Monday, August 8, 2022

Part Two: Mount Evans and a Farewell to Echo Lake Lodge




In last week's blog post, Above the Clouds on Mount Evans Part One, I showed what it looked like to drive up North America's highest paved road to 14,260 ft (4,346M) on a rainy, cloudy day.

 After taking some quick photos in the rain at the summit, at a cold temperature of 40 degrees (4.444 C), we were on our way back down the mountain to go back to drier and safer ground.



Please click on to enlarge


As you can see in the upper section of the photo collage above there is a  U.S. Geological Survey brass plaque on one of the highest boulders on the summit of Mount Evans, placed there in 1955 which states "Elevation Above Sea level 14,258." 

The bottom photo in the collage shows an infographic located at Summit Lake, which is located at 12,840 feet (3,913.632 M) on the mountain. It describes the five life zones one will drive through on their way from Denver, Colorado to the summit of Mount Evans--from mile-high grasslands at 5280 ft to alpine over 14,000 feet. It really is amazing to see the different terrain.




The alpine environment is where mountain goats, marmots, and bighorn sheep call home year-round.







On the drive back down I could see the 14,065-foot summit of Mount Bierstadt in the distance,  It is also located in the Mount Evans Wilderness area.




As we descended I could see the fog lifting up from below.




The lower we traveled back on the switchback road the higher and greater the fog seemed to appear.






We were definitely still above the clouds!







It was still raining and the road was slippery and wet.







We could see a deep fog approaching...






...closer...





...until we were engulfed inside it! 

At this point, my husband drove very carefully as he could barely see the road in front of us.






I took photos of the clouds in the distance off to the side.






We slowly kept descending...






Although the views on a clear day are spectacular, it was also magical to see all the vistas covered with clouds this day.





The heavy cloud cover filled the sky above as we drove lower in elevation...






...it still felt like being in heaven!







Finally, we were back at tree level.







Echo Lake at the base of the mountain was still very foggy.






We stopped for lunch at the historic Echo Lake Lodge





Please click on to enlarge


Echo Lake Lodge, built in 1926 by the City and County of Denver, was designed to provide accommodations to Denver Mountain Parks visitors. Today, it is used only as a gift shop and restaurant.

The initial construction was the octagon-shaped part of the lodge and the rest of the building was added in 1927.  At 10,600 ft elevation, Echo Lake Lodge was used as a high-altitude training camp for the military during WWII.

In 1965, Denver Mountain Parks leased Echo Lake Lodge to H.W. Stewart Inc. H.W. Stewart is a fifth-generation family-owned family company that still operates Echo Lake Lodge to this day.  Sadly, this is their last year as Denver Mountain Parks did not renew their contract!  The lodge infrastructure needs heavy repairs.  Its indoor bathroom has been unusable since last summer, so Portosans had to be brought into the parking lot.




Every time we drove to Mount Evans in the past--almost once a year since living in Colorado--we would stop at Echo Lake Lodge for either a slice of homemade pie or to have lunch. Their Buffalo Chili was one of our favorites, so we made sure to order a bowl of it one last time.  I also enjoyed shopping in the well-stocked gift shop. 

 It's sad to know that this is its last year of business.  Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs had an ultra modernization of all its facilities a few years ago and I have a suspicion the same will happen for this structure when its replacement reopens in a few years.  We bid it a fond farewell--a piece of the Colorado past disappearing! 

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is open approximately from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather permitting--a reservation is required and must be made before your visit and printed or downloaded as the area has no cell phone service.  Please remember to leave no trace! Take only photos, leave only footprints (on the trails)


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29 comments:

eileeninmd said...

It is sad news, the lodge is closing. The restaurant sounds nice. I hope it is renovated. Pretty views of the Echo Lake. The Marmot, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats are cool critters, I like the baby goats. Wonderful photos.
Take care, have a great new week!

Penny Carlson said...

What a wonderful trip! Your pictures are stunning. I would have been very tense in that fog!

Barbara R. said...

What a beautiful drive, and sad lunch with all that history soon to be gone! Loved the clouds, though not to drive through!

Jeanie said...

Those mountain goats are fabulous. But I would have been a nervous wreck driving down that road in the fog! Love the lodge where you had your lunch. It looks so right for the area. Rustic and natural.

Joanne said...

Oh that drive down the mountain would have made me so anxious with the wet roads and the fog but you did get some really beautiful photos!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh that 's really too bad about Echo Lake Lodge. The family must be devastated! But it was a beautiful and different drivel Your fog pictures are beautiful, really pointing out the altitude and such unique views. (But I'm also glad you've been there before and will be there again sometime for the view). A little bit of a white-knuckle experience there for awhile! I'm glad your husband is an excellent mountain driver!!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I hate to have things closing that are such a treasure and nice for everyone to enjoy. Love the photos of the clouds down low on the mountains. I miss seeing these mts...several of my family members have been traveling out West this summer. I love their photos...but I want to GO! lol

Lydia C. Lee said...

THat's really crazy territory, and so not what I think of as America. Great pics! #RubyTuesdaytoo

stevebethere said...

I am jealous what a fab trip thanks for sharing your stunning photos

Have a triptastic week 👍

Ruth Hiebert said...

Your pictures are amazing, but I would have been so nervous driving along that road in the fog. Having said that, I might be better now, since I can focus on getting pictures. Thanks for sharing your visit.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

It's sad the lodge is closing - I like historic places to stay

Linda said...

Spectacular I love the fog photos and the animals.

Tom said...

...a beautiful area. Elevation sure changes things!

Angie said...

Pat - the rain and clouds look so refreshing, but I appreciate the need to be careful. I really liked the collage of the animals. I am sorry to hear the contract will not be renewed for the Lodge - will they tear it down and build something else, or refurbish it? Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday?

R's Rue said...

Such beauty. Thank you for sharing.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Some great foggy mountain scenes you captured. Beautiful photographs!!

Too bad about the Lodge but something has to give if the restrooms are not working.

William Kendall said...

Gorgeous landscapes.

NCSue said...

I was there about 20 years ago. It is still so beautiful. Thank you for sharing the photos at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2022/08/a-visit-to-cedar-creek-galleries.html

Jocelyn said...

Beautiful mountains.

Carol Benton said...

Amazing scenery! And you got some wonderful pics of the animals, too. It looks like a glorious trip. Thank you for participating in Talent-Sharing Tuesdays Link-Up 28.
Carol
www.scribblingboomer.com

Jim said...

Great scenery.

carol l mckenna said...

Oh you go the best places ~ fantastic photography ~ love the animals Xo

Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,

A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Echo Lake looks so beautiful! Coming down that road through the fog looks like a white knuckler!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat,

I enjoyed seeing your mountain wildlife. The goats, sheep and the marmot are great critters. Wonderful post and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Spectacular views! I like the Bighorn sheep.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for sharing the wonderful views.

All the best Jan

betty-NZ said...

I always enjoy the photos of your journeys. Love the scenery so much.


Thanks for sharing your link at My Corner of the World this week!

Yvonne said...

What a trip! A bit scary with the fog. Your photos show a very beautiful place. We drove that road some thirty years ago before reservations were required, when we lived in Colorado Spring. The road was clear, and everything was covered with snow. It was so magical. Really enjoyed reading this post.

Rambling Woods said...

How interesting about the three zones of life and wonderful photos… Michelle