Food News

The Doughnuts at Pikes Peak Summit House Rise to the Occasion

Pikes Peak is a top tourist attraction in Colorado. Every year more than 600,000 people visit the Pikes Peak Summit House, a National Historic Landmark, arriving via the Pikes Peak Highway, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or the Barr or Crags hiking trails. And what do they find on top of this 14,115 (or 14,110, depending on what sign you're reading)-foot-high peak?

The world's best doughnuts — or at least "World Famous Donuts," as a large sign at the Summit House promises.

Colorado Springs, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and Colorado Springs Utilities, is now considering how to create a new Summit Visitor Center on the site, along with a plant building, the CSU Communications Facility and High-Altitude Research Laboratory, on a second site. Last night the city held a public hearing to discuss possible plans for the Pikes Peak Summit Complex. The doughnuts did not play a big part in the discussion, but they should. Here's the deal:

Doughnuts have been served on the summit for more than a century. After the Army abandoned its weather station on the top of Pikes Peak in 1888, the mayor of Manitou Springs moved in, selling coffee and doughnuts to tourists. The arrangement became more formal in the current Summit House, where bakers use a very specific high-altitude formula to overcome the challenges of creating a cake doughnut above 14,000 feet. "Even with the high altitude at the top of Pikes Peak, the lines here can get long," advises the Colorado Springs visitors' site. "The recipe is top-secret and wasn’t even shared when filming on location for a Food Network special featuring high-altitude sweets."

You can snag one, wrapped in wax paper, for just a buck. Of course, you can enjoy such typical tourist fare as hot dogs and fudge, too.

Want to weigh in on the future of the Pikes Peak Summit House? You can take the survey, but fair warning: No mention of doughnuts here, either.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun