JesseWolfe Reader
4/22/21 4:01 a.m.

Stars have aligned and travel to see in-laws in Colorado Springs feasible this year, and I'll be selflessly scheduling this road trip for late June.


Any tips from anyone that's been before would be helpful:  good spots to park above or around the treeline, when to be at the gate for entry, which tickets are best value for race day ( not planning on camping ), weather planning, food etc.


Pic of the Museum we went to see back in 2015.




bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/22/21 8:06 a.m.

If you aren't camping you probably won't get above the tree line. Those spots fill up super quick and there are not a lot of them. I got there at 2:30 am last time and was just above glen's cove.


Tickets are easy. There is only 2 tickets. If you are coming up in car or motorcycle. Motorcycle is a little cheaper.


Weather planning. Plan for anything. Rain and hail is possible/probable in the afternoon. 50% of the times I've been there it's done that. You will be above 10K ft so bring warm cloths. Take a change of clothes so you have something if you get wet.


Food, It's a whole day on the mountain so pack 2 meals and snacks. It's not like there are food vendors up there. 


Other than that, just be chill and relax. 



Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/22/21 8:16 a.m.

Get up to Devil's Playground if you can. Camping is really the easy way to do that - get up at 4 am (or whatever it is) and head up, then go back to sleep. Otherwise do what you've gotta do. It's the best place to watch, you can actually see the start line and a large part of the course as opposed to one or two corners.

Don't jam your car with so much stuff that it's uncomfortable. You may very well be spending an hour or two hanging out to escape the weather during the race, and of course there's before and after. We had our VW camper last time and it was like being in a 5 star hotel compared to all the poor souls huddled in single-cap pickup trucks. We had s'mores in the VW :)

Be prepared for all seasons. Sunscreen, warm clothes, rain gear. Be prepared to be on the mountain until dusk with appropriate levels of food and water - it's easy to get dehydrated at altitude. You are on your own. Also, your exit route is via the hot race track so you will not be leaving early without a helicopter.

Bring an FM radio. That's the only way you'll get any race information. And whatever it needs for batteries. Binoculars are fun if you're up at the Playground.

The higher you are on the mountain, the longer it will take to get down. There is only one road! After the race, the racers all head down slowly causing a traffic jam. Then all the fans get on the road, just in time for the racers to get to the pits and completely block all movement. It will be hours of stop and go. After our first year, I learned to stay overnight in Manitou Springs because getting back to Grand Junction on the day of the race meant driving all night.

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/22/21 8:36 a.m.

I went in 2018 I think. We got to the parking lot around 11pm and slept in the car. The lot was already half full by that time. You start driving up the mountain in the order you arrived in. The earlier you get there, the better the spot. We were able to get up to Devils Playground, arguably the best spot to spectate from. They only allow xx number of cars in each spectating area so get there early for a good spot. Don't take an RV, they're not allowed up. 

Be prepared for COLD weather. Make sure you have a full tank of gas if you need to run the engine for heat. Lots of warm clothes. A battery powered radio is great to listen to the broadcast so you know what's going on. It's a long day on the mountain so plenty of food and water is good. 

side note: A cambered bro driving up in front of us was showing off and lost it in one of the corners driving up at 4am. Sent his car into a ditch which resulted in a 45 minute delay waiting for a tow truck. Don't be that guy haha. 

calteg Dork
4/22/21 9:04 a.m.

I went in 2017 or 2018.
Bring sunscreen. Seriously.
Way more water than you think you need
You line up at the base of the mountain at 2 or 3AM and then they stagger groups to head up in the dark. It's a bit of a party atmosphere, but don't be the dumbass that gets liquored up beforehand
You're way better off renting a small van or something you can nap in. There's a good chance you'll be exhausted by the time the cars begin to run. Ideally you find a nice spot to park (which is difficult in 4AM darkness) and then sleep for a few hours
The viewing area at Devil's playground steep. It's great because there really aren't any bad views, but if you have vertigo it can mess with you.
A large pop up shade or tent is a good idea too. The weather changes really quickly, being able to keep the sun and rain off you is key

Make sure your brakes are up to snuff before the descent. They stagger you down, but it's pretty common for your brakes to catch fire if you try and ride them the entire way down

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/22/21 9:10 a.m.

