Pike during the Pike Expedition. The Pike Expedition was sent to “explore, map, and find the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers” (Wikipedia.org). Pike made a failed attempt at summiting the mountain in November 1806. The mountain now bears his name.
  • Pikes Peak has been called many names. Here’s a brief look:
    • The Ute’s called the mountain “Tava” or “sun”. The Ute people believed that they were created on the mountain.
    • Arapahoe people called the mountain “Heey-otoyoo” meaning “Long Mountain”.
    • Spanish explorers called the mountain “El Capitan” meaning “The Leader”.
    • Zebulon Montgomery Pike called it the “Highest Peak” in 1806. This name soon became “Pike’s Highest Peak”.
    • Explorer Stephen Harriman Long named the mountain “James Peak” in honor of Edwin James after his 1820 ascent, but Pike’s Peak won out.
    • In 1890, The United States Board On Geographic Names officially named the mountain “Pikes Peak” – dropping the apostrophe. This name has stuck.
Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image
Pikes Peak | Pixabay Image
  • In 1820, Edwin James, a botanist on Stephen Harriman Long’s expedition, became the 1st person to climb Pikes Peak. He summited the peak in 2 days. James was also the 1st person to describe Colorado’s State Flower, the blue Columbine.
  • In 1858, Julia Archibald Holmes became the 1st woman to climb Pikes Peak.
  • Today, the most popular human-powered route to the summit is the Barr Trail. This trail approaches from the east. It is a Class 1 climb that’s 13 miles one-way. About 15,000 people try it every year. Since 1993, the Barr Trail has been the location of the Pikes Peak Marathon. The record time for going up and down the trail is 3 hours, 16 minutes, 30 seconds.
  • Perhaps the most popular routes to the summit of 14,115′ Pikes Peak is via the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or the Pikes Peak Highway.
  • The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the world’s highest cog railway.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway | Pixabay Image
Pikes Peak Cog Railway | Pixabay Image
  • The Pikes Peak Highway is open year round – conditions permitting. It travels 19 miles to the summit. The road was fully paved on October 1, 2011. Learn about the current tolls here.
  • The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the 2nd oldest motorsports race in America. It starts at 9390′ and finishes at 14,115′ while covering 12.42 miles and 156 turns up the Pikes Peak Highway. Sebastian Loeb set the record for this race in 2013 with a time of 8 minutes 13.878 seconds
  • Other races on Pikes Peak include the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb that started in 2010 and the USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships which started in 2016.
  • The slogan for the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush was “Pikes Peak Or Bust.” Pikes Peak wasn’t the source of major gold deposits at that time, but was an iconic mountain to spot on the trip west. The actual gold rush was 85 miles north of Pike’s Peak. Gold was discovered southwest of Pikes Peak in 1893 in the Cripple Creek Mining District.
  • The US Signal Service built a telegraph station on the summit to monitor weather in 1873.
  • In July 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America The Beautiful” after enjoying the view from Pikes Peak Summit. Today there is a plaque with words of the song on the summit.
  • In 1913, William Wayne Brown drove his car to the summit. It took 5 hours and 28 minutes.
  • In 1917, a World War II tank, called “Little Zeb” attempted to reach the summit, but was defeated by snow drifts.
  • On March 25, 1929 Bill Williams, of Hondo, Texas, pushed a peanut to the summit with his nose via the Pikes Peak Highway.
  • In 1949, Larry Hightower of Ellensburg, WA pushed a wheelbarrow to the summit of Pikes Peak.
  • In 1961, the upper portion of the mountain was declared a National Historic Landmark.
  • The US Army built the United States Army Pikes Peak Research Laboratory on the summit in 1969. It is a medical research facility that focuses on the “assessment of the impact of high altitude on human physiological and medical parameters of military interest” (Wikipedia.org).
  • From 1939 to 1984, Pikes Peak was home to a ski area called the Pikes Peak Ski Area.
  • In 1982, Dennis Wied of Colorado Springs summited Pikes Peak 3 times in one day going both up and down. In 1984,o n his 34th birthday, Wied summited the mountain 5 times. He gained 37,720′ in 23.5 hours, but used motorized vehicles to descent.
  • During a publicity stunt, a local piano mover pushed a 550-pound Steinway piano uphill for 7 miles on the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit.
Pikes Peak Highway | Pixabay Image
Pikes Peak Highway | Pixabay Image
  • In 2004, Crayola Crayon created a limited edition 64-color-box set including Pikes Peak Purple.
  • Hot Wheels released a Pikes Peak Celica toy car in 1998 and a Pike Peak Tacoma in 1999.
  • Pikes Peak has also been the location of multiple Bigfoot sightings.

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