Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quite a Thrilling Drive to the Summit of Mt Evans!


The natural beauty of the state of Colorado never ceases to amaze me!

(All photos in this post can be enlarged for easier viewing by clicking on them once or twice)


This is the kind of state where enjoying the outdoors is almost synonymous with breathing. Recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and bicyclists are frequently seen on the roads, going on an adventure.....


...on the many Colorado roads that lead to magnificent views and venues.


One of the adventures my husband and I went on this summer was a car drive to the summit of Mt. Evans.  Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America!  Located only 60 miles west of Denver, this scenic highway begins near Idaho Springs, off Interstate 70, at an elevation of 8,700 feet and climbs to 14,130 feet below the summit at 14270.  If you begin the drive from Denver's high plains, you will pass through five climate zones. It can be 90 degrees in Denver and 40 degrees, or lower, at the top of Mt. Evans!

One of the first scenic areas you will see on the way to Mt. Evans is Echo Lake. This pretty alpine lake is at 10,600 feet above sea level and is part of the Denver Mountain Parks system.



There is a recreation fee charged by the National Forest Service to drive on Mt. Evans Scenic Byway after Echo Lake Park, which is collected for the services and amenities provided at two developed site within the Mount Evans Recreation area.  Because my husband holds a lifetime senior pass to the Federal National Parks, this fee was waived for us.


Only three miles up from the beginning of the Mount Evans fee entrance is the Mount Goliath Natural Area. It is 160 acres set aside for the protection, study, interpretation and enjoyment of the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine.  Bristlecone Pine are the oldest living organism on earth, some surviving thusands of years!


The short Bristlecone Loop Trail allows visitors to see these mystical looking trees up close.


The Dos Chappell Nature Center is situated on the edge of the natural area and contains exhibits that interpret the remarkable life that thrives in the sub alpine and alpine conditions on the mountain. The trails outside this center were filled with beautiful wildflowers.


As we drove higher on the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway there were many turns and switchbacks that made us feel as if we were driving off the mountain side! There are no guardrails along the road.


I could see Echo Lake receding in the distance.


Higher and higher we climbed...


...and we were soon above the tree line.


We came to a section of the road that always seems to be rimmed with snow...



...even in the month of August!


You can see how the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway twists and turns around the mountain range.



We are again sharing the road with bicylists.


We reached Summit Lake Park, which is situated below the Mount Evans Massif.  At an elevation of 12,830 feet, it is the highest park in the Denver Mountain Parks system. This area is popular for its impressive scenery, alpine botanical features and wildlife viewing opportunities..


This area is one of the best examples of Arctic tundra in the contiguous United States.


The Summit Lake area provides habitat for a variety of rare alpine-arctic plants, some of which occur only here and above the Arctic Circle. Because of the fragile tundra and rarity of these plants visitors are asked to stay on the trails, and not walk on the tundra. We also saw our first view of the wild mountain rams that live on Mt Evans! They were in the process of shedding their heavy winter fur coats.


The Mount Evans Road significantly narrows after leaving the Summit Lake area.  Considering the altitude and extremely adverse weather conditions that exists here most of the year, it is a marvel that this road was able to be constructed between 1924 and 1930.  Because the weather changes here so quickly, this portion of the road is often only open from the end of May till the end of August.


 Obviously, we drove slowly and carefully as we continued our ascent


We also had to share this rather narrow road with other traffic going both directions.


The views were magnificent for the passenger, but the driver had to keep their eyes on the road!



Finally, we catch sight of the summit!  If you enlarge this photo you will see the top dome of the Meyer-Womble ObservatoryBuilt in 1996, it is at 14,193 feet, and is the third highest opitcal/infared observatory in the world.


It is easy to see that we are now well above the other nearby mountains, and the tundra land is full of boulders.


This photo shows a look down on the road as we make multiple switchback turns along the top.


I really felt as if I was on top of the world!


We arrive at the Mt. Evans parking lot, which is at an elevation of 14,130 feet. 


Besides the Meyer-Wombie Observatory, there are two historical sites in this area.  One is the Crest House ruins. The Crest House was opened in 1942, and served as a restaurant and souvenir shop. It was tragically burned in a propane fire in 1979.  The other structure is the High Altitude Lab. It is a wooden double wide A frame building that was constructed by the University of Denver in 1935 to support cosmic ray research.


