Our son flew into Denver from Phoenix last Wednesday. It’s been almost 2 years since our little family of four has been together. So you can imagine, I’ve been one very happy mom lately aka one happy camper with a perpetual smile plastered across my face.
Thursday found us attending a Rockies baseball game that was delayed 45 minutes due to a rain storm or rather a thunder and lightning storm. I’ll write a post about that game later. For now I want to share our trip up to Mount Evans… one of my favorite places in Colorado; right up there with Crested Butte or the San Juan Mountains.
After two failed attempts this summer to drive to the top of Mt. Evans, I finally made it on Friday. I guess third try was a charm.
We left the RV at 8:30 a.m. with a full tank of gas and cooler filled with drinks, lunch, and snacks. It’s crucial to drink plenty of water when visiting an elevation of 14,265 feet (4,348m) to help avoid experiencing any altitude issues.
Our son, Logan, grew up in Colorado but now calls Phoenix, Arizona, home and has for the past five years. He’s young and fit but even he got winded as we hiked from the parking lot at 14,130 feet to the top of the boulders at 14,265 feet.
The altitude didn’t stop the sibling rivalry between a Colorado State University ‘Ram’ and a University of Colorado ‘Buff’ (Buffalo). CSU and CU have had a long-standing rivalry and it’s a big deal when these two universities face off in a football game. So big, that the game is even held at the Broncos stadium; Sports Authority Field Mile High Stadium in Denver.
Both kids received a bachelor’s degree in Business. Our son from CU in Boulder and our daughter from CSU in Fort Collins. Ah, yes…. a proud mom!
But before I go any further, I need to admit…. we were fricken freezing our buns off.
We were all bundled up in sweatshirts that we then took off for the photo ops. The winds were blowing, gusting, and howling…. I swear I’m not exaggerating… it was cold and unpleasant.
The photo of the thermometer was posted on a building near the restrooms at the top of Mount Evans. It wasn’t too bad when the wind wasn’t gusting, but boy those winds were nasty. So bad, that the kids were afraid my camera sitting on the tripod was going to get blown over.
Near Summit Lake are some trail heads. The hike I was most interested in was the Chicago Lakes trail. This former Chicago gal hiking in Colorado to a place called Chicago Lakes – funny!
I was really hoping as the day progressed it would start warming up, but no such luck. Ominous clouds started rolling in obscuring the warm sunshine. The winds increased, the sky darkened, and the clouds threatened to let loose. It was a unanimous decision to forgo any hiking and head down the mountain to a lower elevation in search of warmer temps.
When Ashton and I visited last summer, it was a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only was I somewhat disappointed with the weather this trip, I was also disappointed the mountain goats weren’t nearby. We did see them feeding on the side of the mountain but they were too far away for me to capture a nice photo. Here’s some photos of the goats from last summer and you can read about that trip here.Last year, the mountain goats were near the parking lot and I managed to get quite close. This year, I think they stayed on the side of the mountain that was blocked by the blustering wind. Smart animals. Oh well, I guess I’ll just need to revisit again.For anyone planning on driving America’s tallest paved road to the top of Mt. Evans, here’s a few of my recommendations and info.
- Start early. Storms roll in every afternoon as well as the number of cyclists and general tourist traffic increases as the day progresses.
- The road gets more narrow the higher in elevation you get making it more of a challenge to share the road with oncoming traffic AND cyclists.
- Narrow road, damaged road, and severe drop-offs with no guard rails exist.
- It’s not uncommon for the temperature to be 20 degrees or more cooler than in Denver and/or be covered in rain clouds while Denver is blanketed in sunshine.
- There are two ways to access Highway 5 (the road to the top) off Interstate 70. Twice I’ve driven to the town of Idaho Springs then caught 103 to 5. There is serious tunnel construction near Idaho Springs. To avoid the construction on this trip, I exited the interstate in the town of Evergreen then caught 103. This was a very pretty drive with little traffic and will now be my preferred route.
- There is a $10 fee to drive to the top of Mt. Evans. If you want to go only as far as Summit Lake for hiking, the fee is $5. (since this is Federal land it’s free for those of a ‘certain age’ holding the senior pass)
- Altitude; drink lots of water to avoid altitude sickness, dress in layers, and hopefully you don’t suffer from a fear of heights.