|Elevation||14,271 ft (4350 m) |
|Prominence||2770 ft (844 m)|
|Isolation||9.79 mi (15.76 km)|
|Location||Clear Creek County, Colorado, United States|
|Parent range||Front Range|
|Topo map|| USGS 7.5' topographic map |
Mount Evans, Colorado
1863 by Albert Bierstadt
1872 by Judge Lunt
|Easiest route|| Summit Lake Trail |
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Mount Evans is the highest peak in the namesake Mount Evans Wilderness in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,271-foot (4,350 m) fourteener is located 13.4 miles (21.6 km) southwest by south (bearing 214°) of Idaho Springs in Clear Creek County, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide between Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest.
The peak is one of the characteristic Front Range peaks, dominating the western skyline of the Great Plains along with Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, and nearby Mount Bierstadt. Mount Evans can be seen from over 100 miles (160 km) to the east, and many miles in other directions. Mount Evans dominates the Denver metropolitan area skyline, rising over 9,000 feet (2,700 m) above the area. Mount Evans can be seen from points south of Castle Rock, up to (65 miles (105 km) south) and as far north as Fort Collins (95 miles (153 km) north), and from areas near Limon (105 miles (169 km) east). In the early days of Colorado tourism, Mount Evans and Denver were often in competition with Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs.
Mount Evans, along with Echo Lake, was designated as a historic site by the American Physical Society in 2017, commemorating the many cosmic-ray physics experiments conducted on the mountain between 1935 and 1960.
Mount Evans is the highest peak in a massif. The peak is 35 miles (56 km) west of Denver, "as the crow flies", and approximately 51 miles (82 km) by road, via Idaho Springs. Other peaks in the massif are:
At least 7 deep glacial cirques cut into the massif. The cirques around Mount Evans are the deepest cirques in the Colorado Rockies.The bottoms of many of these contain tarns, the most notable being:
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway consists of State Highway 103 from Idaho Springs, Colorado on I-70 about 13 miles (21 km) to Echo Lake, and Colorado 5 from Echo Lake 15 miles (24 km), ending at a parking area and turnaround just below the summit. The latter has long been the highest paved road in North America (5th highest in the world) and is only open in the summer. Colorado 103 continues east from Echo Lake to Squaw Pass, from which it connects, via Clear Creek County Road 103 and Jefferson County Road 66, to Bergen Park from which Colorado 74 leads to Evergreen Colorado.
The Guanella Pass Scenic Byway passes within 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Mount Evans, linking Georgetown and I-70 with Grant and US 285, 22 miles (35 km) to the south.
A marked hiking trail roughly parallels the highway from Echo Lake to the summit, and a second marked trail links Guanella Pass to Mount Bierstadt. A difficult side route of the latter climbs to the northeastern peak of The Sawtooth, from which an easy ridge leads to the summit of Mount Evans.
Most of the Mount Evans massif is now part of the Mount Evans Wilderness area in Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest. The exception is a narrow corridor along the highway from Echo Lake that is excluded from the wilderness.Summit Lake Park and Echo Lake Park, are part of the historic Denver Mountain Parks system.
Mount Evans was originally known as Mount Rosa or Mount Rosalie. Albert Bierstadt named it for the wife of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, whom he later married. The name is also a reference to Monte Rosa, the highest peak in Switzerland. Bierstadt and his guide, William Newton Byers, approached the mountain along Chicago Creek from Idaho Springs in 1863, and spent several days painting sketches of the mountain from the Chicago Lakes before climbing to Summit Lake and onward to the summit.Bierstadt's sketch, Mountain Lake, accurately portrays the view of Mount Spalding over the Chicago Lakes. His painting, A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie , is based on that and other sketches.
A second claim to be the first to ascend is attributed to Judge Lunt and a friend in 1872.[ citation needed ] William Henry Jackson, attached to the Hayden Survey, visited the Chicago Lakes in 1873, where he took numerous photographs; the summit of Mount Evans is barely visible in several of these, peeking over the col between upper Chicago Lake and Summit Lake. The Hayden survey reported that Mount Rosalie was 14,330 feet above sea level, measured by triangulation.
