Pikes Peak Bike Tours

Get ready for a thrilling downhill ride with Pikes Peak Bike Tours.

The best way to experience Pikes Peak is on a bike! I’ve been to the top several times, but this was my first time coming down on two wheels instead of four.

Get Ready

Our guide Dan is ready to roll.

The day starts at the shop where everyone checks-in and grabs breakfast. From there we’re given a demonstration about the bikes, and pile into the vans for our ride up to the Peak.

The guides were fun and full of energy. Here’s my group leader Tyler.

Pikes Peak Bike Tours has truly great guides to lead you on this adventure. Our guides, Wes, Tyler, Dan, Calie, and Austin, were very personable, and spoke to everyone as if we were long-time friends.

Wes and Tyler lead my group, and as we drove, they kept the conversation going with fun tidbits about Pikes Peak and the surrounding area. They discussed what we could expect from the weather and also what to expect on the trip back down.

The Summit

At the top, we spent 15-20 minutes to visit the gift shop and take in the view. I wish we had a few more minutes to take photos at the top, but I was excited for the ride to begin.

My friend Daniel and I were ready!

It’s very cold up on the Peak year round, so make sure you bring a sweater and a windbreaker. PPBT has loaner gloves and some spare clothes, but it’s best to come prepared. Sunglasses and sunscreen are always good things to wear for any activity in Colorado.

Soon the bikes were unloaded, and we were given a few minutes to ride around to gain our mountain legs for the trip to the bottom. We had one more safety/instructional huddle, then we were split into two groups, fast and slow. You pick your group based on your comfort level. The slow group allows people to travel back down at their own pace. Our fast group guide, Tyler, explained we would be traveling at speeds around 25 miles per hour most of the way down.

Only One Way Down

The views really are second to none.

Tyler led the group the whole way down; Wes followed in the van. The slow group was sandwiched between the other two vans for the trip down. Anytime cars needed to pass, we pulled off to the side of the road. I never felt nervous about the cars because our guides were so at ease and handled the whole group really well. We took a few stops along the way for photos and to let everyone catch up. If you wanted to switch the group you were in, you were allowed to switch at these stopping points.

There are three short climbs on the trip. Our guides had no problem tossing a bike back up on the van to chauffeur reluctant participants uphill like a V.I.P.

Once we made it to the bottom, everyone piled back in the vans, and they drove us to Old Colorado City for lunch. The meal and tip for the server are included in the ticket price, so you can walk in, sit down and eat without worry. After lunch, you return to the shop, where the trip ends. The group I ate lunch with decided to walk the few blocks back to the shop. The walk was a nice way to stretch my legs after being on the bike that long.

When Can I Go Again?

I had such a great time, and no matter how many times I reach the summit, the view always takes my breath away.

Going up and back down in a car is a nice experience, but to come back down on a bike with no walls or windows is exhilarating. The rush of the cold wind, and the steep views from all around are some of best experiences I’ve ever had. Not to mention, when you get back to town, you can look up at Pikes Peak and say, “I rode down that on a bike!”

I have to give a HUGE thank you to the staff of Pikes Peak Bike Tours for an amazing trip. PPBT has even more ways to experience the area with tours along Gold Camp Road and even special event tours like their Fourth of July Fireworks Ride. I’ll definitely be coming back for another trip!

Pikes Peak Bike Tours | bikepikespeak.com | (719) 337-5311

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Farmers Markets in the Pikes Peak Region

What better way to embrace Colorado in all its glory than to dine on locally grown food? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s farmer’s market time. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Please promise me you’ll try some Palisade peaches before you go home.