If you bring a pop-up, bring rope so you can anchor it or practice taking it down in a hurry :)

The brakes on our VW got way hot on the way down trying to keep below a walking pace. Too slow for engine braking, there were no other options. I don't think I've ever had them overheat in any other situations.

Aaron_King PowerDork
4/22/21 9:33 a.m.

This is a bucket list event for me, one of these days I will make it out.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
4/22/21 10:50 a.m.

Ski area is OK too, there's a nice hairpin just below it.  Can't see much of the course from there, though.  My favorite corner is a place called Double Cut, but that was back when I was covering the event for GRM and others, I don't think "civilians" can get there unless you park at Devil's Playground and hike down past the Ws, and then you're marooned from your support stuff (shade, food, shelter, etc). Then you would have to hike back up after the race, and that's very steep and no fun at that altitude.  Definitely take binoculars for Devil's Playground.  Definitely be prepared for all types of weather, I've seen 90 degrees in the pits with a snowstorm at the summit.  Also definitely sunscreen, use it often, plenty of water.  Don't be stupid, I've seen more helicopter evacuations for spectators than for racers by far, and every one shuts down the event for a while.  Keith's advice is right on, be prepared to spend all day, you won't be getting off the mountain quickly, especially the farther up you are.  But definitely go, it's amazing.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/22/21 10:58 a.m.

About sitting in that traffic while leaving: Don't arrive at the hill with the gauge near E. 

A few years ago, friends of ours came really, really close to running out of gas while leaving the event. Sounds like a stressful time.

As other said, yeah, pack up and plan for everything. It could snow, it could be really hot. 

We should get back to it.

JesseWolfe Reader
4/22/21 11:06 a.m.

Thank's for all the tips so far.  We are road tripping from Virginia to the Springs, so we are limited on how much we can fit.  We're driving a Touareg diesel ( I can probably idle it for 48 hours on a full tank ), so interior space is decent, but I'll toss around the idea of renting a bigger van for race day.   We had already planned on grabbing some camping gear on Saturday at Walmart, or just having it shipped to the mother-in-law's house and leaving it in her crawlspace for future trips.

Rick O'Shea
Rick O'Shea New Reader
4/22/21 11:21 a.m.

I've camped twice at the Glen Cove area. I highly recommend this spot. It has some tree cover for the aforementioned foul weather inevitability. At 11,400' the altitude doesn't bother me as much as the higher locations do. There is also a short but steep hike that will take you to a vantage point my crew has named the "Eagle's Nest" where you can see about half the lower course all the way up to Devil's Playground. Here's a shot from that spot in 2017. (This was about an hour before the hail and snow moved in for the rest of the afternoon)



A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ SuperDork
4/22/21 5:06 p.m.

I went in 1995.  I think it was the only year it was cut short due to weather.  It was at the time anyway.  What I found amazing is that people from all over the world are (were too - even before the internet) familiar with the event.  But many locals in and around the Springs have never heard of it.

calteg Dork
4/23/21 8:40 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

The brakes on our VW got way hot on the way down trying to keep below a walking pace. Too slow for engine braking, there were no other options. I don't think I've ever had them overheat in any other situations.

Keith brings up a good point. Descending in traffic isn't necessarily a bad thing, the long wait times gives you a chance to throw it in park and let the brakes cool.

Also, if you're inclined to drink, you'll get drunker, faster, off fewer drinks due to the altitude. Imbibe accordingly. 

JesseWolfe Reader
4/23/21 8:47 a.m.

I've been there before, just not for the actual race, and I'm not a drinker for the most part.  I know it is a different experience, and I trusted GRM to give good advice. 


Vacation time just got approved through work.  Just nailing down an AirBnB, dog sitter for the race day, and mulling over renting a microbus or small ( 24' max per rules ) RV.


I hope to see others there!

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