Pikes Peak, standing at 14,110 feet, is Colorado's (and the United States') eastern-most 14,000 foot mountain. When compared to other '14ers' in Colorado, Pikes Peak may seem to lack the rugged beauty and awe-inspiring prominence of other notable mountains around the state. However, Pikes Peak easily stands on its own merits when it comes to some of Colorado's highest mountains. The vast size of the area surrounding El Capitan (Pikes Peak's original Spanish name) is almost unfathomable. Because the Peak stands alone, unlike most other '14ers' in Colorado, the attention it commands and the landscape it alters is unique.
Pikes Peak's eastern face, a commonly-viewed perspective, especially for those living in Colorado Springs, gives Pikes Peak an unassuming look, one that hides the ruggedness tucked away on the mountain's north side. When viewed from the north, however, Pikes Peak takes on a vastly different demeanor and you begin to understand that this is a serious mountain.
The appeal of Pikes Peak is helped by the fact that at its base, or roughly 20 miles east of Pikes Peak, is Garden of the Gods, considered by many to be the best nature park in all of America. At sunrise, as the sun's rays first breach the horizon to the east, a soft pink hue appears on the upper reaches of Pikes Peak's summit. Gradually, this hue deepens, and in a matter of minutes Pikes Peak is ablaze in rich light. Roughly 15 minutes later, sunrise reaches the famous sandstone rocks of Garden of the Gods and for a few fleeting minutes the towering walls of the Garden glow intensely red. It's a scene I play over and over in my mind and one I've seen countless times.
The Pikes Peak Highway, a completely paved, 19 mile ribbon of road, takes visitors to the very top of 'America's Mountain', weather permitting, of course. Like with most adventures, once you get off the road the real journey begins. From the Glen Cove parking lot (about half way up the mountain), serious mountaineering awaits. On the northern edge of the summit, tucked back in a bowl, is an area known as the Little Pigs and Little Italy, stunningly beautiful and rugged couloirs that beckon mountaineers and skiers year-round. On a side note, if you've ever wanted to bike down the Pikes Peak Highway, check out Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours (http://www.bikepikespeak.com)...truly an awesome and unforgettable adventure.
To have a 14,000 foot mountain right out the door is nothing short of a blessing. With only a fraction of Pikes Peak explored, there is much more discovery to be made.
Some parting shots of 'America's Mountain'.