Colorado Springs Farmers Markets

Information from VisitCoS.com

Mondays

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October

Tuesdays

Fountain Farmers Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 7 p.m. May 30 – Aug. 1

Canon City Farmers Market, Veterans Park; 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.  June 6 – Sept 26

Wednesdays

Briargate Farmers Market, 7610 N. Union Blvd.; 9 a.m. -3 p.m. May 23 – Oct. 10

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October

Colorado Farm & Art Market at the Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St.; 3 – 7 p.m. June through mid October

Fountain Community Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 6 p.m. June 7 – August 27

Thursdays

Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.; 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. TBD

Banning Lewis Ranch, 6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd.; 3 – 7 p.m. June 7 – September 13

Manitou Community Market, Soda Springs Park; TBD

Fridays

Buffalo Bicycle Lodge, 2 El Paso Blvd; 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. June 8 – September 7

Saturdays

Personal FavoriteOld Colorado City Farmers Market, W. Colorado Ave & 24th St.; 7 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. June 9 – October 20

Monument Hill Farmers Market, 66 S. Jefferson St.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 26 – October 13

Colorado Farm & Art Market at Margarita at Pine Creek; 7350 Pine Creek Rd.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June through Mid October

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Promenade Shops at Briargate, 1885 Briargate Parkway; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June 9 – September 29

Sundays

Downtown Colorado Springs, Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave.; 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. June 25 – September 3 (free parking meters on Sundays)

Cordera, 11894 Grandlawn Cir.; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. June 3 – September 16

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Daily

Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center, 1430 S. Tejon St.; Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Woodland Park Farmers Markets

Information from Teller County Farmers Market Assoc.

Fridays

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

There is a summer farmers market in Woodland Park, in Memorial Park / Henrietta Avenue near the Cultural Center. The market begins the second Friday in June and goes through September. You can park across from City Hall on South Avenue, at the Senior Center (please leave spaces for seniors close to the building), next to the Ute Pass Cultural Center, in Bergstrom Park off Hwy 24, and at various public parking lots in downtown Woodland Park. It’s easy to park on a residential street and walk to the farmers market.

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My Sweet Escape Bakery & Cafe

My Sweet Escape Bakery and Cafe in Woodland Park, Colorado
My Sweet Escape Bakery and Cafe is on the corner of Highway 24 and Elm in Woodland Park’s Gold Hill Square.
Guys, it was yummy.

My Sweet Escape is a cute bakery on the corner of Gold Hill Plaza in Woodland Park, Colorado. As the name suggests, the shop is full of yummy baked treats from cupcakes and cookies to flaky pastries filled with berries and cream. Needless to say, if you leave unsatisfied, it’s your own fault.

Not only does My Sweet Escape have many bakery favorites, it also has a full menu from stews, sandwiches and great sides, to their famous Czech kolaches and hamburgers. We went with our kids, then drove on to Mueller State Park for a day of exploring.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins!

112 South Elm Street, Woodland Park, CO 80863 | mysweetescapebakery.com

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Costello Street Coffee House

Costello Street Coffee House in Florissant, Colorado.
Costello Street Coffee House was renovated from the historic McLaughlin House in Florissant, Colorado. The house was built in 1885 for the McLaughlins, a prominent family in the area, who lived right next door to the founders of Florissant, the Costellos.

Be careful, don’t blink! If you do, you might miss all of Florissant, Colorado, on your way through. Like many mountain towns throughout Colorado, the bustling metropolis of Florissant is comprised of a small cluster of shops. If you’re not paying attention, you might pass it by.

However, this small town, located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Teller County Rd 1, is worth slowing down for.

It has a convenience store and gas station, so it’s a good place for a pit-stop. But it’s also home to some great food.

Costello Street Coffee House has a Victorian interior design.
The Victorian style of Costello Street Coffee House makes it unique and homey. Get cozy by the fire with your drink of choice.

Costello Street Coffee House is a fun place to stop and refresh. The historic McLaughlin House in Florissant now serves steamy cups of coffee and tasty treats, while maintaining the cozy feeling of going home!

The home was built in 1885 for the McLaughlins during the height of the Victorian era. The McLaughlins were a prominent family in the Florissant area,  and the interior reflects their Victorian style to this day.

