Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs

 Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs

It was a day of superlatives as our Roadtrek eTrek literally took us to the heights of RVing – climbing Pikes Peak.

Making it even better because it was our wedding anniversary and we were spending it with family in one of the continent's most beautiful regions.

The Pike's Peak summit. Aimee, Jeff, Jennifer, Mike and our dogs Sequoia and Tai.It was 48 degrees up here at 14,150 feet, compared to the 95 down below.

The eTrek made an easy drive up all 14,150 feet to the summit of what is called America's Mountain. Pikes Peak surely is the most accessible big mountain on the continent, with a first rate road all the way up, despite some hairpin curves with little or no shoulder or guardrails. The only issue we had was on the descent, where at the mandatory brake check around 11,000 feet ours measured 600 degrees.

The view from the summit of Pike's Peak

I used low gears to help in slowing the vehicle on the drive down but the eTrek is a heavy vehicle and we needed to pull off and let it rest for a half hour.  So did lots of others in cars.

I used the downtime to take Tai for a walk and he chased up a couple of mule deer. He thought it great fun and had a sparkle in his  big brown Elkhound eyes that lasted the rest of the day.

The top of Pikes Peak offers dramatic, craggy windswept views, though we all felt a tinge of dizziness and queasiness, a touch of altitude sickness. Tai loved it at the summit, as did son Jeff's dog, Sequoia. The temperature up top was 48 degrees. Down below, it was in the nineties.

Pikes Peak is rich in history and was the symbol of the 1859 Gold Rush to Colorado with the slogan, “Pikes Peak or Bust.” Today, where pioneers and native Americans used to walk, a 19-mile long highway makes its way to the top, carrying half a million visitors each year. It's a beautiful drive through alpine forests, mountain reservoirs, and rugged rockface beyond the timberline.

Wendy, Dan and the girls didn't make it to the summit. Wendy felt ill about the 8,000 foot level and they instead hung around at lower altitudes, hiking and taking photos.

Garden of the Gods
A mule deer at Garden of the Gods

Off the mountain, we all rendezvoused and visited the spectacular 300-foot tall red rock formations at Garden of the Gods. Several large male mule deer posed for my new telephoto lens. We never would have spotted them had not Tai, his nose already tuned into deer scent from our adventure on the mountain, caught a whiff of them atop a hill at the base of one of the large red formations. We couldn't figure out why he was so tugging at his leash until someone looked up and shouted “deer.”

Our base camp for this part of the trip was the pristine Cheyenne Mountain State Park, located just south of Colorado Springs on the eastern slope of Cheyenne Mountain. The park is clean and new, opened in October 2006 and comprising 1,680 acres. Out our west window is the mountain itself. Out our east windows is a stunning overlook of the plains of Colorado and, at night, the sparkling lights of Colorado Springs.

Our spot at Cheyenne Mountain State Park holds our Roadtrek eTrek and the Amerlite travel trailer we are towing. Our eastern view is of the mountain

Literally under us is an amazing military complex, a fortress designed during the height of the cold war to withstand a 30 megaton nuclear hit and allow heads of government from the President on down to live in comfort and run the affairs of the country during an emergency. Today, it remains a very active worksite and houses elements of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Missile Defense Agency and the Federal Aviation Authority, among others.

My son Jeff walking Sequoia. His Roadtrek SS overlooks the Colorado plains.

That's hard to tell in our camping spots here. But we know we are near a military installation. At 10 PM the last two nights, we heard a bugler sound taps, its clear, plaintive sound echoing up from the green-roofed military buildings down in the foothills. This morning, we heard reverie as the sky turned pink. And we've seen helicopters doing flight training several times, as well.

The park is one of the nicest we've stayed in anywhere. There are 20 miles of hiking trails, though dogs are not permitted because of wildlife. There are black bears, cougars, coyotes and other critters. The prairie rattlesnake frequents the rocky areas. And a tent full of four young girls near us who are here for a weekend marathon had a scorpion crawl in.

We're about 6,500 feet high at our campsites. Days have been in the nineties, with low humidity. Nights delightfully cool to the low sixties.

Wednesday morning we pack up once again as the Great Roadtreking Family Vacation of 2014 continues  and we head off to the Four Corners region and Mesa Verde.

As I type this lateTuesday night, Jen and I are tucked into the eTrek and the rest of their family aleep in their RVs – Jeff and Aimee and Sequoia in a borrowed Roadtrek SS generously provided by some Roadtrek friends; Wendy, Dan, our granddaughters and their dog, Charley, in the Amerilite travel trailer we just bought from American RV in Grand Rapids and are towing with our Roadtrek eTrek. We wish we had another day or so here. There's lots more to see in this area.

I better be careful what I wish for.

Wendy and Dan, following our RVs in our car, report that it's been making a funny  but intermittent squealing noise. I took it for a short test drive but didn't hear a thing out of the ordinary. I pronounced it just fine. But Jennifer says my hearing isn't as keen as it should be. So we're debating whether we should have the car looked at before we continue on.

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • Well, now I know what I missed when I was stuck at a convention in Denver…..thanks for the details and pictures. Hope your “wish” isn’t too costly.

  • Thanks for the update. We’ll have to add Colorado Springs to our ever-growing list of places to visit. We enjoyed your wildlife pictures, too! Continued safe travels.

  • Mike, Jennifer and Family,

    You bring back wonderful memories with each passing mile. I’m literally arm chair touring, sitting in my wicker porch chair with my iPad on my lap, drinking coffee and looking out at gray skies.

    The western skies are a marvel just in themselves and they get so much bigger at the top of Pike’s Peak. My wife tells me to watch the road and she’ll watch the scenery on roads like that.