In 1895, 30 years after he was forced to resign as governor because of his part in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre and its subsequent cover-up, Colorado's legislature officially renamed the peak in honor of John Evans , second governor of the Colorado Territory from 1862 to 1865.
The history of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is part of a larger story of the Denver Mountain Parks system. It ultimately began when the City and County of Denver initiated the construction of a series of automobile "scenic loops" to allow Denverites to explore the mountains.One road circuit, Circle G, was to traverse the ridge to Squaw Pass on to Echo Lake, culminate in a climb up Mt. Evans, and loop down to Idaho Springs. In order to achieve this goal, Denver Mountain Parks acquired a series of land parcels, including the acquisition of Bergen Park in 1915. The Bear Creek segment from the Genesee saddle to Bergen Park was finished in 1915, while the Denver Mountain Parks committee worked to make Mt. Evans a National Park, going as far as getting support in Congress for the construction of a "cement road" to the mountain. The first mile was paid for by Denver with the understanding that the State Highway Commission would do the rest. The Denver Mountain Parks committee was not without disagreement and setbacks, however. $30,000 was acquired early in 1916 to construct the Bergen Park to Squaw Pass segment and all seemed to be flowing towards the goal of Mount Evans when the mayor of Denver, Robert W. Speer, appointed W.F.R. Mills as the Commissioner of Improvements, who summarily stopped the construction of the road, stating that "It is a road that starts nowhere, ends nowhere, and never gets there". After studying the issue, Mills later recanted and became a supporter of the park system, and the segment between Bergen Park and Squaw Pass was constructed beginning in the spring of 1918. The next act was to get Mount Evans classified as a National Park, but 1916 was a tumultuous time between the National Park system and the U.S. Forest Service, who currently held claim to the mountain. Already in bitter struggle to prevent the formation of a National Park Service, Chief Forester Graves adamantly blocked the relinquishment of this area of National Forest, in exchange for Forest Service development of the area including the immediate construction of a road between Squaw Pass and Echo Lake (Colorado). This joint exercise between the City and County of Denver, the U.S. Congress, the State Highway System, and now the Forest Service would be completed with help of a newly formed Federal Agency, the Bureau of Public Roads. In 1918, the Bureau of Public Roads provided the plan to construct 9.41 miles of road from Soda Pass (now called Squaw Pass) to Echo Lake beginning in 1919. By 1920, the road had only managed to be constructed to Chief Mountain. By October 1 of 1921, the Bureau of Public Roads had completed construction to Echo Lake. The first survey for the road from Echo Lake to the peak of Mount Evans was made in 1923, finishing the layout by January 1924 despite a flu outbreak in the camp, damaging windstorms, and nearly insurmountable environmental hardships. Battling the unusual problems that come with high-altitude construction (steam shovels performing only half as effective at high altitude, difficulty of hauling coal and water, horse suicide, etc.) the last 600 feet were finally built by hand, being completed in 1930.
The ruins of the Crest House (1941–1942) sit nearby. Once containing both a restaurant and a gift shop, it burned down on September 1, 1979 and was not rebuilt, but remains as a place of contemplation today. The rock foundation and walls remain as a windbreak for mountain travelers, and the viewing platform is one of Colorado's premier scenic overlooks.
Mt. Evans also hosts the annual Mt. Evans Hill Climb, a 27.4 miles (44.1 km) bicycle race with a total of 6,915 feet (2,108 m) of climbing.
The atmospheric pressure on the summit is around 460 torr (610 mb), while a standard atmosphere (sea level) is 760 torr (1013 mb). At this pressure, many people suffer from altitude sickness.
