A Happy Camper

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.Summit Lake

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.

tallest paved road in North America

Ingrid, Al, Ashton, and Logan at the top of Mt. Evans

Mt.Evans

Mount Evans

this road is damaged in quite a few areas due to the extreme weather

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.

Be warned - this drive is not for the faint of heart

Be warned – this drive is not for the faint of heart

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.

Mount Evans

folks can be seen hiking from the parking lot to the top. Our family photo was taken at the top of those boulders. Can you see the little specs of people?

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.

In the photo below, we can see Summit Lake under Ashton’s pink shoe.Mt. Evans

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.

that's enough kids.... don't you dare push each other!!!

that’s enough kids…. don’t you dare push each other!!!

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!

Marmot

Even Mr. Marmot enjoys the views

MarmotMt. EvansAfter photo ops at the top of Mount Evans, we slowly drove back down to Summit Lake for some hiking.

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.Chicago Lakes

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!

Mount Evans

The Chicago Lakes Trail is on a high ledge

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.

Patches of snow still present in August

Patches of snow still present in August

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.mountain goatsMt. EvansLast 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.Mt. EvansSummit LakeFor anyone planning on driving America’s tallest paved road to the top of Mt. Evans, here’s a few of my recommendations and info.

  1. Start early. Storms roll in every afternoon as well as the number of cyclists and general tourist traffic increases as the day progresses.
  2. 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.
  3. Narrow road, damaged road, and severe drop-offs with no guard rails exist.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)
  7. Altitude; drink lots of water to avoid altitude sickness, dress in layers, and hopefully you don’t suffer from a fear of heights.

Mt. Evans

I’m not sure what it is about Mount Evans that captivates me, but it does and I’m hoping to take in at least one more trip to the top before I head south for the winter.Echo Lake
Echo Lake
Chicago Lakes
Summit Lake
mountain goats

Mount Evans

this road suffers regular damage from the extreme weather

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67 thoughts on “A Happy Camper

  1. I drove to the top of Mt Evans in July 2012. It was a little scary but so worth the drive. We were fortunate to see the mountain goats out in mass. Glad you got to enjoy the trip with your children.

    • Yes, definitely worth it and the drive gets a little easier with subsequent visits. I’m afraid those goats will have me returning each summer 🙂

    • Now that would’ve been a ‘trip’. Nope, no RV’s on that road. Gosh, we wouldn’t even want to take the F250 as things do get a little tight at the top with no room to spare. It’s a looong way down 🙂

  2. You must be high. 🙂 Loved the sibling rival shot, Mr. Mamot, and the nature sceneries at the end. Active family you got there, Ingrid. What would you say your three recommended places in Colorado? Just in case I plan to go.

    • Gosh, it would hard to narrow down, but for a youngen like you, I would recommend Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Mt. Evans. That makes a nice triangle with lots to see and do all within less than 90 miles of each other.

  3. Family time is the best–especially when your family is scattered about the country. Lovely photos. The high mountain lake pictures look a lot like Alaska. If you decide on a trip up there, I can recommend some wonderful day hikes.

    • Thank you. We’ve talked about doing the whole Alaska trip/drive, but hubby isn’t as keen about it as me – he’s already spent a fair amount of time in Alaska. So we’ll see. It is great getting the family together 🙂

  4. What a beautiful area! I’ve been close to mountain sheep before, but never goats, they always seemed much more wary than sheep. It’s no wonder that you keep going back there, I would too.

    • I’m hoping to get in another visit before it gets too cold with hopes of encountering the mountain goats again. I have a feeling winter may start showing up early this year 🙂

  5. Thank you for the great pics of Mt. Evans. It must have been great to have your son with you again. We just left Glacier NP after spending two weeks coming in daily from West Glacier. We LOVE that park and I’d like to try hiking up in the Mt. Evans area, as well. Thanks for the info.

