Colorado Springs, CO
Pikes Peak or Bust!
With snow-capped Pikes Peak looming in the background, the thing to do here is climb the mountain. But only the fittest of families should attempt hiking this 14,110-foot giant. For everyone else, there's the train:
- Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The ride's the adventure and no one has to worry about hairpin turns. What's more, all the railcar windows are huge, so everyone gets a good view. To keep young explorers amused during the 1-hour and 10-minute chug up, bring along binoculars or disposable cameras and tell them to keep their eyes peeled for whistling marmots (furry, high-altitude groundhogs), elk, and bighorn sheep. You'll have about 40 minutes at the summit to ogle the "Oh, Beautiful" view before the journey down. Tip: Bathrooms, food concessions, and souvenir shops are available at the top and bottom, but not on the train. Reserve tickets in advance.
- Pikes Peak Highway. This 19-mile, roller-coaster drive from the tollgate to the summit is not for the faint-of-heart. There are lots of twists and turns and the road is gravelly. But you aren't beholden to a train schedule. And all "ooh-let's-stop" requests can be honored. Once you've taken in the view and thrown a few snowballs, treat the gang to high-altitude donuts and hot chocolate. The round trip takes three hours; longer if you make lots of stops.
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