Mount Evans: On Top of the World in Colorado

Colorado is blessed with some world-class vistas and there is nothing more unique than our 54 14,000-foot peaks (14ers). I’ve hiked several of them, Jamie has summitted even more and in a few years we hope to do them as a family.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Out of the many 14ers, only two of them are drivable. At 14,265 feet, Mount Evans is just 60 miles west of Denver and is reputed as Colorado’s “highest paved highway.” So after church, we decided to drive to the top.

That’s what I call a scenic Sunday drive on steroids.

It has been nearly 10 years since I last drove to Mount Evans because I didn’t feel like the kids were ready until now. Why not? If you’ve never been at 14,000 feet you have no idea how much the altitude messes with your head. Every time I see a family up there with young kids (particularly when they’re hiking), I want to yell at them for being irresponsible. People have become lost, dazed and even died on these peaks due to the altitude.

I read the kids Harry Potter (their summer obsession) as the road climbed through nearly 9,000 feet of elevation gain from Denver’s high plains through five climate zones, past Summit Lake to the top of the continent. It. Was. Glorious. While Denver’s temperatures were in the 90s, there was a was a 40-degree drop at 14,265 feet so we bundled up in our winter jackets.

And yes, that made me a very happy Canuck.

When you reach the Summit Parking Area, you are not yet at the top so we hiked the 1/4-mile trail. You’d think the last 130 vertical feet would be a cinch but believe me, at 14,000 feet, your head is pounding and you’re gasping for air. But the views are out of this world.

Flying atop Mount Evans

Summit Lake, just below Mount Evan’s summit

All of Colorado’s 14ers have a solid bronze summit marker

But poor Bode felt like his head was going to explode from the altitude so we quickly made our descent down, down, down the mountain.

Note to self: give the boy a couple of years before reattempting another 14er.

Echo Lake Lodge

Near the entrance to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is Echo Lake, a beautiful jewel-like body of water. And next to that is historic Echo Lake Lodge. Built in 1926, this charming restaurant and gift shop is brimming with souvenir clothing, glassware, collectibles, handmade Native American jewelery, toys, delicious homemade pies and breathtaking views of Echo Lake from the restaurant.

But it was Sunday and we try very hard not to shop on the Sabbath so we made a vow to return very soon for dinner and souvenirs.

Little did I know it would be a mere two days later.

Stay tuned for our serendipitous hiking adventures to nearly Idaho Springs Reservoir. Read it here

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