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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrMount Evans is one of the Chicago Peaks – the highest of them all, for that matter – in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It is one of the Fourteener s, summits that are higher than 14,000 feet, and is located in the Mount Evans Wilderness, about 50 miles west of Denver. The mountain is one of the most characteristic and prominent peaks in the Front Range, together with Longs Peak, Pikes Peak, and neighboring Mount Bierstadt dominating the western Great Plains. Watching over Denver, Mount Evans rises up more than 9,000 feet above the surrounding area and can be seen from as far as 100 miles away to the east and from many miles in any other direction.
There is a road that leads all the way to the top, the so-called Mount Evans Scenic Byway, which is in fact the highest paved road in all of North America. The road winds up more than 9,000 vertical feet from the mountain’s base to its spectacular summit, passing through no less than five climate zones on the way. This scenic road is without question one of the greatest attractions in Colorado. When tourism first started to boom in the state, Mount Evans and Denver were always in competition with Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs.
HistoryOriginally known as “Mount Rosa” or “Mount Rosalie”, Mount Evans was first ascended in 1863 by Albert Bierstadt and his guide, William Newton Byers, who spent several days painting and drawing sketches of the mountain before making the attempt to summit it. The mountain was renamed in 1895, after the former Governor of the Colorado Territory, John Evans.
It was in those last decades of the 19th century that the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs were competing for the hordes of tourists that came from the eastern United States. In 1888, the Cascade and Pikes Peak Toll Road Company finished and opened a 16-mile road to the summit of Pikes Peak, which almost immediately became a major tourist attraction, drawing away tourists from the Denver area. As a countermove, Denver mayor Robert W. Speer initiated the construction of a road to the top of Mount Evans, a project that began in 1917 and was finished in 1930.
Geography and GeologyMount Evans is the highest mountain peak in the Chicago Peaks massif. Other nearby peaks include Mount Spalding, Mount Bierstadt, and The Sawtooth . The mountain range is home to a minimum of seven glacial cirques, which are the deepest in the entire Colorado Rockies. Most of the massif is part of the Mount Evans Wilderness area, which is again part of the larger Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest.
Much of Mount Evans’ rock is granodiorite, a type of rock similar to granite, which has been modified by intrusions of pegmatite and quartz. The mountain originated from the Mount Evans Batholith, a huge piece of rock that was formed after magna intruded into the Earth’s crust, cooled down and hardened. This happened about 1.4 billion years ago. Pikes Peak and Half Dome in Yellowstone National Park, for instance, are batholiths as well.
Visiting Mount EvansThe Mount Evans Scenic Byway is hands down the biggest attraction on the mountain. The paved road is 14 miles long and climbs to more than 14,000 feet above sea level, passing through five climate zones and along beautiful lakes and spectacular lookout points. The whole road is generally open between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The section between Echo Lake and the summit is close in winter because of snowfall.
Besides driving up to the summit, it is also possible to cycle up or take on a challenge and hike all the way to the summit. There are three marked hiking trails along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Eight non-marked trails allow further exploration of the Mount Evans Wilderness.
Keep in mind that this is a toll road. Access fees are $ 10 USD per vehicle with up to 12 passengers, $ 25 USD per vehicle with 13 to 40 passengers, and $ 40 USD per vehicles with more than 40 passengers. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and hikers pay $ 3.00 USD . The passes that are purchased with these fees are valid for three days. People who travel up the road without stopping on the way can visit for free.
How to Get ThereFrom Denver, follow Interstate 70 west for about 32 miles to exit 240 in the town of Idaho Springs. From Idaho Springs, head south on Highway 103 to the junction of Highway 5, which is the location of the entrance to the scenic byway and an information center.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksOther natural landmarks in Colorado are Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park and, of course, Rocky Mountains National Park.
In Denver, there are several attractions that are worth visiting, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo and the Colorado State Capitol.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 19, 2015