In the late 1800s, public awareness of our nation’s natural beauty was gaining momentum. As a result, the conservation movement was born. Many people now saw the western lands not only as beautiful and expansive, but also as treasures to protect.
In 1864, the U.S. Federal government granted the Yosemite Valley to California for preservation as a state park. It then followed with protecting Yellowstone County 1872. In the 1890s and 1900s, the government added Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Glacier to the list.
At about this same time, all land grants and homesteading on Pikes Peak were suspended in preparation of creating yet another national park. By passing The Forest Reserve Act of 1891, the Pikes Peak Timber Reserve west of Colorado Springs was created. This massive area included almost the entire mountain. Soon after, additional land was added to the reserve to protect the forests along the South Platte River and the Plum Run. In 1905, under the newly created U.S. Forest Service, these areas were combined and then renamed as the Pike National Forest. However, the mountain has never been designated as a national park.
In 1915, the U.S. Forest Service allowed Spencer Penrose to complete the road to the summit. However, when the agreement ended 20 years later, the road responsibility returned to the federal government and the $2 toll was lifted. People could drive up the mountain free of charge. Unfortunately, without the maintenance afforded by the toll, the road surface deteriorated greatly. As a result, in 1948 the U.S. Forest Service issued a special-use permit to the City of Colorado Springs, which then became responsible for maintaining the road to the top. The City of Colorado Springs continues to maintain the road to this day.
In 1963, the Summit of Pikes Peak (specifically the land higher than 14,000 feet in elevation) was declared a National Historic Landmark.