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Trips : Colorado : Mount Evans

One of the many interesting places to visit right in the Denver area is Mount Evans. It's a short drive west into the mountains on I-70, and the exit to take is clearly marked. Why would you want to go? Mount Evans is home to the highest paved road in the country. You can drive within a few hundred feet of the summit of a 14,000+ feet high mountain. Seriously! Quoting from the brochure:

"The road to Mount Evans began in 1915 as part of the Peak to Peak Highway, a road system that would connect Longs Peak to Mount Evans and Pikes Peak. The dream of linking these three 14,000-foot peaks by roadway proved unfeasible at the time.

Today, the Mount Evans road remains the highest paved automobile route in North America. Only 50 miles from Denver, the roadway crests at nearly three times that city's 5,280-foot elevation.

In 1991, the road was designated a Colorado State Scenic and Historic Byway. It was named a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1993. The trip is an unforgettable experience.

The highest continuous paved road in the country is Trail Ridge Road in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. The road up to the summit is a dead-end. But don't let that stop you.

"Mountain Goats on Mount Evans"
Mount Evans, Colorado
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One of my favorite parts of the Mount Evans drive is the mountain goats. There is a herd of goats that lives on the slopes of the mountain, and since the road winds around on several different sides of the mountain the odds of seeing them are pretty good. Interestingly enough, the goats apparently are not native to the area. They were introduced sometime between 1948 and 1972. They seem quite adjusted to the environment as they have thrived ever since.

"Among the Goats"
Mount Evans, Colorado

On this day, the situation was great! We were able to stake out a position on the mountain and watch the goats walk right by us. (Note: don't approach the wildlife, and certainly don't feed them. Let them stay wild.) First there is a shot of my Dad; I think he's grinning because he has the wrong lens. No need for a telephoto zoom when the goats come that close!

"Pip and the Goats"
Mount Evans, Colorado

Later on the goats walked by where Mom and I were sitting. Mom got some good pictures also, but at the moment she is trying to keep her dog Pip from chasing the mountain goats. Or maybe it is the other way around. I think it is a really fun picture; even got an approaching thunderstorm in the background.

By the way, park rules require that pets be under control at all times. This is as much for the safety of the pet as for the wildlife.

Want to see more goats? We have a whole page dedicated to goats in our Theme area. If you want, you can take a look.

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Mount Evans, Colorado
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High on the slopes of Mount Evans is one of my favorite trees. Every time that I go on the mountain I make sure that I stop and take a picture... rain or shine. This particular day was raining, but I got out of the car anyway. I took my rain poncho and draped it over the camera on the tripod, and snapped a few pictures. The halo behind the tree is the sun trying to work its way through the clouds. It makes for a neat effect.

"Foggy Morning Waterfall"
Mount Evans, Colorado
Big Picture

My wife and I went back up on Mount Evans a few weeks after this trip with my folks. In fact, it was the last trip of the year... they closed the mountain for the season. While we were on it! Yes, as the snow storm started in, we started out. Later that evening we saw on the news that several hikers had to be rescued by the forest patrol. The weather in the fall can change really fast in the mountains, always be prepared. And dress warmly! We saw people on the summit of Mount Evans in shorts that day...

On the way back to Idaho Springs, there is a small roadside park where I always like to stop. There is a neat little stream that bubbles over stones and tree roots, and includes a small (about six foot) waterfall. On this particular day, the scenery was amazing! The storm that was coming in generated really low clouds, so even though it was almost 11:00 in the morning when my wife took this picture it looks like an eerie foggy morning.

If you look really close at the picture, maybe you can spot the elves that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about...

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"Storm Across the Valley"
Mount Evans, Colorado
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There is an older John Denver song that contains the lyrics:

There's a storm across the valley, clouds are rolling in...

The song was "Back Home Again", and I thought about it almost immediately as I was taking the picture to the side. We were on the road heading up to the summit of Mount Evans when we stopped to look over the valley at the storm that was approaching. When we got to the top, it was snowing! That may not sound like a surprise until I tell you that we were there during the middle of July...

That happens a lot during summertime in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, most guide books suggest that any hiking on mountain summits be done before the early afternoon to avoid the severe lightning storms that can come up without warning. This picture is probably not one of the most dramatic shots on this site, but it is one of my favorites.

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