Monday, August 1, 2022

Above the Clouds on Mount Evans Part One

One of our favorite places to visit in Colorado is Mount Evans. If you look at my blog sidebar you will see a label towards the middle that says Mt Evans with a 4--I've blogged about trips up this mountain 4 times before and if you click on that label --click here--you can read all four posts. Because of Covid-19 precautions, the road was closed for one year to cars, and the next year a reservation system was instituted to keep crowds at a controllable level. The reservation system worked so well that it is still in effect, so this summer my family made reservations for a day that turned out not to be the best weather, but it also gave us a view of the mountain that was unique!

Mount Evans has an elevation of 14,260 feet (4,346.5 M) and has North America's Highest Auto Road.  The Mount Evans Scenic Byway climbs over 7,000 feet in its 28-mile length, reaching an altitude of 14,130' feet. The drive offers visitors scenic views of the Continental Divide, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep herds, marmots, birds, and alpine wildflowers..... well as Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine trees.

I blogged about these ancient bristlecone pines trees once before--on this linkThey are located on a part of the drive in an area called the Mount Goliath Natural Area which is managed in cooperation between Denver Botanic Gardens and the US Forest Service. Some of the trees are between 900 to 2,000 years old!  On this trip, we did not stop as usual to visit the nature center as the weather was very overcast and we were concerned that we would be driving through a thunderstorm.

As you can see from the photo above,  the clouds were heavy and some raindrops were falling. Usually, this view of the continental divide is very scenic 


But although the distant views were obscured the rising clouds were amazing to see.

It was like being in heaven and looking down at the earth from our own cloud!

As we continued to drive in some areas the skies were dark and the clouds began to bring pelting rain.

In other areas, we were above the clouds again!

Because of the inclement weather not many cars were on the scenic byway that day. You can see from all the rocks in the terrain the Rocky Mountains are aptly named.

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a narrow road with one lane in each direction and is always under repair due to the extreme weather conditions the mountain experiences every year. It has no side rails and at times nerves of steel are needed to drive around mountain curves that look like they head right off the mountain!

Although this was the last week in July, and Colorado has had high summer temperatures, there were still patches of snow in some areas.

The temperature does get lower the higher the road climbs and one year we actually drove through a snow storm during the last five miles on the first day of summer--click here-- to see that post!

We did stop at Summit Lake as we all had to use the restroom facility, but it was raining so we did not take a hike there as we usually like to do. Summit Lake is at 12,840 feet (3,913.632 M) which is well above the tree line, and there are always beautiful alpine flowers located there on the tundra--as you can see on this past post--click here.

We continued our drive to the summit and at this point, we were encased in fog at times!

We even followed a bicycle rider at one point as we were afraid to pass him!

If you look closely at the photo above you can see two people wearing turquoise walking up a trail.
The switchback trail leads from a parking lot that is close to the top of the Mount Evans Summit!  

In the past, we always parked and walked up the last 130 feet to the summit, but since at this high elevation it was cold at 40 degrees F (4.444C), and raining we decided we'd not chance it. We were also worried about possible lightning.

The ruins of the Crest House which was once a visitors center, restaurant, and gift shop that opened in 1941, but sadly burned in 1979 by a propane accident.  A smaller restroom facility was built in this area afterward.

In this area, there are some observation decks and telescopes. 

There are also usually many mountain goats and sheep in this area but they were all hiding this day -the photo above is from a past visit. If you look at this post--click here-- you can see that they walk around very close to all the visitors and are quite photogenic!

You can see a portion of the scenic byway we traveled in this photo and that we were above many clouds!

A warning sign at the parking lot with all good advice.  Altitude sickness is always a danger for someone not acclimated to this high elevation.  

We took quick photos by the sign and hopped back into our car for the ride down--a part two blog post of that drive will be on next week's post.  

Meanwhile, Happy Month of August!  

Summer is flying by!

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eileeninmd said...

Sorry the weather did not cooperate with your visit to the park.
The views are still beautiful. Love the goats and sheep. Lovely post and photos. Take care, have a great day and happy week ahead.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, what an adventure, going on a road to over 14,000 feet and seeing the clouds below you, in the cold and rain.

Great photos!!

Janice said...

Delightful post. Some of the best trips are on rainy days. Especially good for unique memories.