The climate on the summit of Mount Evans can be extreme. The mean annual temperature on the summit is 18 °F (-8 °C). Temperatures often fall below 0 °F (-18 °C), and occasionally fall as low as -40 °F (-40 °C). The highest temperature recorded on the summit was 65 °F (18 °C), and below freezing temperatures may occur at any time of year. The maximum wind speed measured was 107 knots (123 mph or 198 km/h), while the average is from 25 to 30 knots (28 to 35 mph or 46 to 56 km/h). When the wind speed is over 15 knots (17 mph or 28 km/h), the wind is almost always from the west-southwest.
At 2:51 pm on July 28, 2012, a weak, short-lived tornado touched down northeast of Mount Evans' summit at an elevation estimated by the National Weather Service of 11,900 feet (3,600 m) above sea level. The tornado was the second highest recorded in the United States but did not cause any damage because it was above tree line.
The slopes of Mount Evans include several distinct environments. Below Echo Lake, the montane forest is dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and in some areas, blue spruce (Picea pungens), with patches of quaking aspen. Echo Lake is high enough to be in the subalpine forest, where Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) dominate.
At tree line, the trees are reduced to krummholz, battered and twisted by wind and frost. The bristlecone pine grove on the east slope of Mount Goliath () contains at least one tree that sprouted in the year 403 AD. For many years, these were the oldest known trees in Colorado, but in 1992, trees dating to 442 BC were found in the southern Front Range and South Park. The Mount Goliath Natural Area, jointly managed by the United States Forest Service and the Denver Botanic Gardens protects this grove of old trees.
Above tree line, the landscape is mostly alpine tundra. In the lower tundra, dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) is common, along with a wide variety of flowering plants such as Rocky Mountain Columbine (Aquilegia saximontana) and various species of dwarf alpine sunflowers. Toward the summit, the vegetation shrinks until the largest plants are little more than compact green cushions in the cracks between the rocks. Here, Alpine Forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) plants with hundreds of blossoms occupy areas of only a few square centimeters and rise only centimeters above the soil surface.
The tundra around Summit Lake, particularly in Summit Lake Flats, the gently sloping area east of the lake, is frequently described as the southernmost area of arctic tundra in the world because it is water saturated and underlain by an extensive area of permafrost.
The top predators found in the area are mountain lions (Puma concolor), anywhere on the mountain, and black bears (Ursus americanus), generally below tree line. These prey on bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus),as well as one of the highest densities of yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris) in the region. Above tree-line, pikas (Ochotona princeps) are common. Below tree line, elk (Cervus canadensis) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are common.
Among birds, the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus) are present on the mountain, but so well camouflaged that they are difficult to see even when almost underfoot.Brown-capped rosy finches (Leucosticte australis), pipits and rock wrens (Salpinctes obsoletus) are also seen near the summit.
Mount Evans was carved from the rock of the Mount Evans Batholith, formed by an intrusion of magma into the earth's crust about 1.4 billion years ago (in the Mesoproterozoic Era of the Precambrian Eon). Much of the rock is granodiorite, a close relative of granite, modified by later intrusions of quartz and pegmatite.
The body of this batholith has been deeply cut by glacial cirques and canyons. Each of the nearby lakes, Summit Lake, the Chicago Lakes, Lincoln Lake and Abyss Lake are tarns located in cirques or glacial canyons surrounding Mount Evans.Echo Lake was dammed by a lateral moraine of the glacier that formed Chicago Canyon. Prior to glaciation, Mount Evans, Long's Peak and several other summits were monadnocks in an upland Peneplain. Glaciation has not entirely destroyed the ancient Flattop Peneplain, named for Flattop Mountain in Grand County. The peaks of these mountains are all remnant features of this peneplain.
The easy access to the summit provided by the Mount Evans Highway has made it a popular location for scientific research. Arthur H. Compton conducted pioneering research on cosmic rays on the mountain in 1931, shortly after the road to the summit was completed. The University of Denver built a pair of A-frame buildings on the summit to house cosmic-ray researchers.By the 1950s, Mount Evans, the Aiguille du Midi, the Pic du Midi and the Jungfrau were considered the premier locations for high-altitude physics experiments.
