Tips for Mom and Dad:
The Pikes Peak region is a high elevation destination, starting from Colorado Springs at 6,035 feet above sea level. The places you may want to explore go up from there, all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain, at over 14,000 feet! So, if you are coming from a lower elevation, it is wise to “acclimate” to being at higher elevation before taking on more strenuous or higher elevation activities. You may want to explore “town” (Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Canon City, etc.) for a couple of days before your more adventurous exploration. At the very least, take plenty of water and consider some cans of oxygen, available at local retailers, in case you or a family member shows signs of altitude sickness.
Prepare with the “Five Fundamentals”:
HYDRATION — NUTRITION — PROTECTION — NAVIGATION — MITIGATION.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a simple guide in our Parent Checklist. Click on the image below to view, print, or download the checklist. Please note that every outdoor adventure is different and you may need additional items.
What to Bring for the Kiddos
- Layered clothing. In Colorado, a sunny morning could end in a hail storm. Avoid cotton – look for moisture-wicking materials (poly blends, nylon, fleece…). Adding or removing layers keeps kids from being soaked with sweat or rain, and from becoming too hot or too cold.
- Rain gear. For the same reason – the unexpected shower.
- Sun Protection. Even cloudy or snowy days at high elevation can result in sunburns. Hats with brims and sunscreen are a must. Sunglasses for the kids are also a plus.
- Proper Footwear. Nothing ruins a trip quicker than blisters. Also watch out for cactus (yep, even at high elevation), and rocks and pine needles. Well-fitting hiking shoes with closed toes and non-cotton socks are a must.
- Keep their energy and spirits up with both yummy and healthy snacks. Some good ones include:
- Trail mix – their choice of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds
- Energy chews, bars, or powder for their water bottle
- Squeezable apple sauce
- Their favorite cereal
- Emergency Contact Info. For younger kiddos, write down your name, address, and cell phone number and put in plastic bag or laminate and attach to their pack or jacket.
- Packs and carriers. Taking an infant on a hike will generally require a carrier comfortable for both baby and parent. There are some trails wide and flat enough for strollers – just make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time or use our Guide. (Link) A child-sized backpack or string bag is a great way to get the kids excited about your adventure, and they can help carry some of their personal items, including a water bottle or small hydration bladder.
- Wet wipes. These multi-purpose wipes, especially anti-bacterial ones, are great when Jr. picks up items that are sticky (pine needles), plays in the stream, or wipes dirt on his face.
- Trash bag. You’ll want to pack out what you pack in. With snack wrappers, waste from lunch, wipes, etc. you’ll be glad you thought to bring a small bag for trash.
Also not a bad idea…
Bring along extra clothes and snacks to leave in the car for the trip home.
Toys for Your Kids When Hiking
This is where your creativity comes in, and we have included some activities to help make your outing both fun and educational!
Your kids may beg you to bring their favorite toys. Little ones may want their stuffed animals; older kids may want games and technology. Taking one or two small stuffed animals may be a good idea to keep the little ones happy exploring. In fact, we encourage you to take Palmer the Pika on your adventures and take selfies with him that you can later post to the Pikes Peak Outdoors Instagram or Facebook social media accounts!
Technology certainly has its place when used to help youth engage with nature, not distract from it. Downloading nature apps in advance may help older kids connect and some nature centers and parks incorporate technology into their self-guided tours.
Whenever possible, encourage the kids to use their imagination and their senses to look for wildlife and play with the natural world – sticks, pine cones, rocks, and creeks.