My husband and I decided to hike the trail to the very top of the summit. 


The thin air at this altitude makes the quarter mile climb seem more strenuous than it should be, but the views are worth it! From the top one can see the continental divide to the west, including 14,000+ foot Grays and Torreys Peaks. Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is visible to the north, Pikes Peak, South Park and the Sagre de Cristo Mountains are visible to the south, and the high plains and the Denver area is to the east.


The photo above shows a view of Lake Summit from the summit of Mt. Evans.


More views from the top...







We also saw the Mt. Evans Mountain Goats near the summit. They like to lick the minerals from the rocks.


In winter and spring they have long white furry coats, but they were shedding them in August.


Another visitor took this photo of my husband and I at the summit of Mt. Evans.


We liked it so much that when a representative of Easy Canvas contacted me and offered me a free 16 X 20 inch photo canvas of a photo of my choice, I chose this one. It came out beautifully!  The canvas captured the photo's colors and details perfectly, and the order process was very easy. We hung it in my husband's office, where it will be a reminder of this exciting car trip and hike to the top of one of Colorado's 53 over 14,000 foot mountains!

The exciting news is that in a post coming up I will be giving away the chance for you to win your own free, 16 x 20 inch Easy Canvas, made from a photo of your choice, and shipped free to your home! Keep checking back on my blog for this give away post, which will be coming within the next few week!


I'm adding this post to the following blog events: 


* In full disclosure this post is sponsored by Easy Canvas.  I was given a coupon for a free photo canvas and free shipping. All opinions of the canvas are my own and were not influenced in any way by this gift


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68 comments:

diane b said...

Wow!!! What an amazing drive. The scenery is breathtaking and the height is unimaginable. Thanks for showing me this magic area You did well to hike to the top.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What an amazing drive, higher and higher, and higher. I bet you did feel like you're on top of the world there. Here in the mountains of North Carolina we think 4500' is a high elevation :)
Sam

The Quintessential Magpie said...

The whole time I was reading and looking at your pictures, I kept thinking what the original pioneer settlers in this area would think when they first beheld this amazing natural beauty!

Your photos are simply gorgeous, Pat! I cannot get over the Colorado sky! It is stunning. And I love that picture of the two of you. What a great giveaway.

Big hugs on this beautiful Sunday. May God richly bless you!

xoxo

Sheila :-)



Vee said...

Gorgeous! My cap is doffed to the driver; I could not drive that road nor could I enjoy the scenes if John were. LOL! My sister was just describing her trip to Colorado and being on one of these mountain roads...Pike's Peak, I think. She was so lightheaded and ill at the top that she feared passing out. Apparently, there were a few who did. All this to say that this is why I appreciate your posts so I can enjoy it without having to do it myself. That is a wonderful photo of you both!

steviewren said...

Magnificent photos of an amazing trip. I'm not sure I could have gone the distance as the driver either, but oh, what a payoff there is for sticking to it.

Janet Shaw said...

Beautiful!

ellen b. said...

Just so amazing! I'm glad you were able to hike the distance to get the amazing views!

Noel Morata said...

What a fun tour, thanks for sharing the highlights and what amazing views!

Betsy Adams said...

Every single time I see a post about Mt. Evans, I desperately hope to get there sometime. That is MY kind of ride/hike... I'd definitely go to the top ---although we are NOT used to altitudes like that at all... High altitudes here about about 6000 feet... ha

You certainly picked a gorgeous day to go up there. Beautiful photos.
Hugs,
Betsy

Snap said...

I bet the mountain goats wondered why all the people were visiting! It is gorgeous at the "top of the world". If I went back, I'd have to take oxygen -- I've lived at sea level for too long! ;)

Micupoftea said...

Wow, this is just the kind of drive my family would enjoy! Reminds me of Canada. GORGEOUS photos, esp love the one taken from the dash inside the car. What fun that you got to see mountain goats. Nice post :)

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

I felt as if I might fall off the road there in a few pictures. What amazing scenery / loved the tour :)

Barbara said...

Such an amazing post, Pat. The photos are top notch including the one you now have hanging in your home). I have been to the top once, 46 years ago. Your pictures made me feel like I was there again, minus the high altitude headache. (smile) Even your scenes on the road with the drop-offs to one side felt real to the reader! Great work, girlfriend!

Barbara said...
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Barbara said...
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ann said...

