It was a gorgeous morning in Colorado Springs. The skies were blue and cloudless. We donned our cold weather clothes and left for Pikes Peak around 8:30 AM. It was a cool 47 degrees. We were told to go early because it gets very crowded between 10 and 2. Parking is limited due to all the construction at the summit. They are building a new Summit House which will house a gift shop and restaurant to be finished early in 2021. Our plan was to drive to the Mile 7 parking lot and take the free shuttle up to the top from there. We passed the famous North Pole on our drive to the entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway.
At the entrance, we paid our fee and began the 7 mile drive to the parking lot.
We passed a sign alerting us to the Bigfoot sightings in the area.
We stopped at one of the overlooks at the North Shore Recreation Area. From there, we got a great view of the Crystal Lake Dam which we eventually drove over.
We arrived at Mile 7 parking lot and parked the Jeep. They were doing a phenomenal job of social distancing! EVERYONE wore a mask and the shuttles only carried one small group of people/families at a time. It was Bob and I in an 8 person shuttle van with the driver.
The ride up allowed me the opportunity to take pictures and it gave Bob the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery when he dared to look out the window.
The scenery was spectacular! We could see many glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains off in the distance, and the road below us.
Off in the distance, Bob saw a strip mine. He’s got great eyes!
What I missed taking a picture of on the way up, I caught on the drive down.
We were warned that they were clearing the road of a fallen tree before Mile 13. When we got there, they were just finishing up.
At Mile 13, there was another parking lot. It was almost 20 miles to the top from the bottom and you could drive the entire way yourself, but the parking at the top was limited, so they provided these other areas. Along the road above the treeline, there were no guard rails on parts of the road. That was the scary part.
At some of the switchbacks, when you couldn’t see where the road went it was a little unnerving. I got this picture of the switchbacks on the road above us by zooming in with my camera. We were very glad we had a driver. He drove very slow and cautiously which gave us many opportunities to take in the beautiful panoramas.
We finally reached the summit and checked out the gift shop. I needed a souvenir Christmas ornament to add to my collection. They limited the number of people in the gift shop and your time at the top to allow more people the opportunity to access the summit. It was 40 degrees at the top with a slight breeze. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day! We took the mandatory souvenir pictures at the Pikes Peak Summit sign and we couldn’t leave without throwing a snowball.
We rode down in the same shuttle van that brought us to the top and again we were by ourselves. It was a slow ride down to save the brakes. Back at the Mile 7 parking lot, we jumped into the Jeep for the ride back. The Mile 13 parking lot had a waiting line, but the Mile 7 parking lot was still not very full. Our drive back took us near Manitou Springs. We had never been to Manitou Springs before, so Bob suggested we stop and check it out. Manitou Springs is a quaint little town filled with many cool and unusual shops along the main street.
We parked and walked, checking out the shops. There is a lot of history and old architecture here. The Barker House built in 1872 is a very old hotel that now houses apartments.
We stopped at the Townhouse Sports Grill for some lunch of our favorite Nachos Grande.
It was delicious and some of the best we’ve ever eaten. (Many of you who have followed my blog over the years know that we always search out the best nachos.)
We continued our walk along the main street past more interesting shops.
Everyone was wearing a mask and we were reminded with signs throughout the town that COVID is still here.
Bob thought that this one was “COVID sticking its ugly head out” in Manitou Springs.
We passed 3 natural springs. I filled my water bottle with spring water from one of the fountains and —yuck! It tasted horrible due to all the minerals in it. No fountain of youth there!
We stood on the bridge over Fountain Creek as it runs through town.
We could see up the mountain where “The Incline” ran. The Incline is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, ascending the eastern flank of Pikes Peak. It gains over 2000 feet of elevation in less than 1 mile. It has 2,744 steps. The Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak. After it was finished, it was turned into a tourist attraction.
Looking through my zoom lens, I could see the steps up close.
From there, we left Manitou Springs and made one last stop at Walmart to get some groceries. Back at the campground, Auggie was waiting for us. He spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for the rabbits. We couldn’t wait to get out of our warm clothes and put on some shorts. We wanted to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous day outside with the temperature reaching 75 degrees. There was no need for dinner tonight. We were stuffed from lunch. It was the best “first day” in Colorado. Tomorrow should be another beautiful day for a walk in the Garden of the Gods or a visit to the Air Force Academy.