Mount Evans Tarmac Goes to Great Heights

We spent the night in Idaho Springs, Colorado when Carol discovered we were close to Mount Evans, the highest elevation paved road in the US (14,271′). We had to go up there!

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway consists of State Highway 103 from Idaho Springs, CO on I-70. Mount Evans is one of 54 “14ers” in Colorado; peaks exceeding 14,000′. Mount Evans is the highest summit of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, along with Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, and nearby Mount Bierstadt.
The Rocky Mountain weather rule book says anything goes at any time. Clouds advanced then retreated many times, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
If you’re into mountain goats, lots of mountain goats, then Mt. Evans is the place for you. Mountain goats share the hilltop with mountain lions, black bears, bighorn sheep, marmots and pikas.
These are the ruins of the Crest House (1941–’42), once a restaurant and a gift shop which burned down in Sept., 1979. The rock foundation and walls remain as a windbreak for mountain travelers, and snack bar for mountain goats.
The summit of Mt. Evans is shared with the Meyer–Womble Observatory, the third-highest optical/infrared observatory in the world owned and operated by the University of Denver. A short, 100′ vertical hike from the parking lot gets you to the summit of Evans, as well as reminding you to appreciate air containing oxygen.
While hardly at the top of things, Summit Lake Park is only 12,836 feet elevation. The land for the park was acquired by Denver in 1924 and incorporated into the Denver Mountain Parks system.
Conflicting information. The benchmark at the top of Mt. Evans says 14,258′; the City of Denver says the elevation is 14,264′; Wikipedia lists the elevation as 14,271′; while the Forest Service precisely refers to it as “a 14er.”

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