Magazine article Sunset

High on Mt. Evans

Magazine article Sunset

High on Mt. Evans

Article excerpt

West of Denver, take a drive into an amazing, lofty world

Photographs by Dan Leeth

The road to the top can be a bumpy ride, especially when it's the highest paved road in North America. In 28 miles, the Mt. Evans Scenic and Historic Byway climbs more than 6,500 feet to the 14,265-foot summit. In those last miles, the road can be as rumpled as an unmade bed-the extreme climate buckles the asphalt.

But don't let a few bumps in the road deter you; it's a spectacular drive. En route, you can spread your picnic blanket by a glassy lake, hike among stands of weathered bristlecone pines, or look for grazing mountain goats.

Starting at an elevation of 7,500 feet in Idaho Springs, the route, also called the Mt. Evans Highway, heads southwest along State 103, and over the next 14 miles climbs to 10,600-foot-high Echo Lake. Pause here for a picnic, or continue to the junction of State 5 and have a meal at Echo Lake Lodge (9-5 daily; 13264 State 103; 303/5672138), a restaurant and gift shop dating from the 1920s.

Turn south onto State 5, stopping at the Mt. Evans Entrance Station ($10 per auto). This is the byway's highest stretch, open only in summer. …

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