Costello Street Coffee House has a full menu if you want a bite for lunch, or you can grab a pastry to go. You’ll find all the staple coffee-shop drinks. I got a chai tea. I’m not usually a fan of chai, but this was tasty. To me, chai tastes like Christmas. It has the same smell as the boxes of Christmas decorations we unpacked each year. I think that’s why I don’t get it often; it seems out of place in months that aren’t December! But I can definitely see myself coming back around Christmas for another chai tea while getting cozy in front of the fireplace.

They have a full menu.
They have a full menu as well as delicious pastries to choose from.

Florissant is an hour from Colorado Springs, and an hour and a half from Breckenridge, so it works as a perfect midway point. Pike National Forest, The Florissant Fossil Beds, and Mueller State Park are all 10-20 minutes away. You can stop by Costellos to grab some breakfast before venturing into the Pikes Peak area. Then finish your day by exploring Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods before heading back up Ute Pass and into the mountains surrounding the Florissant area.

All in all, I give Costello Street Coffee House a 6/10. I don’t think they have a lot of unique things to offer, but what they have is consistent and good. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re staying in our Florissant Family Retreat, only 10 minutes away!

Kid Friendly: Yes

Drive through: No

2679 US Hwy 24, Florissant, CO 80816costellostreetcoffeehouse.com

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Explore Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain

Pikes Peak from Woodland Park, Colorado.
Pikes Peak with a light dusting of snow, as seen from Woodland Park, Colorado!

A Colorado Fourteener

Fourteen thousand, one hundred and fifteen feet! Woah! Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain, stands over 14,000 feet above sea level, and it towers more than half that distance above the towns at its base, including Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek, Cañon City and Woodland Park.

Manitou Incline near Colorado Springs at the base of Pikes Peak.
These are our nephews on their first time up the Manitou Incline. It’s finally hitting them what they’re about to do.

As an above-14,000-foot peak, it’s part of the group of mountains known as fourteeners. Colorado has 54 fourteeners, and Pikes Peak ranks 31st out of those 54. Conquering the summit of Pikes Peak is truly an achievement.

Pikes Peak was discovered in the 1700s, but wasn’t named until an excursion brought Zebulon Pike into the area. Later, Katherine Lee Bates would write a poem describing the beauty of the American countryside, and the “purple mountain majesties” were based on none other than Pikes Peak. America’s Mountain was born.

Locals can attest to the purple hue of the mountains in the early morning sun, and they always look for “the Peak” to know they’re close to home.

It’s a Spectacle for All

Whether you’re hiking, biking, driving or taking some great Colorado photography, it’s a must-see attraction.

To drive to the top…

A view of Colorado Springs from the Pikes Peak Tollway.
A view from the Pikes Peak Tollway!

…you begin at the Pikes Peak Tollway in Cascade, Colorado. It’s a 19-mile journey that will take several hours round-trip. It will take your breath away as you navigate the switchbacks to the top. Be prepared for the journey with some snacks and water for the car. You may notice that you get sleepy along the way. That’s the altitude! Also, be prepared for a 30-degree temperature drop. Even in the middle of summer, it can be cold on the peak, so bring a coat! Make sure to get some fudge at the top in the gift shop. It’s so yummy!

PRICES: Adult: $10 | Child (6-15): $5 | Carload up to 5 people: $35 

HOURS: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Daily | Last car goes up at 3 p.m.

The hike is not for the faint of heart.

The Manitou Incline
When you think you’re almost there, you still have a ways to go! This view is just below the half way point on the Manitou Incline.

The Barr Trail begins in Manitou Springs. You can begin with the infamous Manitou Incline, a set of over 2,700 stairs that gain 2,000 feet in elevation in just under a mile. Not ready for that? You can jump right on the Barr Trail. The trail is 13 miles and gains 7,510 feet from beginning to end. You’ll want to begin in the wee hours of the morning because it can take more than 4 hours just to get half way! Many hikers choose to make the trip to the top a two-day trek (that’s my most alliterative sentence, to date). Barr Camp is about 7 miles from the trailhead. You can make reservations to stay overnight at barrcamp.com/overnight.php.

Bike it!

