The Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes you up to over 14,000 feet where you'll see mountain vistas, lakes, ancient bristlecone pines, mountain goats and more. In fact, Mt. Evans is probably the best place in Colorado to see and photograph mountain goats. They seem to tolerate people pretty well which is great when you want to photograph them. :-)
So, if you're ready, here are the directions to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway: from the Denver area, follow I-70 west to exit 240 at Idaho Springs. As you come off the exit, turn left, (south), on CO Hwy. 103. From there, it's about 14 miles to the fee station. You'll pass Echo Lake, (on your right), and shortly after that is the Echo Lake Lodge; also on your right. Immediately after the Echo Lake Lodge, turn right onto CO Hwy. 5, which is the Mt. Evans road. Proceed to the fee station.
Speaking of the fee station, the fee for driving the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is $10.00 per vehicle for up to 12 occupants, and your pass will be valid for 3 days. If you're on a motorcycle, bicycle, or hiking in, the fee is $3.00 per person and is also valid for 3 days.
As you start driving the Mount Evans road, it actually looks pretty tame at first. Lots of trees on both sides of the road, and the curves are easy to negotiate. But don't get too used to it because it won't look like this all the way to the top. :-)
The first stop-off point you'll come to along the Mt. Evans road is the Mount Goliath Natural Area. There isn't a whole lot of parking here but there is a little. If you're lucky enough to see a spot, I suggest you grab it. There are short trails here where you can walk around and see the bristlecone pines, as well as the surrounding mountains.
After you leave the Mount Goliath Natural Area, and get yourself back onto this scenic road, you'll start noticing that you're getting higher and higher. You'll be able to see Echo Lake below you, which is where you came from before you got onto the Mt. Evans road.
Before you know it, you'll be above treeline and the scenery will look like this. If you have clouds like we did on this day, keep an eye on them. You don't want to be caught above treeline in a thunder and lightning storm.
The next stop-off point you'll come to along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is Summit Lake. (You'll see the sign for it.) Summit Lake is not at the summit of Mt. Evans so I'm not sure how it got that name but it looks like this. We were there in June so the lake was still mostly frozen.
After Summit Lake, the road continues to climb, but it's only a short drive to the end of the road and the parking area. Once there, you can get out of the car to stretch your legs and survey the scenery that's all around you.
Here's part of what you see when you reach the end of the Mt. Evans road. Pretty scenic don't you think? I guess that's why they call it the Mount Evans Scenic Byway!
As I was walking around enjoying the views, what did I see but this mountain goat. Although I can't guarantee you'll see the goats here, they seem to like to hang out around the summit area of Mt. Evans since we've seen them here on several occasions.
The next thing I knew, the goat had climbed the stairs...
He then turned around and came back down the stairs. The whole thing was very amusing to watch!
Shortly after that, more mountain goats started showing up and this one was so kind as to pose for me.
Then I saw this baby and he was kind enough to stand on the rock and look cute for me. :-)
Soon after that we decided to call it a day, and started heading back down the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. In a short while we saw this marmot on the road, so do keep an eye out for them. We usually see them hanging out on rocks but they can be anywhere.
How do you like this part of the road? We didn't like it too much but as long as you're careful, you should be fine.
Another animal that you might see on Mt. Evans is bighorn sheep. They tend to be more skittish than the mountain goats and they were on the move again after I took this picture. As you can see, they kind of blend in with the rocks and dirt.
Well, that was our day on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Although the road was now in the shadows, we at least still had sun on the mountains. I hope you have as good a day there as we did!