History

History


Some of the earliest known visitors to Pikes Peak and the surrounding area were Ute Indians, trappers and Spanish explorers. Wildlife was plentiful and included beaver, deer, elk, bear, buffalo, bighorn sheep and mountain lions.

Naming of Pikes Peak

  In 1803, the mountain was acquired by the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase. in 1806, the Peak was sighted by Lt. Zebulon Pike, an explorer. A blizzard kept Pike from reaching the summit, and though he never did, the mountain bears his name. 

The First Climb

  The first recorded ascent was in 1820 by Edwin James, a doctor and botanist who is also credited with discovering Colorado's state flower, the blue columbine. The first woman to climb the mountain was Mrs. Julia Archibald Holmes in 1858. 

Gold Rush

  In the late 1850's and early 1860's, the Gold Rush drew prospectors westward to find their fortunes. Because of the Peak's height and proximity to the Great Plains, it was a visual landmark for wagon trains heading west, leading to the expression; "Pikes Peak or Bust". 

America Adopts the Peak

  In the late 1800's, a carriage road to the summit and the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway were built. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates ascended the mountain in a prairie wagon and that evening wrote the poem which inspired the song; "American the Beautiful."

National Historic Landmark

 

In the early 1900's, the Barr Trail and the Pikes Peak Auto Highway were completed. The area grew in popularity and in 1963, land above 14,115 feet was declared a National Historic Landmark. 

Today, Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America. The region attracts 6 million visitors each year, with nearly 700,000 visiting the Peak itself. 

Like many explorers and adventure seekers before them, these visitors are no doubt drawn to the area's breathtaking scenery and beautiful, unspoiled wilderness.