MANITOU SPRINGS — In our exclusive new series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
Entertaining guests since 1891, the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience that takes riders from the foothills of Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak.
It's the world's highest and longest cog railway.
"Not many 14,000 foot mountains have a railroad going up the side of it, and we're lucky enough to have one here at Pikes Peak. We're one of only two in the U.S. and about 40 in the world," Assistant General Manager Ted Johnston said.
As you may recall, the train closed down in 2017 to undergo major infrastructure improvements.
Three and a half years later, Johnston tells News 5 that they couldn't be happier to see the trains back in operation.
"It's exciting! It's a bit of a relief, everything that we worked for the last three and a half years to finally have the doors open again, have customers on trains, it's been everything we hoped for and more," said Johnston.
In addition to new track and new trains, the depot also received some much needed TLC.
"We took an 1890s built building and upgraded it with all the modern amenities that customers require now," said Johnston.
As for the depot, Johnston jokingly says that it's a blend of Bavarian and Victorian style architecture.
Our adventure begins at the newly renovated depot, elevation 6,320 feet.
The train ride to the top of the mountain climbs more than 7,700 vertical feet on nine miles of track.
It's a surprisingly smooth 1 hour and 10 minute ride to the summit.
Traveling uphill, the train reaches a top speed of 10.5 mph. Downhill, it can only max out at 8.5 mph.
Early on, we see lush forests, large boulders and beautiful waterfalls.
The real show starts as we climb above treeline just past the 5 mile mark.
"We have a point on the line there that's called Inspiration Point because the view is just inspiring, and that is really the first time that you get the oohs and ahhs from a lot of the customers that aren't from around here," said Johnston.
Closer to the summit, there's a clear view of the Continental Divide on the left side of the train, and Colorado Springs to the right.
Views like this carry on for the final 15 minutes until we reach the 14,115 foot summit.
The air is thin on top of the mountain, but the views are worth it.
For those not from Colorado, you're bound to feel the altitude.
The trip includes 40 minutes or so up top before returning back to Manitou Springs.
Our journey down the mountain provides more time to soak in the scenery.
For anyone who's done the drive, this is far more relaxing.
Johnston says that after being closed since late 2017, they're just happy to be back in business.
"Were just excited and we're hoping to kind of be a shining light for the Pikes Peak Region as tourism rebounds here in 2021," said Johnston.
For more information and to purchase tickets, you can visit their website at www.cograilway.com.