For those who enjoy rail travel, spectacular scenery, and the thrill of mountain climbing without all the work, this is the trip to take. The first passenger train climbed 14,110-foot Pikes Peak on June 30, 1891, and diesel slowly replaced steam power between 1939 and 1955. Four custom-built Swiss twin-unit rail cars, each seating 216 passengers, went into service in 1989.

Passengers really begin to ooh and aah when the track leaves the forest, creeping above timberline at about 11,500 feet. The view from the summit takes in Denver, 75 miles north; New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo range, 150 miles south; the Cripple Creek mining district, on the mountain’s western flank; wave after wave of Rocky Mountain subranges to the west; and the seemingly endless sea of Great Plains to the east. Up top, watch for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and yellow-bellied marmots. The Summit House at the top of Pikes Peak has a restaurant and a gift shop.

Take a jacket or sweater—it can be cold and windy on top, even on warm summer days. The round trip requires 3 hours and 10 minutes (including a 40-min. stopover at the top) and is not recommended if you have cardiac or respiratory problems—even those in good health may feel lightheaded.