COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The holiday weekend kicks off the busiest time of the year for the highway and the summit of Pikes Peak, and it also brings a new reservation system for the summit of the mountain. American.
Visitors are now required to make an online reservation to get to the summit and pay a $2 fee for two-hour summit time slots.
The new system is in place due to an increase in visitors and people spending more time at the summit to enjoy the additional attractions provided when the new summit house opened last summer.
“All of our reservations have been sold out since Friday – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday,” said Skyler Rorabaugh, the new manager of Pikes Peak Highway. “It’s been a really big weekend, a successful weekend. Great guest experiences here. We’ve had great feedback.”
Officials also want to manage crowds at the top to spread out tours during the day and ensure everyone has a parking spot.
Rorabaugh said the weekend provided a good test for the system, and he and his staff will review its operation and look for ways to make improvements.
A maximum of 140 vehicles can have reservations before going to the summit during each period; there are 186 parking spaces at the summit, but officials are trying to limit reservations to 140 due to anticipated overlap and the inability to limit the time visitors spend at the summit – although visitors are urged to limit their two-hour stay.
The reservation system received mixed reviews from visitors on Monday, with some understanding and accepting its necessity, while others said they were unaware of it and found no information about it in online searches.
“I found out that when I googled this place, I didn’t see (the reservations link) and it wasn’t very clear that a reservation was needed,” said Debbie Sleeper, of Los Angeles. “It said it was open to anyone. So we assumed that meant we didn’t need it. It could have been clearer on the website.”
And there’s the catch – officials said a Google search yields conflicting information and the best place to get information is http://drivepikespeak.com.
Other tourists took the reservation system – and the weather – in stride as snow and ice closed the summit to drivers for much of the day on Monday before reopening at 2.30pm.
“I saw there was a big snowstorm last week, so I thought it might not clear up in time, depending on the weather,” Hector Gutierrez of Austin told Reuters. Texas. “So I knew it would be 50-50 to get to the top or not.”
However, Bobby Snyder of Los Angeles remained disappointed.
“First time here, first time in Colorado,” he said. “I haven’t heard of the summit being closed to drivers. I brought some friends with me and we’ve been planning this trip for a long time. I don’t know when I’ll be back here.”
Of course, a reservation is not very useful if the summit is closed due to weather.
Customers should contact 719-385-PEAK (7325) for up-to-date road conditions to find out how far they can travel on the freeway.
Crews had just cleared the highway to the summit after the storm two weekends ago, and the summit was open Friday through Sunday before it snowed more overnight.
By late afternoon, drivers were cleared to reach the 16-mile marker, just a few miles from the summit; only Cog Railway passengers reached the summit before 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Visitors may reschedule their reservations prior to the start of their time slot, if necessary, and refunds will be considered on an individual basis.