Or rather, bike down. You can book a Jeep tour to the summit of Pikes Peak. You’ll meet in the morning for a yummy breakfast, then take a Jeep to the top! Once you’re there, there’s only one way down, right? Cruise down 19.5 miles of scenic highway back to Cascade, and end at the Wines of Colorado for a lunch to celebrate your return! Book at tour at pikespeakbybike.co.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak rises out of the trees near our Catamount Cabin.

At the end of your incredible day, kick back and relax at our Catamount Cabin in Woodland Park, which looks right out on the majestic mountain you just explored, or our Family Retreat in Florissant which, at almost 9,000 feet is nestled in the heart of this great countryside.

 

For weather & road conditions on Pikes Peak Highway, call 719-385-7325.

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What to Pack for a Colorado Vacation

No one wants to travel across the country only to realize something was forgotten. At the same time, hauling everything but the kitchen sink through an airport is exhausting. The more people traveling together, the more luggage there is; pile kids’ toys, strollers, and sippy cups on top, and you might as well have brought the sink too. Needless to say, packing for a vacation can be a delicate art.

That’s where a vacation rental is great. We supply the necessities–blankets, pillows, towels, and best of all, a washer and dryer.

Save yourself the hassle and pack light. You can always wash your clothes at your rental and save the suitcase space for souvenirs!

That being said, what do you bring?

Dressing for Colorado weather is best summed up with one word: layers.

You’ll want layers you can easily take on and off. A nice, breathable t-shirt first, then long sleeves over that. On the top, think of wearing a wind- and water-proof jacket.

With the high altitude and low humidity, there’s greater temperature swings through the day than you would experience in the plains of the Midwest. Mornings and nights are quite cool, so you may want long sleeves and pants (even in the summertime), but by mid-day, you’ll want to ditch the long sleeves for something more breathable. Bring a backpack for hiking or cruising around town, and throw the jacket in the pack when you get too hot.

And remember the material of your clothes can make all the difference. Whether you’re coming for a winter or summer vacation, you’ll want your base layer to be something synthetic that wicks away sweat and breathes. Fleece makes a great warming layer over top. Finally, add that weatherproof jacket to keep out the elements.

And don’t forget about your little piggies! Particularly in the winter, you’ll want warm wool socks if you’re going to be outside.

Side note: It can be tempting to reach for cotton t-shirts, or a comfy sweatshirt, but cotton is only good when it’s dry. It doesn’t breathe in the summer, so when you sweat, it will cling to you. Then when you start to cool off, your clothes will be wet which will make you cold. In the wintertime, cotton keeps you warm by trapping air between you and the clothes. If you sweat from serious skiing, hiking or snowshoeing, that cotton will cling and the warm air pocket will be completely gone. You’ll be cold, and your day will be done. Think too, cotton socks in your boots bunch up, rub on your feet, and won’t keep you warm.

Other must-have items for a trip to Colorado:

  • Sunglasses. We have serious sun out here!
  • Water bottle. Less humidity + more altitude = dehydration. Every Coloradoan has a trusted water bottle that doesn’t leave their side. I even bring mine into restaurants!
  • Sunscreen. Same deal: altitude and sun can lead to serious sunburn. Even in the winter, sunscreen is a good idea. It also keeps the skin from drying out.
  • A hat.
  • Chapstick.
  • Your camera!
  • Shoes. If you’re going to hike, have a decent pair of shoes. I don’t care if you got your sandals in the hiking section of the sporting-goods store, you’ll want closed-toe shoes.
  • Backpack. I mentioned before that it’s handy to have a backpack, but I’ll say it again. It’s a great catch-all that’s easier than a purse and keeps Dad from loading up his pockets. Plus, a backpack makes it that much easier to pull over and go for a hike! Throw your water and snacks inside, and go for it!
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Top 5 Reasons to Book Directly with a Property Manager

 

In a world with Airbnb and VRBO, everyone can rent out their home.

It’s a great way to earn money back on your investment, and one I wholeheartedly support! But not every VRBO or Airbnb experience is created equal.

