On July 10th my mom brought the boys to Colorado for us. They were staying in West Virginia so they wouldn’t have to endure the pain of the four-day westward drive.
I think they would have been okay on the long drive, but only because they would have been immersed in DVDs and their Nintendo DSs.
The trips up and down the mountain are each about 90 minutes, give or take depending on the time spent at the switches so the upward and downward trains can pass each other.
The scenery is absolutely stunning and Jennifer did a great job discussing the trees, flowers, geologic features, and animals we would see on the train.
Some notes about the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway:
- Plan early for this trip. During the summer months you can’t simply drive to the railroad and hop on board. You needed to book at least week in advance.
- During the summer you can expect up to 8 trains per day, but in the winter there are as few as two trains per day. Plan accordingly.
- Plan $35 per person for adults, $19 per person for children ages 3-12. Assorted discounts are available. If you book online there’s a $1-per-ticket reservation charge.
- Check here for coupons! The coupons vary constantly and usually are for the earliest and latest trains of the day…
- Get the parking pass ahead of time. This is an option at ticket purchase time. If you forgo the parking pass, unless you take the Manitou Springs shuttle bus up to the depot, parking will run you about $5 no matter what. Just add it to the ticket purchase.
- There is no food service on the train, but there is a little food stand where you can buy snacks at the depot. It’s VERY expensive, I highly recommend getting your snacks ahead of time.
- You can eat on the train, but the tour guide will ask that you not eat popcorn on board (which is sold at the Summit House)…mice are attracted to the dropped popcorn.
- Bring jackets! Even in mid-July temperatures were around 50F at the summit at noon.
- There are no bathrooms on the trains. PLEASE make sure you go potty before the trip, and make sure you go at the Summit House just before the descent. The train ride is 90 minutes in each direction.
- One way tickets are (sometimes) available for hikers who want to ascend via the Barr Trail, but don’t feel like descending. During peak months, hikers might have to buy a round trip tickets. On our trip, there were several empty seats around us on the ascent that were filled by hikers on the descent.
- All ages are welcome on the Cog Railway. It’s wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
- Are you worried about how well you’ll do at altitude? If you are visiting from out of town, you WILL feel the altitude impacts — it will likely make you tired. Here are some tips about altitude acclimatization.
Enjoy some pictures of what we encountered. I did my best to explain them in the captions.
Okay, I will stop the photo show for now so I can discuss the doughnuts. You’re supposed to try the doughnuts that are cooked up at the top. For those unaware, baking is tricky at high altitudes because there isn’t as much atmosphere to support the rising processes, whether it’s with yeast or with chemical leavenings.
But these doughnuts weren’t bad. About as dense as a “cake” donut. They are about $1 each.
There are other snacks and beverages (such as coffee and cocoa) at the summit. As well as a substantial gift shop.
After the time at the summit, it was time to board the train for the trip down. It’s just as slow and deliberate as the trip up, to keep from losing control on the way down I guess.