A once in a lifetime opportunity is at hand to redesign and replace the Summit House on top of “Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain.” When the existing Summit House was built fifty years ago, more “utilitarian” objectives ruled, such that shelter, curios and food, especially the famous “donuts,” were most important. Today, many visitors to the Peak have different objectives: seeking enjoyment of nature when they visit outdoor interpretive centers and distancing themselves from some aspects of commercialization. The top of Pikes Peak and its new Summit House can become a carefully integrated fabric of nature and trails alongside structures and transportation. This is our Advocates Group’s overarching goal.
Iconic in its grandeur, Pikes Peak serves as the backdrop to Colorado Springs and beckons as a pathway to millions of acres of recreation, tourism and open space. Thus, it deserves a new Crown to replace the existing Summit House that was built in 1963, the most recent in a series of buildings servicing summit visitors since the original Army Signal Station was erected in 1872. Fifty years of heavy use have resulted in a worn out and inappropriate building that barely meets current needs, let alone the needs projected for the next five decades. There are some 5 million visitors per year to El Paso and Teller Counties and 500,000 reach the summit of Pikes Peak. A careful and unique replacement of the Summit House and mountain top, already an important economic driver, can increase regional and Peak visits. Our community can make a striking statement about how Colorado Springs values, develops and protects one of nature’s wonders that we have been entrusted to manage and safeguard: the easternmost 14,000 foot peak in the Rocky Mountains, first made famous in the 1850s “Pikes Peak or Bust” movement west.
Our Advocates Group believes that this project to simultaneously build a new Summit House and create harmony with other uses at the top offers our community a challenging and exciting opportunity to bring about world-renowned results. We are aware how complex this effort will be, with many local, regional and national governmental agencies involved alongside commercial enterprises generating tourism dollars and recreationists seeking access to the beauties of nature. These agencies include the US Department of Interior’s National Park Service that manages the terrain above 14,000 feet on Pikes Peak under a 1965 National Historic Landmark designation. The US Forest Service grants the 30 year lease to the City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department’s wholly owned enterprise, “Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain,” to operate the Summit House, Pikes Peak Highway (dating back to 1901), and Crystal Reservoir and Glen Cove concessions. Meanwhile, the Cog Railway, dating back to 1891, terminates near the Summit House.
The objectives of APPSH include the mobilization of public opinion to the greatest extent possible in the planning and design phase of the process, and to maintain a good working relationship with the government agencies charged with the task of implementing this historic endeavor.