Have you been to Mount Evans? It’s within driving distance of Denver, Colorado, and is the closest “fourteener” to Denver — a mountain of at least 14,000 feet. The best part? You can drive to the top of the mountain! Mount Evans is located in Clear Creek County about 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Denver.
We drove to the top of Mount Evans in mid-June of this year, and the weather was fantastic. Clear views for over one hundred miles, spectacular views of the Rockies, and interesting driving. As you drive higher and higher, you’ll pass the tree line, see leftover snow and ice, and experience the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.
The winds were very high at the peak, and while we were there recently we even experienced a snowstorm that blasted snow in a very windy way!
The mountain was named after Colorado’s second governor (technically still the Colorado Territory at the time), John Evans (1862-1865).
The drive up Mount Evans is absolutely beautiful, and is about 15 miles in length. It’s a narrow road, with lots of steep cliffs on the edge of the road, but it is so totally worth it!
Mount Evans is 14,265 feet high and once you arrive at the top of the road there is a parking lot with a visitors center (1941-1942). Except, you’ll quickly discover the visitors center burned down in 1979 and was never rebuilt. The rock foundation and walls (built by using rocks from the surrounding area) are still in place today, and the wind rustles through them.
This road is actually the highest road in North America. As soon as you learn that, you’ll be curious about the highest road in the world. The answer is that the highest road in the world is in Tibet and is over 20,000 feet high.
Interestingly, this road was built to be a primary access road for a National Park that never came to be. The Mount Evans Wilderness Area was a proposed National Park in the early 1900s (around 1915-1920).
The fee to enter Mount Evans is $10 per vehicle (1-12 occupants) or $3 for motorcycles, bicycles, and hikers. Is it worth it? Absolutely! In fact, Trip Advisor rates it the #1 attraction in Denver out of 139 attractions.
We didn’t see too many animals on our drive, but the ones were saw were super cute and furry! We saw lots of Yellow Bellied Marmots along the sides of the road. They’re usually together, eating grasses during the late evening or morning, and sleeping in the day. You’ll see a lot of them because they love Mount Evans! No, seriously… there are more of them on Mount Evans than any other mountain in Colorado.
We also saw Mule Deer and a few Elk.
In the area, are Echo Lake Park and Summit Lake Park, and the Evergreen Lake area.
Don’t forget to use your lower gears on the way down the mountain! I forgot, and my brakes were really hot when I reached the bottom of the mountain — so, don’t be like me, and use your lower gears on the decent! My brakes were just fine, but I wish I had remembered.