Pikes Peak Cog Railway Trip

We purchased reserved seats for the Cog Railway out of Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak for a 9:20 am departure.  We arrived early as everything we read said parking was scarce.  And it really was; but as we got there around 8:20, an hour before, we had no issues.  There was so little parking up there, I bet the 10 am train folks would be either walking a mile or two or would have to take a shuttle from parking down in the town.

Boarding time arrived fairly quickly and we found our seats.  We were in one of the older trains and the seats were two abreast and faced the two seat in front of you.  My knees were touching the seat in front of me.  Yikes!  Lucky for me a small child sat there. Some tall guys were across the aisle from us and their legs were straddling each other.   And then, we both lucked out even further as a woman gave up her seat a row in front of us to sit with friends elsewhere in the coach, and the folks in the seats facing us could move ahead to be with the rest of their family.  Wow!!   If I ever had to go again, I would buy all 4 seats for two of us.   The newer trains may have more room.  Looked like it from a distance.

The engine was fairly loud and roared all the way up to the top; and coming down, seemed a bit louder.   It’s a single-lane track with occasional sidings to allow trains to pass each other.  My thought is it’s normal to pass two trains on each way as they leave about 40 minutes apart.   It’s an extremely steep grade, so it makes sense they use a cog (gear) to keep moving at a safe speed.  It’s probably even more important when going back down.

The ride is about 1 1/2 hours each way with about 40 minutes at the top.  It’s windy and cold up there.  It was close to 90 in Colorado Springs and probably 40 at the top.   It’s over 14,000 feet, and you will notice how thin the air is just moving around, and the stairs will have you huffing and puffing in a few steps!  I guess one of the features of being up there is you get to see kids throwing up.  We got to see a couple.  Not sure if the parents had them eating at the snack bar or it was just the lack of oxygen or possibly a combination of both.  That part is not mentioned in the brochure.

I had purchased two cans of oxygen at a local store prior to going there just in case.  They are both still unopened.  I had read about them always being out of them at the top.  I didn’t see anyone else using them.  Ours never came out of the backpack.  They are in thin aluminum canisters that seem to be empty as they are so light.

Anyway, beautiful views in all directions while we were there.  We had picked a perfect day, hardly any clouds in the sky.   I had forgotten you can also drive to the top.  I was talking to a guy that had driven his Tesla up with his family.   I bet that regenerative braking was very helpful on the way back down!  I heard there was a brake check on the way down where someone comes out and lets you know if you can go further or not based on your brakes.  (temperature?) Not sure what happens if they determine your brakes are a problem.

The trip up and back down were uneventful, until the boy in the seat ahead of us started throwing up out the window.  Felt bad for him.  When we drove back down through Manitou Springs, we noticed it had a pretty nice old downtown and we would come back and visit if we had time later in the week.

July 14th 2022