Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The First DETOUR - Mt. Evans

The first DETOUR…
Located about 3.5 hours from the city of Denver, it is not exactly close to the suburbs…however the drive comes packaged with a truly unique experience that blogs are written about! So, who’s complaining? Not me! Plus, there are several must-have detours and attractions along the way to keep your appetite for outdoors and nature going.
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is also known as the Road-into-the-sky-drive.
One such detour was the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway also known as the Road-into-the-sky-drive. No points for guessing why it is called so. In just 28 miles, this beautifully paved byway climbs more than 7,000 feet to reach an altitude of 14,264 feet! The upper section of this road is the highest paved highway in North America.
Although, the vantage point from the seat of our car was very picturesque and comfortable, don’t be surprised to see avid cyclists, training uphill along the way to the summit. (Click on view more photos) With steep gradients amplified by the elevation, it calls for sheer endurance, determination and lung power.
Along the way, you pass through alpine lakes – Echo Lake and Summit Lake, several trail heads, trees and forested areas to finally reach elevations above the tree line. The Byway is dispersed with an amalgam of hardy mountain wildflowers, lichens and grasses where rock-jumping mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be spotted calmly grazing in the tundra. This along with the partial snow-capped mountains adds dramatic color and vibrancy to the viewing palette.
Closer to the summit you get to see the big picture—the entire Front Range and Continental Divide stretching out for miles in all directions. This highest of Rocky Mountain highs brings you to the rarefied world above timberline. We were told that it could be 90 degrees in Denver and 40 degrees at the top of Mount Evans...and it was!! Also, we are talking“Rockies” here….they are capable of creating their own weather systems…one moment clear and sunny, and next total clouds with white-out conditions and blowing snow!! Be prepared for sudden weather drifts. We were lucky to enjoy beautiful sunny, clear skies on our visit in July.
I overheard a fellow hiker mention that there are plenty of recreational activities to indulge in at Mt. Evans – Hiking the many trails, horseback riding, fishing in clear mountain lakes, camping, biking to name a few. Of-course the winter weather brings ski enthusiasts as well to this part of the Rockies.
Photographing the summit marker on top of Mt. Evans at 14258 feet adds proof to the pudding (or in my case to this blog). It’s definitely a memory you want to keep and relive for a long time to come.

TIP: Fall is a particularly delightful time of year to explore this area. However, due to the unpredictable weather conditions do call ahead for road closures and other park restrictions before heading out on a long drive. Located just off Highway I-70, in Idaho springs area, the article is aptly named a Detour for a reason. 

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