What do Bigfoot, “America the Beautiful,” and a hundred-year-old car and motorcycle race have in common?
Pikes Peak, the third-highest mountain in Colorado.
Sun Mountain and Sun Mountain Sitting Big were the earliest names for Pikes Peak. The Arapaho dubbed it Long Mountain. Spanish explorers gave it the title El Capitán, according to the website Visit Pikes Peak.
Eventually, it was named after Zebulon Pike, who attempted to climb the mountain in 1806 with an exploration party after the Louisiana Purchase. And for the record, there is no apostrophe in Pikes, according to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and Colorado law.
Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the first draft of “America the Beautiful” as she was on the way down from a trip to the summit. That poem would go on to become the well-known, but unofficial, national anthem.
In 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb began. Car and motorcycle drivers have been racing on the mountain for more than a century. In 2018, an electric car smashed previous time records.
But the downside of speeding around Pikes Peak is that you might miss Bigfoot. Fortunately, there are traffic signs posted to alert you to the preferred crossing spots of Sasquatch.
In early August, I drove most of the way up Pikes Peak Highway. Then my husband and I took a shuttle to the summit of the mountain which has an altitude of 14,115 feet. Although our photos don’t do it justice, here are some images of the stunning landscape.