Mount Evans

Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. It's located in Colorado, USA. The byway is 28 miles (45 km) long and has an elevation gain of 7,000 feet (2.100m), achieving a stunning final altitude of 4.310m (14,130ft). It's one of the highest roads of the USA.

Located in Clear Creek County, the road begins at the junction of Interstate 70 and State Highway 103 near Idaho Springs, continues on State Highway 5 and ends near the summit of Mount Evans. The first 4 miles, from Idaho Springs on CO 103, are surprisingly flat, then there is a 4-6% grade to the entrance that continues to Summit lake. The last 5 miles have grades of 2-5%, but because you are above 12,000 feet it will feel like 10-15% grade to top. Drive from 8,700 feet at Idaho Spring where you turn off Interstate 70 to 14,240 feet to the summit, and you will pass through 3 life zones, passing ancient trees, lakes and forest to the land above timberline. Completed in 1931, the road has many switchbacks on the mountain and terrifying drop-offs without guardrails. Vehicles over 30' long are not recommended due to the steep, narrow, winding road. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.

The road to the top is typically opened in May (Memorial Day) when Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has completely plowed the road, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. Usually the road to Summit Lake is opened before the last 5 miles to the summit is opened. Once opened, the road is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unlike Pikes Peak that is only open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. CDOT has returned to closing the top five miles the day after Labor Day. CDOT says that the first 10 miles (of 15 to the summit) will be open until the "first significant snowfall" or the first weekend in October, which ever is first. Exactly, what is a "significant snowfall" is not defined. There is a park fee charged if using parking lots and facilities along the upper portion of the byway. In addition to being such a high elevation road, highway 5 in Colorado has one other thing in its favor: it is so close to Denver, the largest city in the US state of Colorado, that it gives a fantastic aerial view of a large North American metropolitan area. The best time to travel to the summit of Mt Evans is in the summer. It is best to try to time your trip up the mountain for a day when thunderstorms are expected in the “low country” around Denver. There are few quickie boosts better than watching a thunderstorm unfold below as you sit under a sun-kissed blue sky at 14,000 feet.

A 28 miles (45 km) long drive with stunning views over the clouds

The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. This route was designated a Forest Service Byway on July 1, 1993 by the US Forest Service and has also been designated a Colorado Scenic Byway by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The road is a beautiful work of civil engineering with perfect curves and wide lanes. A new extension was added to the byway from Echo Lake to Bergen Park via Clear Creek County Road 103 and Jefferson County Road 66. The route takes the visitor from open ponderosa and juniper hills and open meadows, up through deep spruce forests and into the magnificent splendor of the alpine environment. In the past there was a restaurant at the summit which is obviously no longer in operation. On the descent, travelers should heed the warning and descend on the road in lower gear so that their brakes do not overheat and lose their effectiveness. At the end of the road, there is a summit-viewing platform which was constructed from the structural remains of a restaurant and gift shop that burned down in 1979. Those who have driven to Mount Evans recommend taking it slow and admiring the scenery. This drive offers visitors scenic views of the Continental Divide, mountain goat and bighorn sheep herds, wildflowers, and the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine trees.


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