On Saturday May 7, we left Loveland at 9:30 with Acey’s mileage at 83,549.8, Thor’s 102,435 and we have put 1,974.5 miles on our bicycles. It was bright and sunny as we left; we went to Fort Collins to fuel up Acey at Costco – the best price on diesel at $4.999/gallon – most other places were $5.259 and up! (And using the Costco Citi credit card, we get a 4% rebate, plus 2% back from Costco) We can use a card from TSD Logistics that allows us to buy diesel at wholesale prices at some truck stops (much less than the “pump” price), but even with that discount, Costco was a better deal. When we only get about 7mpg, it definitely is worth going 20 miles out of our way to get the better price, especially since we wanted to fill up, we got 70.14 gallons! (That got us to 3/4 full; the tank holds 125 gallons) The drive was quite scenic- about 11:30, we got our first glimpse of Pikes Peak!
We drove past Castle Rock
Another peek at Pikes Peak
We arrived at Goldfield RV Park at 12:30 and got set up. This place really is more of a parking lot, but we have full hookups and cable TV – and it’s convenient to Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods – both are places we want to visit during our 3-night stay in Colorado Springs.
We made lunch and then watched a bit of the hockey game – our Predators are in the playoffs and the first game against the Colorado Avalanche was on. The Avs were taking a good lead, so we thought perhaps it was time to go to the Garden of the Gods. This is a place Linda visited when her family took the awesome travel trailer trip in 1962 which is documented in the blog – back in May 2020 – Linda’s Mom noted in her diary that “the kids climbed up the red rock mt. and Linda slid down on her seat – no seat left and one less outfit to wash!” Incredible rock formations here; our first glimpse:
We stopped at the visitor center and got a map – it would take HOURS to walk the whole area!
The white rock was unusual since so much rock here is reddish.
Balanced Rock is an image Linda remembers from home movies – quite a large rock!
After an hour and a half, we had to leave – we were to meet one of Linda’s Facebook friends for dinner – at a brewery of all places! Darlene had come to Nashville a few years ago to see her Avs play the Preds. We didn’t get a photo of the whole group – oh well!
The Colorado Mountain Brewery is located in a building that used to be a roundhouse for the trains that ran here!
Nice that they kept the arched entries where the trains went in and out.
After dinner, we looked into getting tickets for the cog train that runs up Pikes Peak. We decided to go on Sunday and were able to get on the 9:20 train in the morning. That meant we would be skipping Sunday School and church which doesn’t happen often.
Sunday was a beautiful clear day and not too windy when we left the RV park. The depot building was pretty – with daffodils on bloom!
When we got to the station, and it was about 57F – quite a bit colder at the peak!
The concept of a train to the top of Pikes Peak was inspired by Zalmon Simmons, inventor and founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. He had taken a two-day trip by mule to reach the summit and thought there HAD to be a better way! The first trains to take passengers to the peak in 1891 used steam locomotives produced by Baldwin Locomotive works. In the late 1930s, gasoline and diesel-powered locomotives were introduced. You can read more of the history here!
We soon spotted our train. Note the 3rd rail in the center with the gear-like rack rail.
Our train had 3 passenger cars and the engine in the back, pushing us on an 8.9 mile trek up the mountain to the summit 8,000 feet higher than the depot.
On the way up, our conductor pointed out several points of interest and told some interesting history of the cog railway.
One of the waterfalls he said was higher than Niagara Falls – well elevation-wise it IS higher, just nowhere near as tall!
Some of our ride was actually flat! It was pointed out that Aspen trees share the same root system – another new fact for the day!
Getting closer to our destination!
Above the treeline as we approached Windy Point.
This building at Windy Point was a home for folks working on the railway but is not in use today – and it DID get windy as we passed by here!
At a few places there are 2 sets of tracks, allowing trains to pass by each other.
We reached the top and got off the train – lots of snow here at the summit!
Remains of the first summit house – constructed 1871.
It was VERY cold and windy at the summit, and we had less than 45 minutes there – we may drive up next time to see more of what is up there!
The new Summit house – it may have expanded since we were here with our sons in 1999 – having no access to our photos, we are not sure!
No restrooms on the train – so we stopped in the visitor center first! There was too much info inside to read it all in our short time at the top. Interesting info on this display:
We went back outside to take in the view – oh it was COLD and windy!! And the oxygen was 60% compared to sea level.
You can see some of the road to the summit in this photo.
We were glad to come back inside where it was warm!
Quite a picture window!
Soon it was time to get back in the train. The snow was shoveled away from the door at the visitor center.
On the way down, we sat on the other side of the train to try to see what we missed on the way up. The train does not turn around and we were on the “wrong side” to take photos of some of the views on the way up.
Colorado Springs Municipal Plant #3 – a hydroelectric power plant
The caretaker’s home for the plant – with a 60-mile driveway to the city!
After a three-hour tour, we were back at the station – it was a fun Mother’s Day trip!
Linda’s family visited Pikes Peak on their trip west in 1962 – and the story goes that her dad drove up Pikes Peak pulling the 14-foot trailer. No photos and no note of that in her mother’s diary – but it wouldn’t surprise us if that were true!
Driving up would give you more time to see what’s at the summit – 40-45 minutes is not really long enough. We returned to Acey for lunch and thought we would drive to nearby Helen Hunt Falls. (Named after poet, writer, and activist for Native American Rights Helen Maria Hunt Jackson who lived in the 1800s) The road had a few switchbacks and was quite narrow – but what a view!
As we drove up further, the narrow road had a warning sign that the road was in disrepair – we decided IF the road was worse to continue than what we had already driven, we should turn around! So, we drove back down and went to walk around Old Colorado City, and wouldn’t you know, we found the OCC Brewery! We each had a pint and headed home again.
Monday after breakfast, we relaxed a bit then went out, stopping by AAA to get some maps of Western Canada and Alaska and went to Costco to get a few things. It had been very windy overnight, and it was hard to see Pikes Peak today – good thing we went yesterday when it was clear and beautiful!
It was a rather warm day, and perhaps we should have headed out earlier After lunch, we tried to decide what to do on our last day in Colorado Springs! We saw some of the Garden of the Gods but had not been to the Red Rock Canyon Open Space – so we went to check it out. (Website link) We tried riding our bikes, but Linda pooped out – too much uphill on the sandy path, it was warm out and the high altitude…) so we went for a short hike instead.
Lots of red rock here!
There’s Pikes Peak!
We climbed up pretty high and could see Garden of the Gods on the horizon! Such unusual rock formations in this area.
We hiked about 3 miles – a beautiful place to visit on a warm day. We headed back to Acey and got ready to move on to Raton, New Mexico in the morning.