Another fabulous post on our wonderful state. The Mount Evans drive was always a must when our family had out of state company. Again it has been years since we took that drive. Since I now live in the northern part of the state, we are more inclined to Estes Park and Trail Ridge Road. You are having fun discovering your home and tqking absolutely beautiful photos.

Michelle said...

Colorado is a beautiful state and your photos have captured it well!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

It's wonderful to be able to travel alongside another blogger with all their photos. I was fine until you showed that narrow road with the bikers ahead and the steep slope to the right. After that I was mentally hugging the opposite side and hanging back since I don't like heights.
I think the mountain goats will look rather nice once the scraggly winter mass falls off.
An excellent photo of you and hubby and a good choice for your free canvas.
Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday Pat.

Jan Robinson said...

I wish I was there driving the mountain road myself but your photos show it off well. One good thing about no safety rails is it is easier to take good photos from the vehicle. I love goats! Would not like to be the cyclist...:/

Helen's Decor said...

Wonderful post! I've always loved the mountains in the SE USA. For almost 26 years we've enjoyed our dream of living on a mountaintop in Tennessee. And our roads have rails along much of the drive; however, many are drop offs, too. That said, the mountains you drove in were many, many times higher than ours. Going down that outside lane would be reason for me to be sedated. Thanks for sharing, Helen

Bethany Carson said...

Amazingly beautiful photos! Lovely shots of Summit and Echo Lakes, and great pics of the mountain goats! Looks like a wonderful place for a road trip.

edenhills said...

How beautiful! I love the wild flowers and the lake. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to drive that road. Wow!

Lorrie said...

What an amazing drive and view. Such a beautiful world we live in. Echo Lake is stunning. How wonderful to remember this trip when you look at your photo on the wall.

Muza-chan said...

Beautiful photos...

Lina Gustina said...

Breath taking views. Admire your shots!

www.1sthappyfamily.com/2014/09/current-bogor-pedestrian-underpass.html

Poppy said...

Beautiful photos of your excursion to the sky, Pat! Ah yes, those narrow, winding roads, know them well, as here on the island, they seem to be the exception and not the rule! Thanks for sharing your adventure!

Poppy

Hannah said...

I enjoyed your informative post and photos, it's been 42 years since I drove company up there. The road didn't bother me but my Dad was very anxious. It's distracting seeing marmots next to the road.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

The tree line change ALWAYS amazes me!! Fall color changes are on the way and I will be looking forward to seeing you share some of those, Pat! blessings ~ tanna

SmilingSally said...

Morning Pat,

When we visited CO, we experienced snow in August. It happened during Pike's Peak Rodeo Parade, and yes, snow fell that day! Thanks for making Blue Monday special.

Have a Beautiful Blue Monday!

gracieplace said...

Wow what a view and beautiful landscapes!! That place is really Amazing...

Kris said...

What a beautiful place you are living in!!!!
xo Kris

HikeBikeTravel said...

I have hiked Mount Evans to the top and your photos are a glorious reminder of how beautiful the peak is. Biking would be quite the challenge too. Great set of photos.

Linda Kay said...

My first visit to your site, and I have to say...absolutely stunning photos. You have certainly captured all the memes for the week with these. Be sure to visit my site for Wednesday Wit and Wisdom, if you like to write.

carol l mckenna said...

Colorado is beautiful ~ wonderful vistas and you have captured them so well!

Happy Trails!

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Beth said...

You're right, Pat - Colorado is a BEAUTIFUL state! When we were there two summers ago, we looked at property but since our kids are in Iowa and Texas, we felt we should live in one - or both- of those places. I absolutely love Colorado, and wish I could live there but for now, I'll just visit whenever I can. Loved seeing your pics, Pat. We have driven over Trail Ridge Road from Estes to Grand Lake many times, and saw some of the same things you showed in the alpine regions. We didn't see the mountain goats though and I enjoyed your pics.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Gosh, I hadn't realised the scenery was so spectacular. Love the goats!

adaisyisadaisy said...

Beautiful scenery, thanks so much for sharing.

Jeanne said...

Wow Pat, I as mesmerized by these photos. It looks downright scary. What a wonderful experience for you both. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing adventure. Honestly, I wonder how you could breathe at that altitude. Did I mention that your photos told your story and adventure perfectly. :).