    Your call certainly but you don’t need the excitement of an unplanned stop. I’d have the car checked. However, if you want yet more adventure……

    Safe travels!


  • Mike,

    Whoa! I just looked up your campground and it’s beautiful!

    For those who don’t feel like Googling:


    What’s not to enjoy!


  • Hi Wendlands!! The trip looks amazing and nothing beats good company:) Enjoy the rest of the trip, stay safe and keep the bears away!! I love you Jeff and Aimee 🙂


  • Belated happy anniversary….obviously a good one for you both!

  • Bill…. We took the car into the dealer this morning and two hours later we were off. They couldn’t find anything wrong and guessed it was a stone that was in the break and worked it’s way out.

  • Jennifer,

    Whew! That’s great news and now you can travel worry free and enjoy even more of the great land.

    Thanks for the ride….. Tell Mike I have my own popcorn for the trip. Funny, my nickname at church is Popcorn Billy. Long story for a campfire sometime.

    All the best,


  • I hope you have some time to try River Rafting… prime territory, also MUST check out the Great Sand Dunes National Monument/Park. Its right on your way to Mesa Verde. You will be amazed at this natural geological and environmental phenomena. The campground is awesome too (shaded). Info/Visitors Center provides great education regarding the area.

  • We really enjoyed white water rafting with the Noah’s Ark White Water Rafting Company. Nice folks and great rafting.

    My $0.02 and worth every penny.


  • These places are all fantastic – we visited them back in 2003.

  • Wow

  • Have been to all three

  • Beautiful, want to travel out there.

  • Would love to see this in person.

  • Nice. I live an hour south of here.

  • So grateful to have visited all of those places in our travels. Thanks for the reminder Rosie.

  • Think it’s bout time—-

  • Gloria that is my front yard, kind of, so you and Uncle Jack come for a visit

  • I saw the name Pikes Peak and thought Starbucks Coffee. Maybe I will have a different thought after my first cup of Java gets through to my brain.

  • We will be there first of August

  • breathe taking beautiful moutains

  • Been at the top 5 yrs ago lovely fantastic place to visit the tour guide told us that scene was the inspiration of the song writer of. America the.beautiful

  • It was amazing!

  • I would love to see this!!!!

  • My three Sons and I are headed to Pikes Peak at the end of July!!!!

  • Been to these places and they are great!

  • Cheyenne Mountain…isn’t that where the Stargate is?

  • I would love to visit there… one day.

  • All wonderful places lived there,each season has it’s own beauty

  • Not stargate its Norad in the mountain.

  • Been there!!! Awesome!!!

  • Cool place see we have beautiful places in America to see

  • Been there they’re beautiful

  • I have been to piles peak before and it is beautiful.

  • Stationed and lived at Ft. Carson, near Colorado Springs for 3 years! All of these places are beautiful, and there are soooo many more places to see there. Plan on staying several days. Take a couple days to get used to the altitude! And remember, cars are affected by altitude also!!! Would love to go back for a few weeks, just to see all the changes!

  • It is a great trip and hope to do it again so many things to see ! South Dakota to

  • Happy that I live here.

  • Love these mountains. I am lost without them. Literally I am. Lol

  • Wilkerson Pass up highway 24.

  • Breckenridge all beautiful places. Love Colorado

  • Did that this summer.. Awesome!!!!

  • 2 more days and I’m coming back!

  • Beautiful part. Of our country.

  • Me too it was amazing!

  • Seen them all more than once. Beautifully created by God.

  • We have loved riding those roads through the mountains on our motorcycle !

  • Rode my motorcycle on them roads. Beautiful rides

  • Been to pikes peak and didn’t want to leave!

  • Used to live there.

  • We loved this place !!!

  • Visited those this summer. Loved all of it!

  • I love this part of our country! Colorado is a beautiful state! !!

  • Hope to see with my own eyes! Have seen some of CO, but not Pikes Peak 🙁

  • Beautiful…………..

  • was awesome

  • Right in our backyard! Love it. Visit Colorado Springs

  • They were all awesome

  • Beautiful

  • We were there and beautiful country! Garden of the Gods was awesome!

  • flew over the top and landed in the mountains … beautiful scenes

  • Steven Lightsey it’s only a little over an hour away from your place…… Maybe?

  • Drove up to Pikes Peak, loved it!
    Just wished I wouldn’t have had so much coffee. Caffeine kicks your butt at that altitude.

  • Love that whole area!

  • they are all beautiful I have seen them all.

  • Beautiful area!

  • The High Country!!!! Lol Pun Intended!!!!!

  • Love it can’t wait till me and my family r able to relocate there

  • Karen Renee Howard

  • Was there with the boy scouts back in the 90s beautiful is all I can say

  • Just drove our Pleasure Way to the top of Pikes Peak a few weeks ago passing thru going North. I coming back someday to watch them race to the top !

  • Great country!

  • Oh wow, this is awesome – the beauty of our Lord’s handiwork.

  • Been there awesome views.

  • Beautiful area!

  • Use to live there, Miss it, Wish I would of never left !! 🙁

  • Been there, beautiful!

  • Been there its gorgeous.

  • Oh Gardens of the God’s is a fun hiking place.

  • Have been to all three—

  • Been to all three! Colorado is so majestic I miss it!

  • Not bad , bc 3 ranges in 1 day easy

  • Awesome thank you God.

  • Beautiful and amazing

  • Nice

  • There are so many beautiful places to see in Colorado, you just believe it until you see it.

  • I live here full time 🙂

  • A little off topic, but what is Sequoia? We adopted a stray that looks very similar. Oddly enough, we also have an Elkhound.

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