Faith and I woke up early, left around 07:00, and drove to the Old Colorado City section of town. We went to La Baguette, a French bakery and cafe. We got a chocolate croissant, a cinnamon roll, a traditional croissant, a blueberry croissant, and an apple-filled croissant. They were all very good, but I would definitely recommend the German bakery from Day 2 instead, for both price and flavor.
In present day, there are three ways to get up Pike’s Peak.
- Ride the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest in the world. It closed for repairs in 2017, but reopened in 2021. The ride takes about 4 hours round trip. The line has been in service since 1891.
- Hike to the top. The Barr Trail is a grueling 13 miles that ascends over 8,000′.
- The easy option (and our selection)…drive to the top.
After breakfast, Ian, Faith, and I drove past Manitou Springs to the small town of Cascade, and turned off for the entrance of the Pike’s Peak Highway. We’d made an entrance reservation ($2) the night before, so we paid the entry fee, got a spiel from the gatekeeper lady about how to properly use our gears and cool our brakes coming down the mountain (“more 1 than 2 on the way down”), gathered a couple maps, and headed on our merry way.
We stopped multiple times on our way up to explore a bit. The views of the surrounding mountains were stunning, and it was a beautiful drive. I was surprised how different the scenery was from the area just around Colorado Springs – it’s much greener, and feels more “alpine”. One SUV in front of us kept stalling out on the way up – I think we passed them three or four times!
We saw several marmots and plenty of signs about bighorn sheep, but sadly no other animals. We stopped the truck at Devil’s Playground (named for the lightning that frequents this barren, exposed area), not realizing that our entrance reservation allowed us to drive to the top; most visitor’s have to take a bus up. After sitting on the bus and chatting to the driver for a while, we realized our misunderstanding and headed back to our vehicle to drive the remaining stretch.
At the peak (14,115′), the Summit House houses a sizeable visitor’s center, museum, and cafeteria. There are viewing platforms all around, giving everyone a 360° view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The cafeteria serves some unique cake donuts that are only good at the top of the mountain, because the difference in the atmospheric pressure (and thus the boiling point of water) makes the donuts deflate at lower altitudes. We tried some chocolate, powdered sugar, and cinnamon-sugar donuts, grabbed a couple other small snacks, and then headed back down the mountain, stopping a few more times to enjoy the views while our brakes cooled. There was a mandatory brake function and temperature check about halfway down.
Jive's Coffee // Afternoon
Back at the house, we scrounged up some leftover pizza for lunch, and settled down for the afternoon since it was now very overcast and raining. Abby and Faith made a coffee run to Jive’s Coffee, and brought Ian and me back a caffeine boost. Ian and I played guitar for a while again.
Now back at the house, Faith and I headed out to pick up everyone’s dinner order from Monse’s Taste of El Salvador Pupuseria. The Salvadoran restaurant serves its namesake pupusas (the national dish of El Salvador), which are basically thick corn fritters stuffed with various fillings, grilled on a flat top. We got pork and chicken pupusas, chips and salsa, beans and rice, Spanish rice, maduros (fried sweet plantains), curtido (pickled cabbage salad), and some beef empanadas. All the food was delicious, and it was an excellent feast.
Monse's Taste of El Salvador Pupuseria
Colorado Springs, CO
You don’t see many Salvadoran restaurants around. Monse’s was a special treat, and a nice deviation from typical Hispanic restaurants (aka Tex-Mex).
* – Would definitely visit again
** – Exceptional, must visit if you’re in the area
*** – Worth making a special trip to eat there
For dessert, we split two of the chocolate eclairs we got from La Baguette this morning. They were excellent, and were much better than the pastries we had in the morning.
Here’s a video of some of today’s adventures: