COLORADO SPRINGS — “It’s amazing. It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime chance for sure,” said Katelyn a tourist visiting the top of Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is one of the top tourist destinations in Colorado. Only this year's visitor numbers so far, are down from recent years.
Numbers are off by 20% for the month of June and down 13% for the year.
Pikes Peak America’s Mountain, Manger, Skyler Rorabaugh sees numerous variables that could be impacting the number of people visiting. He is not trying to place the blame or make excuses; rather he wants to make sure there isn't anything discouraging people from visiting.
“Some late snows here in the spring heading into the early part of summer, as well as higher gas prices. A lot more [tourist] places opening, with COVID on the downturn,” Rorabaugh is referring to some of the things that could account for the lower numbers. Most of these things are factors managers of the mountain cannot control.
Rorabaugh has already made some adjustments to the new parking reservation system for the limited spaces at the top of the mountain. It is a possible factor he can adjust. 25 new spaces have been added making for just over 186 spots.
The reservations are proving successful in spreading visitors out throughout the day. It appears a factor in minimizing long lines at the entrance to the highway. It is also helping prevent traffic jams with vehicles circling at the top of the mountain while waiting to find a parking space.
Rorabaugh is concerned the reservation system is not fully understood by potential visitors. “You don’t necessarily need to have a reservation even if you want to explore the summit.”
There is an overflow parking area four miles below the summit with shuttle buses that take visitors to the top. Rorabaugh pointed out that, unlike parking reservations, there is no time limit on how long you stay. You just catch the most convenient shuttle back to your car whenever you want.
There are also times when reservations have not been filled. Visitors who ask at the entrance can sign up for one of those spots.
Katelyn and her boyfriend Josh got their reservation the night before their morning visit, “We did it last night so it wasn’t bad.”
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