Plant and animal life is extensive and varied on Pikes Peak. The mountain encompasses four of the eight distinct life zones that exist in Colorado:
Before you reach the Pikes Peak Railway Depot, you are in the Eastern Plains Zone, which extends up to 6,000 ft. This zone is comprised of wildflowers and grassland and is home to many small animals like prairie dogs and rabbits..
The Depot is located at 6,571 feet. The Foothills Zone, 6,000 to 8,000 ft, is composed of small bushes and trees such as scrub oak, juniper, sagebrush, and pinion pine. Raccoons, skunks, various squirrels, deer, and an occasional bear or mountain lion can be seen in this life zone.
The Montane Zone, 8,000 to 10,000 ft, has various wildflowers and small shrubs; but large forests of pines, Douglas fir, and colorful aspen trees are predominant. Deer, elk, bear, and mountain lions can all be found at this altitude.
The Subalpine Zone (10,000 to 11,500 ft) is less hospitable. Englemann spruce, Douglas fir, and bristlecone pine comprise the area's dense forests. It is estimated that some bristlecone pine trees on Pikes Peak are over 2000 years old!
In the Alpine Zone, 11,500 ft and above, tundra composed of tiny flowers, mosses and lichen eke out a cold existence in the short growing season. The denizens of this windy zone are mainly the yellow-bellied marmot and the bighorn sheep. The marmot hibernates during the winter, while the sheep migrate to lower and more hospitable regions. Pikes Peak is home to one of Colorado's largest bighorn sheep herds, and riders on the Cog Railway frequently see many of these magnificent animals.