Barbara R. said...

I really enjoyed driving up to Mt. Evans when I visited my son back in 2005 (while Hurricane Katrina was plummeting New Orleans. Coming from FL, I waited to get used to the altitude gradually, first Boulder, then Rocky Mt. Natl. Park, then finally Evans! Whew...still light headed!

Tom said...

...those Bristlecone Pine trees are historic!

NCSue said...

Wow. Many of these are postcard/centerfold quality shots!
Thanks for sharing at

Linda W. said...

Sometimes cloudy days give you great photos too. The clouds can create unusual scenic views, such as a mountainside emerging from under the fog. Glad you went up the mountain despite the less than ideal weather.

dee Nambiar said...

Gorgeous sights from Mt. Evans. We were there a few years ago and it was not this green. It was still a lovely and memorable drive. :)

Ruth Hiebert said...

That looks liken beautiful drive. Honestly, I'm not sure I could do it. Those narrow roads and steep drop offs make my stomach turn, just to think about them.

ellen b. said...

I can see why this is a favorite drive and destination for you. The photos are just beautiful. Love the moodiness of the hovering clouds!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

A delightful trip!

William Kendall said...

Gorgeous, moody landscapes.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Such a beautiful place!!

Jeanie said...

Thank you for not passing the cyclist on the narrow road in the rain (on behalf of cyclists everywhere!) What a fabulous place and glorious view. To be above the clouds -- even seeing things half clouded, half not, is really magnificent. I can see why you've been there before and return.

Joanne said...

Oh yes, that road would have made me very nervous! LOL. What beautiful views even with the clouds rolling in.

Laura | Everyday Edits said...

HI Pat,
Love these day trip posts! Love the altitude sickness warning. A fews year ago we climbed a 14-er at Mt. Bierstadt. I have lived in CO for 30 years and was not prepared for the top of the mountain. I started getting panicky and nauseous -never thinking of altitude sickness. I just had to start my descent and I was fine a minute later. Crazy!

Bear cubs back yesterday! They are so cute.

xo laura

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Looks like a beautiful drive, and one I would like to make someday. Wow, that is one hardy bike rider!

Jocelyn said...

Beautiful mountains.

Lowcarb team member said...

A big WOW from me.
Lovely to see your photographs.

All the best Jan

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Fabulous pictures and your excellent commentary all brought back our own memories of some memorable drives to the top of Mt Evans. My picture of that same sign is one of my favorite "souvenirs" (via photo) as it made me feel strong and brave and young just to have survived in good health! It really is such a wonderful spot and a beautiful drive getting there and back. I approve of the appointment drive for this as I do for our National Parks as the slight inconvenience keeps these places from being loved to death.

Jim said...

Beautiful scenery.

Photo Cache said...

Colorado is such a beautiful state. I just wish I could visit it someday.

Visting from Skywatch Friday!

Worth a Thousand Words

Sandy said...

Been a good number of years since we've been to Colorado, but I well remember areas like your pictures when we would run into steep winding roads, some not paved. And hiking through snow fields in July. I remember having to break ice to get water in the morning to make coffee on a few trips. We got so we put the water in the pan before climbing into the tent, that way we could just turn on propane stove in the morning and not have to break ice. Wonderful photo's thanks for sharing.
Sandy's Space

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat,
What a beautiful and scenic drive. The mountain views are gorgeous.
I am amazed at how brave the bike riders are riding on these roads in the fog and rain. The clouds are beautiful and I love the mountain goats. Lovely series of photos. Thank you for sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day and the new week ahead. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

Penny Carlson said...

Such beauty!

Light and Voices said...

The weather was perfect for photographs. If you look at Ansel Adams images most are taken on a cloudy day. Those clouds drifting around the mountain range was spectacular. I am sorry that you were not able to hike and do many things that you usually do but you made lemonade out of lemons. Thanks for sharing these absolutely beautiful photographs. Glad you didn't pass the biker until it was safe for both of you.

Andree said...

When I was a teenager, the family drove up there. I still sort of remember it decades later; but I'm glad I knew nothing about altitude sickness that I know now! ;-)

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The warnings are interesting and I hope heeded. Love that you can drive so far and see so much on this road. I wouldn't be able to hike or bike it, for sure!