The canvas of your photo together is wonderful. I look forward to your canvas giveaway soon.

Have a wonderful week. Oh yes, we are in Gator football heaven. We are staying here in Fl to see the next Sat. game as well.
xo, Jeanne

Jeanne said...

Oops, 'I was'
Me again.

Rambling Woods said...

Hi Pat...beautiful scenery and from a part of the country I have never seen myself but would like to. I am sorry about the confusion with the linky for Nature Notes.. it can take a minute for the server to post the link and then refresh the page. You did have two links, so I can remove one. I looked around and you really have a wonderful blog and your grandchildren are adorable and love the quotes you have posted around... Michelle from Nature Notes @ ramblingwoods

Pondside said...

There nearly aren't words, Pat - fantastic, amazing, breathtaking...none is adequate! What a drive that must have been. Oddly, a couple of photos made me feel a little bit of vertigo! You are having so many adventures in Colorado - I love how you've embraced your new western lifestyle!! The picture of you and your husband says it all!

ladyfi said...

Gorgeous shots of the magnificent scenery!

Fun60 said...

What a drive! I would love to do that drive but only as a passenger.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, what an adventure!!! Great post.

Felicia said...

Well I'm homesick now. Colorado homesick that is. It looks like our trip to the top of Pike's Peak.

Great images of the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Thanks so much for sharing Pat.

Annesphamily said...

Many, many beautiful memories in these photos for me. I remember my father driving there when i was a young kid. Sigh!

Donna said...

I agree that Co is so beautiful...so much to see. And now when I am in Denver next fall for a wedding we will have to take this trip. Thank you for showing us so much incredible stunning beauty.

podso said...

A wonderful photo of your and your husband … you chose a good one. Wonderful photos of your day on the mountain top.

Molly said...

What an amazing route to drive I would so love to do this

Mollyxxx

bettyl-NZ said...

That's some great scenery! I certainly don't miss snow at all.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

We just loved that drive ... and hope to do it again someday soon. Marvelous pictures Pat.

That sign (in the one collage) made us proud that we made it and could still breath! I'm sure you two are all altitude adapted by now, but we are always coming from the lowlands when we visit beautiful Colorado.

Thanks for sharin!

Mascha said...

Gorgeos mountains!
Greetings from Germany :-)

Massimo said...

wow ! just amazing, I love America, it's a wonderful and huge Country !

Daniela said...

Actually I go feeling amazed watching the wonders that the Nature of your enchanted Colorado preserves and you, little by little are discovering this neverending fairy tale, lucky you, my dear Pat !!
Thank you for giving us the chance to be beside you in these wonderful adventures !
I wish you a lovely day, sweet friend
With much love
Dany

fredamans said...

Nice print of you and your husband!
Love the views, I can see why so many people travel to the top. Wow!

HansHB said...

A beautiful post!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

I like the wild flowers. Saying hi after being away for a long time.

The Gathering Place said...

Wow! What a beautiful place. Those steep mountain drives are stunning, but they sure make me nervous-especially if you have to pass another car!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

I want to go there!! Wonderful post, thanks so much for taking us along.

Judie said...

Rod and I took this drive one summer, and I am glad we had jackets! It was very warm down in the valley, but when we got to the top, it was snowing. Your photos are excellent!!

Mary @ The World Is A Book said...

What an amazing drive and scenery. Those switchbacks and narrow roads are worth it for stunning views you get at the summit. Love seeing all that wildlife too. I will need to keep this in mind the next time we're in Denver.

eileeninmd said...

Pat, what an awesome scenic drive.. The views are beautiful..We did not have time to do this drive during our trip! But, I showed my hubby your post and what he missed...I love the goats and seeing the wildlife. The flowers are pretty.. Wonderful post..

DeniseinVA said...

Oh my goodness Pat, what an amazing post. Gorgeous scenery and loved all your photos. Thank you so much for sharing them and linking with Today's Flowers. Very much appreciated :) Happy Sunday to you and have a great week ahead.

Marie said...

Wow! Pat, I have been waiting for this post! :-) You included a lot more info and facts that I did not, and got some great photos of the alpine flowers! Great post! I enjoyed my ascent again!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Gorgeous views of the mountains!

Christian Weiß said...

A stunning area and wonderful photos.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

lovely shots of a beautiful area...

firaszphotography said...

All shots are delighting at best!

Cheers )