The first accurate measurement of the lifetime of the muon (originally called the mesotron) by Bruno Rossi in 1939, used sites at Mount Evans, Echo Lake, Denver and Chicago. This experiment verified the reality of time dilation, one of the key predictions of Einstein's theory of relativity.
In the summer of 1948, MIT, Cornell, Princeton, NYU and the universities of Michigan and Chicago and Denver conducted an intensive experimental program on the mountain and at Echo Lake. Bruno Rossi and Giuseppe Cocconi were among those involved.
In 1965, the Midwestern Universities Research Association began doing high-energy physics experiments on the summit using cosmic rays to explore energies above those accessible with the most powerful particle accelerators of the day. The first experiments were conducted in a semi-trailer, and then in 1966, a temporary laboratory building was erected near the summit. This building was moved to Echo Lake that fall, where research continued until 1972.
The University of Denver erected the 0.6m (24 inch) Ritchey–Chrétien telescope in its summit laboratory in 1972. This was used to observe comets Kohoutek and Halley in 1972 and 1986. In 1996, the University finished construction on the Meyer–Womble Observatory, near the site of the A-frame laboratory buildings. At 14,148 feet (4,312 m) this was, from 1972 to 1999, the world's highest optical observatory. It is now the third-highest.
Mount Evans has also been the site of significant research in the life sciences. In 1940, for example, it was the site of a significant study of high-altitude physiology.Pioneering studies on the effects of altitude training on track athletes were conducted on Mount Evans in 1966.
Mount Evans Road is also noteworthy as a high-altitude vehicle testing venue for auto manufacturers.With full visibility on a public road, most manufacturers' road test teams tend to conceal their designs with various creative styles of camouflage, e.g. wild zebra paint motif, possibly paired with other temporary body coverings.
Mount Evans is named after territorial Governor John Evans, instigator of the Sand Creek Massacre, which resulted in the death of between 150-500 Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans. Attempts have been made to change the name in Colorado due to the history and actions of Governor Evans.In 2020, Governor Polis established The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board, which includes Mount Evans for a possible renaming.
Longs Peak is a high and prominent mountain in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,259-foot (4346 m) fourteener is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, 9.6 miles (15.5 km) southwest by south of the Town of Estes Park, Colorado, United States. Longs Peak is the northernmost fourteener in the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in Boulder County and Rocky Mountain National Park. The mountain was named in honor of explorer Stephen Harriman Long and is featured on the Colorado state quarter.
Rocky Mountain National Park is an American national park located approximately 76 mi (122 km) northwest of Denver International Airport in north-central Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the center of the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River located in the park's northwestern region. The main features of the park include mountains, alpine lakes and a wide variety of wildlife within various climates and environments, from wooded forests to mountain tundra.
The Front Range is a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America located in the central portion of the U.S. State of Colorado, and southeastern portion of the U.S. State of Wyoming. It is the first mountain range encountered as one goes westbound along the 40th parallel north across the Great Plains of North America.
The Saguache Range is a high and extensive mountain range in central Colorado which includes eight of the twenty highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, including Mount Elbert, at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) elevation, the highest peak in the Rockies.
Mount Bierstadt is a high mountain summit of the Colorado Peaks in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,065-foot (4,287 m) fourteener is located in the Mount Evans Wilderness of Pike National Forest, 9.4 miles (15.1 km) south by east of the Town of Georgetown in Clear Creek County, Colorado, United States. It was named in honor of Albert Bierstadt, the American landscape painter who made the first recorded summit of the mountain in 1863.
Grays Peak is the tenth-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,278-foot (4352 m) fourteener is the highest summit of the Front Range and the highest point on the Continental Divide and the Continental Divide Trail in North America. Grays Peak is located in Arapahoe National Forest, 3.9 miles (6.2 km) southeast by east of Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide between Clear Creek and Summit counties. The peak is the highest point in both counties.
