Pikes Peak Summit House – Cascade, Colorado - Gastro Obscura

Pikes Peak Summit House

Cascade, Colorado

Thanks to a quirk of elevation this gift shop produces magic doughnuts that are found nowhere else on Earth. 


America’s highest deep fryer sits in the Pikes Peak Summit House, churning out hundreds of strange donuts each day that must be eaten at the summit elevation lest they spoil in the thicker air below.

Pikes Peak, which sits at 14,115 feet above sea level, was written about by Zebulon Pike during one of his expeditions in 1806 and it was called El Capitan by previous Spanish explorers. The peak’s first recorded ascent was by Edwin James in 1820. Now, climbing this mountain can be as simple as driving up the Pikes Peak Highway, catching a ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or hiking the 12.6 mile Barr Trail from Manitou Springs. Once at the top, visitors are greeted by the Pikes Peak Summit House, a restaurant and gift shop that offers donuts unlike any on lower ground. 

While most of the summit house’s fare is standard roadside attraction bric-a-brac, the altitude, and its considerably thinner air have a dramatic effect on the boiling point of water, which allows them to offer their unique baked good. Due to the lower air pressure, water has a much lower boiling point, meaning food needs to be cooked differently, and the summit house has been using a special recipe since 1916 to produce uniquely fried donuts close to the cloud layer. It is also said that the pastries don’t taste the same if they are not eaten there on the summit.

The majesty of Pikes Peak should be enough of a spectacle for guests, but that is only if they can quit stuffing their face with magic mountain donuts to notice.

Know Before You Go

Make sure that your car does not overheat. Going up the mountain do not use A/C, go slow, low gears.

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