So much of what makes a vacation rental great is the host, or in our case, the manager. Many homeowners have full-time jobs and may even live across the country from their rental! That’s where renting from a vacation rental manager can take your vacation from good to great, and your vacation home from a simple place to sleep, to a place with incredible memories.

Need another reason to find a vacation rental manager in the city you want to visit? Here’s my top five!

1.  It’s My Job 

As a vacation rental manager, it’s my full-time, 24/7 job to take care of these properties and those in them! I have the time, the resources, and the experience to tell me what each house will need to be fully stocked and ready for guests.

2. Get What You Expect 

It can be hard to sift through pages and pages of houses, and get a good feel for the home. Give me a call and I can answer your questions. I know the houses inside and out, so let me walk you through them, and tell you exactly what you can expect when you get there.

3. Customer Service 

As my guest, I’m here for you. Do you want me to set up a reservation for you? Do you need me to bring you groceries so you can sit back and relax? Let me know! I want to help make your stay memorable and relaxing. If there’s something I can do to help, I will! Not to mention, I live, work and play here, so ask me questions. I can help you make the most of your visit.

4. Save on Fees 

Like other vacation rental managers, we have our homes on listing sites like Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey and more, but we know the service fees from those sites can be a drawback. So give us call, and we can save you the fees when you book directly with us.

5. Maintenance 

Neither you nor I want anything to go wrong during your stay, but if something happens, I’m on it. I do everything I can to resolve issues quickly. I don’t want you to go without anything, and as a manager, I have the time to focus on a problem and get it resolved. I can’t guarantee that everything will be working 100-percent of the time. Things happen–even in a vacation rental. But know that I won’t put off an issue, and I will do everything I can to make it right for you.

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Day Trip to the Ski Resorts

The Pikes Peak region really has it all. Hiking, fishing, ATV trails, horseback riding, amazing natural landmarks and best of all–it’s within driving distance to Colorado’s major ski resorts.

Our moderate climate makes this a great winter destination. Coming from the Midwest, my husband and I love that winter time is sunny in Colorado! And in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, lots of sun and not much snow means hiking year round. We can take the kids, the dogs, and our out-of-town friends on the trails we love and get glimpses of those breathtaking panoramas almost any day of the year.

I know many people come to Colorado during the winter for time on the slopes, but I say, why not have both?

Our toddler hiking on the well-groomed Nordic trails. At 2, he’s too young for ski school, but we had fun of our own!

Major resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail are about two hours away which makes for an easy drive and a fun day-trip in the snow. But come back to our neck of the woods, and enjoy the nicer weather along with other perks. You’ll save some cash by staying farther from the ski resorts, so you’ll be able to buy some souvenirs, go out to eat, and enjoy more than what your lift ticket can get you. And you can mix-up your daytime adventures by staying in a part of the state with a very different climate. One day you can go hiking or sight-seeing; the next day you can ski!

Another thing my husband and I love to tell visitors: check out the smaller ski resorts–especially if it’s your first time. Breckenridge is amazing. The views are wonderful, the skiing is first-class and you’ll have lots of fun. But so will everyone else. It’s a well-known resort, so it’s where people think to go. That means long lines to the lift, crowded runs down the mountain, and standing-room only in the lodge.

The Panda Patrol ski school was great!

We recently took a day-trip to Cooper Mountain in Leadville, Colorado, and it was the perfect place for some snowboarding for my husband, our 4-year-old tried skiing for the first time, and our toddler and I spent the day hiking and snowshoeing through the Nordic Center right next to the resort. Our favorite part, though, was the price. An adult lift ticket cost $54; a half day lesson, lunch and afternoon daycare cost $110 (rentals included); and my pass on the Nordic trails cost $15 (our 2-year-old went for free). That’s chump change compared to those major resorts!

And while the temperature stayed in the single digits in Leadville, we drove home and back into 40-degree weather. It was really nice after a long day to not have to freeze while unloading the car!

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