It’s the vista that inspired lyrics "Purple mountains majesty." Visitors to Colorado Springs this summer who want to stand where Katherine Lee Bates penned her anthem America the Beautiful will need to board a shuttle van to the summit.
Jack Glavan, the Manager of the Pikes Peak Highway explained the shuttles are necessary because the construction of the new Summit House will take away parking spaces at the top.
"They won’t quite drive to the summit. They’ll still have the great scenic views, still have the experience," Glavan said. "In fact, we think drivers may enjoy it because they too will get to look around."
He points out that the Cog Railway will also be closed this summer, driving an even greater number of people onto the highway.
"We’re anticipating another 100,000 to 150,000 visitors. Last year we did set a record of 500,000 people through the gate," Glavan said. "But we’re expecting maybe 650,000 to 750,000 visitors through the highway"
The shuttle service is complimentary, included with the cost of the highway gate admission. There will be two parking lots to board the shuttle: one near the Hill Climb starting line at mile 7. the other is closer to the top at the Devil’s Playground area near mile 19.
"Some people just won’t feel comfortable driving those switchbacks, others would love to drive those switchbacks. we’ll try to accommodate that once we really get the feel of how the traffic is going to flow."
Visitors to the Pikes Peak Highway told us the switchbacks can be intimidating. Ryder Wehr was visiting from Indiana and said the sharp curves near the summer got a little too steep.
"We drove up to stop #19 and pretty well got scared because, well, we’ve got a big truck and didn’t want to have any accidents," said Wehr.
He thought a shuttle to the summit would be a great idea.
"That would probably be pretty cool because then anybody could go up there with big trucks, little trucks, it didn’t matter. You could get a ride and go."
"Well, I heard that, but I’m only here today," added Stephaine Ward who was visiting from Kentucky. "We’ll just be going today."
Glavan estimates that the wait time in between shuttles will be roughly 5 to 10 minutes. Travelers who will be exempt from taking the shuttle including people with mobility disabilities, families with young children in car seats, and motorcycle riders traveling in groups of less than 10.
The shuttles will run from May 31 to September 15. The City of Colorado Springs is encouraging guests to purchase their gate passes online ahead of time to avoid a long wait. They also recommend planning a visit on Pikes Peak around the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.