Pikes Peak, rising 14,110 feet in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited in the world behind Japans Mount Fuji.
Pikes Peak was originally named “El Capitan” by Spanish settlers but re-named for Zebulon Pike Jr.
Pike, a captain in the United States Army, was commanded by President Jefferson to lead an expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory in order to find the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. Pike and his men left on July 1806 and in November they attempted to climb to the summit but they were not prepared for the harsh weather and a blizzard forced them to turn back. During the Gold Rush of the 1850’s, Pikes Peak became the symbol to the prospectors—their motto was “Pikes Peak or Bust.” In 1885 Mrs. Julia Archibald Holms was the first women to climb to the summit with the Lawrence Party who camped on the peak for two days before descending. In 1893 Katherine Lee Bates, a professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, was teaching summer classes at Colorado College. While there she joined a group on a rough wagon ride and hike to the top of Pikes Peak. Katherine was so taken with the awe inspiring beauty at the summit, that she wrote a poem that later became the song “America the Beautiful”. Pikes Peak has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today you can take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or drive nineteen miles on the Pikes Peak Highway to ascend to the summit. The views along the highway are breathtaking especially in the fall when the Aspens are “in color”. Pikes Peak is located ten miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.