    • Glacier is so stunning. I’d like to get back there for a lengthy stay to explore. It was wonderful having the family together and fun visiting such a beautiful spot like Mt. Evans. I think you would enjoy it as well 🙂

  6. Whoa–that is HIGH elevation hiking. I’m not sure I could comfortably drive that road. Probably better if I was driving (as you said) but I’m still not sure I could do it. I’d be white-knuckling it, that’s for sure. (Pathetic, I know.) But it sure looks like you had a wonderful time with your whole family — how fun that all of you love sharing outdoor adventures! 🙂

    • The drive is pretty intense but so worth it. The hiking actually makes me more nervous. Some of the trails we saw are literally ledges with no room for error. It was a great day 🙂

  7. Great shots Ingrid and glad you finally made it up the mountain. It’s so great all of you can get together. I can’t remember the last time for us and doubt it wall happen again until one of us dies 🙂

    • Thanks Larry. it’s been great having the four of us together. I sure hope it won’t take a funeral to get all your family together 🙂

  8. So glad the whole family was able to get together, heard that CO was getting a bit more rain and a little cooler than usual.

    • It’s 90 degrees again today so temps have been warm most of the summer in the Denver area but definitely a lot more moisture. Creeks are running full and fast as if it was early June. The moisture is good for wildfire season.
      Always fun times when the family gathers 🙂

  9. Right about now that temp sounds heavenly! We are in Glasgow, MT and the temp is 94 at this time. Thank goodness is dry. We knew our perfect temps of the last weeks were going to leave us. Hopefully for just a few days as we arrive in East Glacier Friday:)

    How nice for you to have both children together at one time and doing something you love! Your photos are just gorgeous. I really love Mr Marmot. What a super pose! Too bad the mountain goats wouldn’t cooperate. Thanks for resharing last years photos.

    • Ah, beautiful Glacier – you should come across some comfortable temps and stunning scenery. I look forward to your hikes as I know I can count on you to scope out some great ones.
      It’s been fun having us all together and the week went by way too quickly 🙂

  10. Beautiful family and great post..I am not a fan of high places and wouldn’t get NEAR the edge of those rocks..but the views from the top are spectacular! We drove up Pike’s Peak once…and once was enough for me. On the way down we had to pull over and cool down our brakes…that was many moons ago, before Rving..Your children are gorgeous…family is what it’s all about!!

    • Thank you Donna. I hear the Pike’s Peak drive is much more challenging than Mt. Evans so you tackled the toughest. The first time I drove Mt. Evans it was a white knuckler for me but this time went much easier and I don’t seem to mind these roads as long as I’M driving 😉
      Yep, family time is the best 🙂

  11. What a great family adventure, Ingrid. Congrats on your two successful and good looking offspring. I love the photo of them goofing around on that rock, but I bet you were holding your breath at the time. That’s a great close-up you got of the billy goat last year. I really enjoyed my armchair visit to Mount Evans. 🙂

    • Thanks Sylvia. I was really disappointed the goats weren’t close but it was so cold that I’m not sure it would’ve been as much fun to sit and observe them as it was last year. Thank goodness my kids where merely posing on my behalf as they were perched on that rock…. it was a long way down.

  12. I may not be a mother but I felt your happiness. Family reunion is always a must and it always a great gathering. Lovely family photo! and of course thank you for taking us to the top of Mt Evans. We will keep heed of your warnings, when the time comes.

    • There’s some great hiking up there that you and Steve would definitely enjoy. Logan and I were going to go back the next day to do a serious hike but ended up going into the city. It was really special to have us all together for the week. Now I need to see if I can manage a winter reunion 🙂

  13. Your post makes me want to come out and visit Colorado! What beautiful country it is. I’m not sure I would want to attempt that road in my big wide dually truck…it looks like it is more comfortably managed in a diminutive sedan. Perhaps when I get out that way I would rent a smaller car for that drive.

    • Colorado offers some of the most stunning scenery and I would highly recommend a summer visit. Yes you would be wise not to attempt Mt. Evans with the dually – at least the first time. Folks do it and that doesn’t leave much room for the rest of us lol.

  14. That’s one good looking family! This post brought back memories of our drive up Mt Evans. Mike felt the altitude (probably because he didn’t drink water) and I certainly experienced a fear of heights while driving on that frightening road! We saw the goats and badgers, too. I loved that. So glad you got to enjoy that wonderful family time. Now that all my kiddies have returned home, I’ll be updating my blog very soon. Take care and talk to you later!

