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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.

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         Historic Glen Cove Inn, 1916.

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 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.

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An Icon of the American Gold Rush

In the late 1850s and early 1860s, 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 1800s, 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, "America the Beautiful."

In the early 1900s, the Barr Trail and the Pikes Peak Auto Highway were completed. The area grew in popularity and in 1963, land above 14,000 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 between 400-500,000 visiting the Peak itself

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    Road equipment on Pikes Peak Highway, 1930s

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

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