All Aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The only thing more adventurous than taking a cog railway up the top of Pikes Peak, is hiking to the 14,115 feet summit. Since most of us aren’t ready to take that on that challenge with our kids, this is the next best thing! Plus, for the train lovers out there, this is even better because you get to marvel at the engineering and history behind this famous rail system. With the recent Grand Re-Opening of The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway this May 2021, the experience has gotten even better!

Thank you to The Broadmoor Hotel for hosting us, all opinions are my own. Be sure to check out my full post on an Adventure Family’s Guide to The Broadmoor Hotel.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway Pin

ALL ABOARD!!!! The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak cog railway is open and celebrating their 130th Anniversary! The railway has been closed for past three years and just opened back up in May 2021. In addition to the renovations at the depot, they’ve modernized existing trains and purchased three brand new shiny trains from Switzerland. The Visitor’s Center at the summit of Pike’s Peak is also brand new and should have it’s grand opening by the end of June 2021.

Riding the Cog Railway is a unique experience as there are only two cog railways in the US. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the highest and longest rack railway in the world, climbing from 6,750 feet at the brand-new depot for 9 miles until topping out at 14,115 feet at the top of “America’s Mountain.”

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The average incline is 12% but can get as steep as 25% in some parts (like Sun of a Gun Hill). These trains are able to climb at such steep grades thanks to the toothed double rail in the center of the track that creates a cog and gear system for the train to grab onto on the way up and keeps from running away on the way down.

view from the window of the cog railway
Windy Point

My little train lovers enjoyed the experience! It took one hour to get to the top and about an hour and 15 minutes to get down. The ride was smooth and steep with lots to see out of both sides of the train including waterfalls, hikers on the Barr Trail, historical landmarks such as the old Halfway House, wildlife, and sweeping views once you get above tree line. We enjoyed the conductor’s commentary, historical facts, and jokes (just wait for the one about the brakes on the way down!!).

kids in front of cog railway

Once reaching the summit, we were able to spend about 40 minutes exploring the peak, taking photos, and trying to stay warm. Even with the cloud cover, we were still able to take in 360-degree views from the top. We huddled back into the train as it started to snow. Then rode down with Yellow-bellied marmots running alongside the train!

Couple at top of Pikes Peak
kids at top of Pikes Peak
view from the top of Pikes Peak on cog railway


1) Bring Snacks!

While I can’t yet report on the amenities at the Visitor’s Center (although I hear there will still be donuts!!), I was glad that my backpack was stocked with snacks and water for the ride and summit since it is about a 3-hour experience.

2) Potty Ahead of Time

Go to the restroom before boarding the train as there is not a potty on the railway.

3) Bring Warm Clothes

Plan for all four seasons at the top of Pikes Peak, and specifically plan for colder weather and wind! We rode in early June and it snowed while we were at the top. Check the weather in advance and bring warm clothing regardless of the season.

4) Don’t get left on the mountain

Listen for the horn sounding and remember to sync your watches as the railway will return down the mountain on schedule (approximately 40 minutes after arriving, but the conductor will tell you the exact time).

5) Carry your babies

Strollers are not allowed on the train.

6) Sit on the “3 Seat Side”

If you purchase Reserved Admission Tickets, you will be able to pick your seats at the time of your reservation. I recommend choosing window seats on the “3 seat side” of the train for stunning views of Inspiration Point. Alternatively, on the “2 seat side” you get views of the waterfalls in the early portion on the climb and have a better chance of sighting Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, deer, and yellow-bellied marmots.

7) Drink lots of water

Stay hydrated for your trip to the summit of a Colorado “14er” as you may feel the effects of the altitude at the peak.

8) Park for free

Paid parking is available across the street from the depot, but plan for extra time to arrive due to construction and traffic in Manitou Springs. You can also utilize the free shuttle from Hiawatha Gardens to the depot with Manitou Incline

9) Wear a mask

Masks are currently required on the train.

10) Plan Ahead

With the Grand Re-opening timed with summer travelers, be sure to reserve your tickets well in advance.

Cog Railway

Read more about our family’s full Broadmoor experience here. If you are looking for adventurous ideas to add to your Colorado Springs itinerary, check out my posts on the Seven Falls Hike, the Manitou Incline, or the Paint Mine Interpretive Park.



  1. Alice

    This is something I would love to try. I love mountains and would love to visit Colorado to see them. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Barbara

    Great tips for all travelers!

  3. Misskorang

    There reopened The Pikes Peak Cog? OMG!!! I am so doing this with the family. Thanks for this

  4. Stephanie

    What a once in a lifetime experience! This adventure was not available when I lived in Colorado in 2001. It’s mind blowing that you can take a train up a 14er! Great tips for seating on the train and how to make the day fun!

  5. Cindy Moore

    What a fun adventure! I’ve driven up to Pike’s Peak. Such a beautiful area.

  6. Danielle Ardizzone

    I had no idea it got that cold in Colorado in June! I was shocked when I saw the snow. Looks like a fun adventure!

  7. Marianne

    What an awesome trip for the kids! Mine loved riding the short cog train in Germany. Will definitely be earmarking this for future!

  8. Adrienne

    I would love to go to Colorodo Springs. (it’s on my list!) I am going to have to add this fun experience to my things to do! And I couldn’t believe whe I read this was in June with the snow on the ground. how wild!

  9. Elizabeth

    We used to live in Colorado Springs, and although we have driven up to Pike’s Peak, we have never taken the cog railway! It’s definitely on our to do list when we visit again! Great tips, thanks!

  10. Larissa Li

    I love train rides! So soothing and romantic 🥰

  11. Cecile

    That look like a very fun adventure. My kids never took the train. It’s an awesome idea.

    • Sabrina DeWalt

      We are looking forward to the Cog Railway experience when we get back to Colorado.

  12. Chelsea

    This looks like such a fun thing to do with kids. And I agree with you: strollers aren’t fun on trains. I’m all about carrying the babies (and toddlers lol!)

  13. Erica Pittenger

    I want to do this!!!! Adding it to our travel wish list! Thank you for all the great tips! Excellent adventure!

  14. Suz |

    I’ve not considered taking the cog train up Pikes Peak – I didn’t even know it existed! I’ve driven up – and down – it a couple of times. Great area!

  15. Cindy

    This looks like so much fun! Trains are a great experience.

  16. Tricia Snow

    Wow! What a cool trip! I would love to get there someday. I am adding this to my road trip bucket list.

  17. Terra Booth

    Another great adventure for you and your family! Very interesting to read how the train can climb, it’s never anything I’ve thought of before!

    • Tiffany

      Sounds like so much fun…and I love marmots!!!

  18. Cynthia Mackintosh

    What a fun & adventurous trip! I absolutely love train trips!!! We took one from Lancaster, England to London. Very memorable!


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