Mt. Evans, High in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Let’s drive on the highest paved highway in North America.   Colorado Traveling Ducks are going to the top of Mt. Evans.  And we will not be more than 2 hours away from home near Denver, Colorado.   First we stop to admire Echo Lake.

Echo Lake

At 10,600 feet above sea level, a short hike by the lake, then a great meal at the lodge,

Echo Lake Lodge

and we are ready to begin our journey to the top of Mt. Evans.

Let’s go to the top of Mt. Evans

This is a combination of Denver Mountain Parks and some Federal land, but our National Park Pass covers our admission.   Our first stop is Mount Goliath.

Mount Goliath Natural Area

Here we see the really old Bristlecone Pine trees, the oldest living things on earth.

Bristlecone Pines

Our bristlecones are only about 1,700 years old.   Some bristlecones in California and Nevada are over 4,000 years old.   Those trees were old when Jesus was born.   We like sitting on this fallen Bristlecone.

Fallen Bristlecone Pine

Our Bristlecone Pines do not get as old as those in California and Nevada because our growing conditions are too good.   They like more wind, more cold, and less moisture.   And we think our winters at this altitude are pretty brutal for growing things.  We are driving our car here, but some people enjoy the challenge of riding a bicycle.  You may notice there are few trees here.   We are approaching timber line.   Above here, the conditions prevent trees and most vegetation from growing.

Hard work to go by bicycle

The road is wide enough for two cars to pass, but not much wider.   There are no shoulders on this road and not a single guard rail to be seen.

Narrow road. No shoulders. No Guard rails.

The drivers need to be careful, and they are.   Each year more cars drive to the top of Mt. Evans, so be aware and be observant.   Look what you may see.

Mountain Goats

As we approach the summit of Mt. Evans, these Mountain Goats are wandering.   Humans do stop to admire and photograph the animals.

Mom and child. Mountain goats

We love seeing these animals.   At the summit of Mt. Evans, there is a parking lot with limited parking, paths to hike, and the remains of Crest House.

On hand rail of remains of Crest House

There are no concessions here, so bring your own water.  Crest House was a gift shop and restaurant, but was destroyed in a fire in 1979.   It was never rebuilt.   At the parking lot, you have reached the end of the highest paved road in North America.   You are at 14,206 feet above sea level.   Be careful.   The air is very thin, meaning there is not as much oxygen in the air as most people usually experience.   Move slowly and stop if you get light headed or dizzy.   If you brought oxygen with you, use it!  And if you are wondering, this road is 154 feet higher than the road to the top of Pikes Peak, a little further south near Colorado Springs.   Let’s head down now.   We love the views along the way.

Enjoy the views

There are some pullouts for hiking and admiring these mountain views.   We are higher than most of the surrounding mountains.

Beautiful views

Small mountain lakes dot the landscape.   Enjoy your time here.  Descending to 12,830 feet above sea level, we stop at Summit Lake.

Summit Lake

The day after Labor Day, the road is closed from here to the top of Mt. Evans.   Usually closed on the first Tuesday of September.   The rest of this road, from Echo Lake to Summit Lake, stays open until closed by snow.   We park here and follow the trails.

Yellow Bellied Marmot wants to go inside

This yellow bellied marmot wants to go inside this building?  We saw a park ranger and he said he opened the door earlier and the marmot went inside.   When he came out, the ranger closed the door.   As he was coming out, he seemed to look right at me.

Yellow Bellied Marmot

Mom, should I be worried?   The sign says he is eating lots to get ready for 8 months of hibernation.   Continuing driving back, we stop to see wildflowers.

This one is producing seeds

This unusual plant is growing and has a seed ball.   Interesting.   But this is my favorite.

Beautiful red wildflowers

I, Zeb the Duck, love red wildflowers.   If you did not drive to the summit of Mt. Evans this summer, we hope you plan to go next summer.   It is beautiful and you pass through so many climate levels.   You will be above tree line.   You will see arctic tundra.   We hope to see you there next summer.

Mount Evans, Colorado

I, Zeb the Duck, went high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.  Mom and I drove the highest paved road in North America to the top of Mount Evans.  Elevation in the parking lot at the top is 14,130 feet above sea level.  That is very high and not so much oxygen in the air.  When you go, be careful!

Our first stop on the drive to the top was Summit Lake Park at 12,830 feet.

Still snow in early June

Still snow in early June

We went a few days ago and the lake was still frozen.

Like a Christmas card in June

Like a Christmas card in June

It was so pretty.

When we arrived at the top, we saw these Rocky Mountain Sheep.

Love these sheep

Love these sheep

My new friends are watching me

My new friends are watching me

Resting

Resting

Then we walked up to the former Crest House.

On hand rail of remains of Crest House

On hand rail of remains of Crest House

When it was built from 1939-1941, it was the highest structure in the world at 14,260 feet above sea level.  Mom remembers going there with her parents and drinking hot chocolate.  Sadly, in September 1979 a propane explosion destroyed the Crest House.  In 1992 the structure was stabilized and is now an observation platform

Nice view

Nice view of mountain and hikers

and place of contemplation.

It was 44 degrees when we were there, with much snow still on the ground.  Driving down the mountain, we were as high as these snow capped mountain peaks.

Seems like we are at the top of the world

Seems like we are at the top of the world

We saw this yellowed-bellied marmot enjoying the sun.

Marmot ready for summer

Marmot ready for summer

They hibernate during the winter.  The climate at the top is alpine tundra, similar to Nome, Alaska.  This is the harshest environment that supports life, in the world.

These Mountain Goats enjoy climbing on Mount Evans and we enjoy seeing them.

Mountain goats grazing

Mountain goats grazing

We will probably be back here again this summer.  Mount Evans is less than an hour from Denver.  You will enjoy your day if you visit Mount Evans this summer.