After a snowy March kept crews from working on the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex for all but five out of 20 days, workers are on a tight timeline to open the new attraction by the end of May as planned.
"Any weather delays will impact that," said Jack Glavan, manager of Pikes Peak.
But construction is in final stages with main rooms getting their finishing touches after construction started in late 2019, he said.
"It’s really exciting to see it," Glavan said.
The new Summit House, expected to cost between $60 to $65 million, will better accommodate the more than half a million visitors who visit the mountain top each year than the previous one. It will also offer an interactive indoor exhibit gallery and interpretive trails around the summit that will describe the views and share stories about the peak’s history.
Demolishing the former Summit House is among the final construction steps and got started Tuesday. The work is expected to last two weeks as long as it's not delayed by high winds, Glavan said.
“The former house had dutifully served its purpose for almost 60 years,” spokeswoman Vanessa Zink said. “It was time to rebuild and refresh.”
The site of the former summit house will be replaced, in part, by parking lot space and the eastern overlook, Glavan said. Overlooks will be part of the new raised trail system intended to keep visitors off the delicate tundra when they visit.
At least two of the familiar touches from the older building will be available in the new complex, Zink said. The decorative plaque that was previously located in the former overlook area honoring Katharine Lee Bates’ poem “America the Beautiful” -- inspired by her 1893 visit to the summit -- has been kept and will be placed on the new eastern overlook.
“And yes, there will be donuts,” Zink said, referring to the signature baked goods that have been a Summit House staple since the visitors' center was built. “For the first time, there will be toppings and seasonings available, but those are optional. You will still be able to get the classic donut.”
Once the Summit House opens, crews are expected to keep working on the outdoor landscaping and parking lot paving, which is expected to wrap up around Labor Day, Glavan said.
Fundraising for the new Summit House is also likely to continue after the opening, Glavan said. So far, donors have contributed $12.5 million of the $15 million goal.
"We think with the opening of the building people may want to continue to participate," he said.
As part of the effort, donors have sponsored all but about 30 of 300 planks used in the new raised walkways, he said. The planks cost about $500 to sponsor, he said.
The summit is closed to all vehicle and foot traffic until May 23 as heavy equipment operators clear boulders from the site to prepare for grading and paving work. Visitors will still be able to park at Devils Playground and hike various trails, but they should plan to hike back down via the Barr Trail or the Crags Trail, a news release stated.
To give to the new Summit House campaign visit givetopikespeak.org