    • I look forward to all your updates. I’m sure you had a wonderful time with family. That Mt. Evans drive is definitely not for the faint of heart but worth experiencing at least once. For me, I’ll keep going back as long as I’M the driver 😉 One can never have too many photos of Mountain Goats, Marmots or mountain scenery!

  15. With family so important to us, we are thrilled to read that y’all were able to spend some wonderful time together making so many unforgettable memories. What a lovely family photo.

    The Mr. Marmot photo is priceless. Well, let me rephrase that….all the photos are priceless.

    I am sure we won’t be in that area again, so thank for sharing that gorgeous mountain and all the beauty that lies within.

    • Thank you Marsha and yes we treasure our family time. That marmot photo was another one of my special captures using the ‘point and pray’ method of photography – lucky shot.
      I was thinking of you on the drive up to Mt. Evans. The Moki Dugway is just an average every day road in comparison to the Mt. Evans road…. talk about a white knuckle drive that would make you sooooo uncomfortable. Thus, probably a good idea you won’t be taking it LOL.

  16. Awesome job on this post, and as usual, your pics are fabulous! We want to make this drive if/when we make it to the area, and your information will be so nice to refer back to, for sure. It is beautiful there, and I’m sure having both of your kids with you was such a treat. I can definitely relate. 😉

    • I’m sure you can relate and I hope you’re able to make the family get together happen in CO next summer. There’s something for everyone to enjoy and the scenery is spectacular. If I could only do one drive; the Mt. Evans road vs. the Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mtn NP, I’d probably pick Mt. Evans. Less people, more dramatic, equally beautiful 🙂

  17. The views are fabulous and your photos are breathtaking Ingrid! So good to have the whole family in one place…a happy camper indeed! 🙂

  18. Such an awesome hike. Glad you were able to get the fam together. It gets harder every year to get everyone together. . Sigh.
    Chicago Tail, huh! ? Awesome! I love the goats. I call them Capricorns, as I am one. 🐐 ha!

    • Funny – hiking the ‘Chicago Lakes Trail’ in Colorado. Amazing scenery unlike anything in Illinois that’s for sure. I’m already contemplating another trip up the mountain in search of those goats aka Capricorns LOL.

  19. WOW – great views and time to gather as a family… we’ve had lots of family time this summer and it has been great to get together and have fun… I remember moving away form my mom and dad and the time when we got together was always special. Glad you were able to corral your Buff and Ram for a little sibling rivalry…have a great day and wonderful week – looking forward to reading the baseball post! and it’s football season or soon will be GO BRONCOS!

    • Seems like you’ve been having a great time up at the cabin on the lake. That family time is most definitely special. The day we went to the baseball game, the Broncos were playing that evening and won – Go Broncos! Oh, and the Rockies lost to the Cubs 😦

  20. I am so happy you have both your kids together! And, that you finally made it to Mt Evans. I totally understand about getting the kids together and how wonderful it is when it happens…. Having our son on the east coast and our daughter on the west coast, we don’t get the kids and grandkids in the same place often. I am looking forward to a week at the beach with them all, and hoping for good weather! And, I made a note add Mt Evans to my “Next time in Colorado list”! I loved your photos…

    • Oh how exciting getting everyone together at the beach. I’m sure you’ll have great weather. One could spend the entire summer in Colorado and still not experience it all. So I’m sure you’ll be back next summer to take in more of this beautiful state 🙂

  21. Loved seeing your family after hearing about them last week. That was some rainstorm on Thursday wasn’t it! We had tickets to the game also, but went to the Chihuly instead – what an experience! Thanks for taking us to the top of Mt. Evans, another place we didn’t make this trip. Its on the list for next year.

    Sue

    • Yes it was quite a storm. While you were at the Botanic Garden we were at the Rockies game. Typical Colorado weather. An hour later the sun was back out. Hopefully by the time I head south for the winter, my posts will give you enough ideas to keep you very occupied next summer in the Denver metro area. Mt. Evans is a MUST 🙂

  22. Stunning photos Ingrid and how wonderful that you could share the experience with your family. So special to have them together! Great capture of the mountain goats and the marmot. 🙂

    • I’m sure you can relate to how special it is to be able to get the family together. It’s not always easy with work schedules and distances. I foresee another trip up the mountain is necessary for more goat and marmot photos but I assure you a winter coat will accompany me on any future excursion 🙂

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