Pikes Peak History

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, the summit of Pikes Peak is one of the most famous in the country—and in the world. At 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and one of the most visited mountains in North America.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Timeline

The mountain was named for explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike, who discovered the existence of the mountain in 1806.

Long before Zebulon Pike, the Ute Indians followed trails along the mountain during their hunting and gathering expeditions. The Utes called Pikes Peak “Sun Mountain Sitting Big” and believed that it was here that the Great Spirit created the world.

It is believed that the mountain’s rocks and stones may be over 2.3 billion years old—pre-dating the actual formation of the Rockies themselves.

Interesting Facts


Pikes Peak was the inspiration for the opening lines of “America the Beautiful,” penned by Wellesley College English professor Katharine Lee Bates while on a summer teaching assignment in Colorado Springs.


Pikes Peak was a visible geographic landmark for gold miners during the 1850s and 1860s. During this time, an estimated 100,000 people moved to Colorado in search of gold. Their migration led to the coining of the phrase “Pikes Peak or Bust”.


30 women motored to the summit in 1916 to plant a flagpole drawing attention to the proposed 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would grant women the right to vote. The amendment was ratified in 1920.


The Pikes Peak Marathon is the third oldest marathon in the country. The event starts at the base of Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs, and runners climb over 7,800 feet to the top. Due to the hazards and difficulty of the race, only 800 runners can compete each year.


The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, or “The Race to the Clouds,” is the country’s highest altitude auto race. The 12.4-mile event attracts racers from around the world driving at average speeds up to 75 miles per hour around more than 150 perilous turns and 1,000-foot drop-offs.


There have been numerous claims of Bigfoot sightings near Pikes Peak. Tourists and residents alike have reported Bigfoot-like creatures roaming open stretches of grass, banging on their door at night, and leaving non-human size footprints on trails. Over the years, tales of 100-foot-long sea monsters and giant man-eating rats also have been reported.