Rocky Mountain High – Pike’s Peak Cog Railway

In the final hours of our sibling bachelor party weekend for my younger brother we found ourselves in the Manitou Springs area of Colorado after driving through Garden of the Gods National Park.  We attempted to drive up Pike’s Peak and were stopped at the main gate due to snow.  We decided to see if the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway was running and by golly it was.

Pike’s Peak boasts one of the oldest and highest “cog railways” in the United States.  (They are, it seems, jealous of New Hampshire’s cog train.) Riders can buy a relatively expensive ticket ($37) at the depot whilst enjoying some delicious roasted nuts and hot chocolate.  (I say hot chocolate because the coffee was terrible and cold. Boo.)

Big Horn Sheep, Yellow Bellied Marmots, Deer, Elk, and Bears live on Pike’s Peak and can be seen on the ride unless it is snowing!  As an alternative riders can relax and watch the beautiful rocky scenery go by as they are climbing/chugging/cogging up to 14,115 feet above sea level.  One will see gorgeous pine trees, waterfalls, aspen trees, and eventually a blank wild land too high to sustain much vegetation.  (I was slightly worried when I read the sign that said not to ride the train if you were pregnant, prone to heart disease, had difficulty breathing, etc etc etc.  I was worried I might not do well in the altitude but I felt great the entire time.)

The ride was about three hours with a thirty minute stop along the way.  Bring your jacket, gloves, and hat because the train is not heated and many of the passengers choose to open the windows for better photo taking.  Please remember to be a kind human and shut said window if your seat mates are getting hammered by the snow coming in through your window.  (Thank you!)

Have you ever taken an interesting train ride anywhere?  Have you ever ridden a cog train?


Pike’s Peak Cog Train Depot


Map in the depot


“All aboard!”


Tickets, hot chocolate, and a window seat!


Ever wondered what a cog looks like in the snow?


We are climbing!


A view from hanging out the window in the snow.



Just your friendly snow plow at aprox 9,000 feet elevation.  PacMan is going to eat that snow for dinner.


Still climbing


Snowing and cold but we were able to de-train (is that a word?) and walk around before heading back down the mountain.


Cold Feet

To read more about my Rocky Mountain adventures click here…

Rocky Mountain High – Garden of the Gods National Park

On our last day in Denver we attempted to head to Vail.  I have always had grand visions of Vail being the Cannes or the Paris of Colorado.  Since it hadn’t rained in recent memory here in California we thought it would be fun to visit the snow.  We managed to get about fifteen minutes outside of Denver before it started to snow pretty hard.  We knew we would never make it to Vail and back, in the snow, by the time we needed to catch our flight.  Alas, Vail will remain a mystery to me still.  We re-routed our drive south to the Garden of the Gods National Park near Colorado Springs.

The park was lovely.  It is reasonably small and reasonably free.  😉  One can start their visit at a wonderful little visitor’s center with a lovely gift shop and café.  The rain was coming down in buckets which made photography difficult.  But, my brothers were good sports stopping the car at every pullout and helping me keep my camera dry.  My socks were wet but my excitement was high.

Since it is still the off season there were very few tourists in the park which made it even better.  Better to take photos and view the sites.  better to make erratic movements to pull the vehicle over because your sister is pointing and yelling “Stop!”

Have you been to any great National Parks in Colorado?  What about Utah?  (I see a lot of resemblances here between the rock/geology in Utah and Colorado…)

For more about Garden of the Gods


One of the first views when entering the park on Juniper loop from the visitor’s center.


After a soggy walk I viewed some beautiful “fins”.


Balanced rock.  Interesting how our country allows for a road right through the middle of a natural wonder.


I wasn’t kidding about the rain.

To read about my other Rocky Mountain Adventures click here…