The Pikes Peak Cog Railway offers transportation to the top of 14,115-foot Pike's Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado, in winter and summer. It takes a little more than three hours to travel the 8.9 miles of track, winding through canyons, forests and past Minnehaha Falls.
Passengers ride along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon for the first part of the trip. In addition to following the winding water, the train passes giant boulders and stands of Colorado blue spruce and Ponderosa pines. After passing through Hell's Gate and Deer Park, the track gets even steeper at the Big Hill. At that point, Pike's Peak is in full view.
As the train clears the timberline, the valley below comes into full view. This part of the trip is over alpine tundra, which limits the vegetation to mosses, grasses and flowers. Bighorn sheep live at this altitude, as do yellow-bellied marmots. At the top of Pike's Peak, passengers have roughly 30 minutes to explore the area. The Summit House has restrooms and a small food counter.
The trains run in winter, but during January and February, they usually only go to Inspiration Point, at an elevation of 11,500 feet. Another popular winter ride is the Santa Train, which makes a two-hour round trip journey. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves hand out cookies and hot chocolate at the one-hour stop at Four-Mile Siding.