Make reservations now for popular Colorado summer attractions

Colorado’s most popular summer attractions like Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park require reservations. Plan your visit now.
May 11, 2022
A mountain goal kid on Mount Evans. It's one of the popular summer destinations in Colorado that requires reservations. Photo by Matt Inden/Miles Image, courtesy of The Colorado Tourism Office.
A baby mountain goat on Mount Evans. It’s one of the popular summer destinations in Colorado that requires reservations. Photo by Matt Inden/Miles Image, courtesy of The Colorado Tourism Office.

Some of Colorado’s most popular summer attractions require reservations. Now is the perfect time to make plans if you want to enjoy these popular destinations. If you go, be sure to respect the beauty and serenity of Colorado’s wild places. Always leave no trace and be kind when you’re in nature.

Pikes Peak

Colorado’s most famous 14,000-foot peak has both a road and a cog rail line to the summit. Of course, if you are super fit, you can also hike or cycle to the top of this peak, which tops out 14,115 feet above sea level.

Colorado Springs is home to Garden of the Gods in the foreground and PIkes Peak in the background. Reservations are required to drive up Pikes Peak.
Colorado Springs is home to popular summer attractions, including Garden of the Gods in the foreground and Pikes Peak in the background. Reservations now are required to drive up Pikes Peak. Photo by Rick DuVal.

Regardless of which transportation method you choose, you’ll want to plan ahead.

Starting this summer, reservations are required if you wish to drive to the top of Pikes Peak and park at the summit. Reservations are required from Memorial Day through the end of September. Learn more about making reservations. Find answers to frequently asked questions.

You’ll also want to make reservations in advance if you plan to ride the rail line to the top.

Learn more about buying tickets to ride the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

At the top, visitors will find the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center.

Mount Evans

Colorado has another 14,000-foot peak with a road to the top: Mount Evans. This road takes you even higher than the route to the summit of Pikes Peak. Mount Evans tops out at 14,264 feet, making this highway the highest paved road in North America.

You will also need reservations to drive up to the Mount Evans summit. Visitors can also enjoy stops at Mount Goliath Nature Center and Summit Lake Park. The Mount Evans Road is also one of Colorado’s Scenic & Historic Byways. Read more about these stunning routes from the plains to the peaks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Making reservations for Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park. A photo of The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth
Reservations are required to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. The Loch is one of the most popular alpine lakes to hike to in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth.

One of the most visited national parks in the country is also Colorado’s oldest national park. Established back in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to another 14-er, Longs Peak and many other spectacular peaks. The park attracts more than 4.4 million people a year. Another famous Scenic Byway, Trail Ridge Road, takes visitors from Estes Park on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake on the west side. Trail Ridge Road leads visitors to mesmerizing high-altitude vistas.

Due to high demand, reservations are required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park during the peak season from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-October. To purchase your timed entry pass, visit Recreation.org.

Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells reflected in an alpine lake. Maroon Bells, like many popular summer destinations in Colorado requires reservations. Photo by Matt Inden/Miles Image, courtesy of the The Colorado Tourism Office.
Maroon Bells reflected in an alpine lake. Maroon Bells, like many popular summer destinations in Colorado, requires reservations. Photo by Matt Inden/Miles Image, courtesy of The Colorado Tourism Office.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Maroon Bells or have seen photos of this pair of iconic red bell-shaped peaks near Aspen. Their claim to fame is some of the most photographed mountains in North America. The peaks are 14-ers but are dangerous to climb, except for very experienced mountaineers. Even so, the valley that is home to these showy peaks, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, is extremely popular, so much so that you must have reservations to visit the area between mid-May and late October.

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is a popular hiking spot near Boulder and Denver that requires reservations. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth.
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is a popular hiking spot near Boulder and Denver that requires reservations. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth.

One of the most popular wilderness areas in the country lies west of Denver and Boulder. Due to its beauty and proximity to large metropolitan areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area now requires reservations both for day hiking and for camping.

The parking areas at Brainard Lake and Long Lake are excellent gateways for beautiful hikes in the summer and fall. It’s one of the most popular places in Colorado to hike with dogs. (Be sure to keep your dog on leash.) As with all high-altitude hikes, check the weather in advance and bring plenty of food, water, rain gear and extra clothing. You’ll start at about 10,000 feet above sea level and will venture higher in altitude if you’re planning any hikes.

The Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline, a popular destination in Colorado Springs that requires reservations.
Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado, is not only a tourist attraction but also a workout attraction for locals. Reservations are required. Photo: Getty Images.

One of Colorado’s most popular places to test your physical fitness lies just west of Colorado Springs in Manitou Springs.

The Manitou Incline is an advanced, very steep hike up an old railroad bed. For hearty hikers and runners, the incline boasts 2,744 steps straight up. Incline enthusiasts gain nearly 2,000 vertical feet over less than one mile.

The trail has become so popular that reservations for the Manitou Incline are now required.

Hanging Lake

One of Colorado’s most popular hikes leads to a serene lake in Glenwood Canyon. Because Hanging Lake has garnered so much attention, the U.S. Forest Service created a reservation system to hike or bike to Hanging Lake. For now, Hanging Lake is closed due to damage to the trail from recent wildfires. Stay tuned to learn if Hanging Lake will reopen to visitors.

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.

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