UN 13070 is known as “Devils Playground” for the way lightning dances and bounces about the area from rock-to-rock during alpine electrical storms. This unranked and officially un-named Thirteener could suffer in obscurity as an overlook for motorists and tourists along the Pikes Peak Toll Way if not for this simple but poignant fact: “Devils Playground” is the highpoint of Teller County, Colorado.
In fact, many hikers intent on summitting Fourteener Pikes Peak from the western slopes (“The Crags Route”) charge right through the toll-gate type feature running like a spoke down the southern slope of “Devils Playground” rushing past this county highpoint without a second thought. Sitting about 2 ¼ miles northwest of Pikes Peak, a visit to “Devils Playground” provides interesting, up-close views of the peak, though the most dramatic views are to the south, down the rarely-travelled valley of the West Fork of West Beaver Creek.
Many visitors to UN 13070 either tag the county highpoint as a side-trip during their quest for the Pikes Peak summit or scramble casually up the eastern slopes from the large dirt parking area just off the Toll Way. A trip to “Devils Playground” from the west is an enjoyable outing all by itself, however, and a worthy day’s goal.
Colorado Rank: Unranked
Prominence: 140 feet
Mountain Range: Front Range
USGS Quad: Pikes Peak
Trails Illustrated Map: #137 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City)
Rank & Prominence Source: Lists of John
“Devil’s Playground” sits in far eastern Teller County, just to the west of the line with El Paso County. Primary access roads are the Pikes Peak Toll Road (for those wanting to drive most the way to the summit), Hwy 67 to the west and Hwy 24 to both the north and east.
If accessing “Devils Playground” on foot via a hiking approach, there are no fees to access the area. The biggest red tape to be aware of is to ensure you do NOT walk along the Pikes Peak Toll Road and cross only in designated crossing zones.
For those driving up the Pikes Peak Toll Way, usage fees and curfews apply.
• Curfew: Generally speaking, the gates at the tollbooth close at 7:00 PM in the summer and 5:00 PM in the winter. Check the Pikes Peak Highway Website or call 719-385-Peak to check when the gates will be closed for the day you plan to visit.
• Fees: As of this writing, the fee for the Toll Road is $10.00 per adult (16 and over $5.00 per child (6 - 15) or total $35.00 per car. Cash and credit cards (Visa and Master Card) are accepted.
Camping & Lodging
NEARBY NATIONAL FOREST CAMPING
The National Forest Service’s Crags Campground sits on the western slope of Pikes Peak and provides a convenient campsite option for anyone visiting Devils Playground from west. This 17-site campground sits at 10,100 feet in elevation about 8 miles south of Divide.
OTHER NATIONAL FOREST CAMPING
The National Forest Service operates three general-use campgrounds in its Manitou Park Recreation Area. The Manitou Park Recreation Area is located about 5 miles north of Woodland Park along Hwy 67. Below is information about these campgrounds as provided by the Forest Service.
• South Meadows Campground: Site has 64 camp sites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 8,000' elevation. Camping season is year round with a user fee of $15.00/per night/per site. The camp-ground has paved roads. Limited sites are reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777. Reservations may be made 240 days prior to arrival and there is a reservation fee. There is also a 2-night minimum stay if your reservation is for Friday or Saturday nights.
• Colorado Campground: Site has 81 campsites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 7800' elevation. Camping season usually begins late May and runs until early September. The user fee is $15.00 per night/per site. This campground has paved roads. Limited site reservations can be made 240 days prior to arrival by calling 1-877-444-6777. There is a reservation fee. There is also a 2-night minimum stay if your reservations are for Friday or Saturday night.
• Painted Rocks Campground: Area has 18 campsites with parking areas up to 30' long within the 7800' elevation. Camping season usually begins in May and runs through early September. A user fee of $13.00 per night/per site is charged. Limited sites are reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777 and can be made 240 days prior to arrival. There is a reservation fee.
HOTELS AND LODGING
Those wanting to stay in a hotel and eat at a sit-down restaurant can find ample options in nearby Woodland Park. A few simple hotels (many family-run) are available in Woodland Park (elevation 8,465 feet) along with several RV sites and cabins. For more information visit The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information page.
Those planning to ascend “Devils Playground” via the “4 tires and a steering wheel” route can find a broad range of lodging options in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. If you are the 5-star luxury type, be sure to check out The Broadmoor.
Weather & Seasons
Devils Playground is essentially a sub-summit or buttress peak of Pikes Peak. As Pikes in the largest landmass for miles around, it is known for somewhat volatile weather. “Sunny and warm with a gentle breeze” in Colorado Springs does not always translate to the same conditions at 13,000 feet on the western slope of Pikes Peak. Check the forecast before departing for your trip and constantly take a read on the weather, noting changes and patterns.
• Summer all but guarantees dense crowds and the dreaded afternoon thunderstorm. Start your day early and anticipate sharing the mountain with plenty of folks.
• Fall means shorter days, but also less afternoon thunderstorm threat. The aspen on the lower reaches of the mountain will delight, as will the orange-tinged alpine tundra. This is the high country, however, so be alert to rapidly changing weather and snowfall, even when the weather in Colorado Springs is quite pleasant.
• Though the western slope is known by many as the “snow route” on Pikes Peak, never underestimate the capability of the flaky Colorado powder pack to hold avalanche danger. Travel during Winter and Spring, when snow is present, should be undertaken with caution. Note that on the Pikes Peak Massif, “west-facing” does not always translate into “windblown / free from loading.” In fact, the western slopes of neighboring Almagre Mountain and South Almagre regularly build up pillows of wind-loaded drifts on their western aspects just waiting for the right trigger to slide.