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COVID-19 pandemic fails to lower camping interest on Pikes Peak for International Hill Climb this weekend

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Spectator camping wasn't allowed along the Pikes Peak Highway for last year's International Hill Climb because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are no lingering concerns this year as demand for campsites was high.

In fact, if you haven't reserved a campsite already, you're too late; the race website indicates that 250 campsites have sold out.

And that's at $150 per reservation.

There are four designated camping areas:  Glen Cove, the Ski Area below 12 Mile, Halfway Picnic Ground, and 9 Mile (9 Mile is tent camping only).

Campers will not be allowed onto their sites before 11 a.m. Saturday, and camping is allowed only for overnight Saturday. Officials say those rules will be strictly enforced.

The night before the race is the only time of the year that camping is allowed on the Peak.

Several groups of tourists eating lunch Friday at Halfway didn't know about -- or understand -- the camping rush.

"The city kid that I am, (camping) is not for me," said Karl Constant, of Chicago. "I wouldn't do it. I'd be happy in closed spaces, not sleeping in the wilderness where a bear could come get me."

Gina Noe, a Kentucky tourist, agreed.

"I believe that'd be a little bit going overboard for me," she said. "I believe it's a little risky. Hearing how fast they're driving and the sharp curves, I'd be a little skeptical of sitting out, to be watching it."

Colorado tour guide Michelle Draper said that she has never attended the race, but understands why the campsites sold quickly.

"We've been busy," she said. "We haven't had a problem. We've been extremely busy. I have to work sometimes like 6 or 7 days. So people are out and about, wanting to travel. They're ready to get this pandemic behind us."

Draper pans to bring her father to the Hill Climb, but camping isn't on the itinerary.

"For one night, it doesn't mean that much to me, to camp out and to drag all that stuff out," she said.

However, a campsite all but guarantees one of the best vantage points for the race -- and that's why so many campers come.

Officials said that limiting camping to one day annually, specifying only a few areas, helps reduce the impact of humans on the mountain.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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