Mount Lincoln is the eighth-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,293-foot (4356.5 m) fourteener is the highest summit of the Mosquito Range and the eleventh-highest summit in the contiguous United States. Mount Lincoln is located in Pike National Forest, 5.2 miles (8.3 km) north-northwest of the Town of Alma in Park County, Colorado, United States. The summit of Mount Lincoln is the highest point in Park County and the entire drainage basin of the Missouri River. The mountain was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
Mount Antero is the highest summit of the southern Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,276-foot (4351.4 m) fourteener is located in San Isabel National Forest, 12.2 miles (19.6 km) southwest by south of the Town of Buena Vista in Chaffee County, Colorado, United States. The mountain is named in honor of Chief Antero of the Uintah band of the Ute people.
Echo Lake Park is a park located along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway about 33.5 mi (54 km) west of Denver, Colorado. The park provides a stone shelter with picnic tables and barbecue grills on one end of the lake, and the 1926 Echo Lake Lodge and an Arapaho National Forest campground are found at the other. Access to backpacking trails, including the Chicago Lakes trail and Lincoln Lakes trail, can be found adjacent to the lake. The park is part of the Denver Mountain Parks system.
Quandary Peak is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America and is the most commonly climbed fourteener in Colorado. It has nearly the same elevation as Castle Peak and Mount Evans. It lies in Summit County and within the White River National Forest about 6 miles (10 km) south-southwest of the town of Breckenridge.
State Highway 5 (SH 5) is a 14.89-mile-long (23.96 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Colorado and is the highest paved road in North America. However, this is not a through highway; it is simply a scenic spur route to the summit of Mount Evans, altitude 14,264 feet. The southern terminus of State Highway 5 is at a parking lot somewhat below the actual summit, and the northern terminus is at SH 103 at Echo Lake.
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway begins at the Idaho Springs Visitor Center. Take Exit 241 off Interstate 70 for 1 mile. Stop at the Visitor Center for information, then continue on Miner Street to 13th Avenue which is State Highway 103 and continues on State Highway 5 through a corridor between the Mount Evans Wilderness where it ends near the summit of Mount Evans. The byway is 28 miles (45 km) in length and gains over 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of elevation. Achieving a final elevation of 14,130 feet (4,310 m), this is the highest paved road in North America.
Summit Lake Park is a park located along Mount Evans Scenic Byway about 64 miles (100 km) west of Denver, Colorado. The park is 160 acres (0.65 km²) in size and contains alpine tundra. Land to the east of the lake is in a state of permafrost which helps to prevent drainage of the area. During the summer, the park is filled with wildflowers, some of which have not been found anywhere else outside of the Arctic Circle. The park is named after Summit Lake, the headwaters of Bear Creek.
State Highway 103 in the U.S. state of Colorado runs from Interstate 70 (I-70), U.S. Route 6 and US 40 at Idaho Springs to county roads 151 and 103 at Squaw Pass. The 13 miles (19 km) from Idaho Springs to SH 5 forms about half of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
The Mount Evans Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness Area in Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest about 30 miles (48 km) west of Denver, Colorado. The wilderness area is named after Mount Evans.
Mount Sniktau is a high mountain summit in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,240-foot (4,036 m) thirteener is located in Arapaho National Forest, 1.6 miles (2.5 km) northeast of Loveland Pass in Clear Creek County, Colorado, United States.
A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie is an 1866 landscape oil painting by German-American painter Albert Bierstadt that was inspired by sketches created on an 1863 expedition.
Bierstadt Lake is located in Larimer County, Colorado and within the Rocky Mountain National Park. Near McHenrys Peak and Longs Peak, there are "spectacular views" of the Continental Divide at the lake. The Bierstadt Lake Trailhead is located about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from the turn-off at U.S. Route 36 into the Rocky Mountain National Park. During the summer, shuttle buses provide transportation to the trailhead.
History of Rocky Mountain National Park began when Paleo-Indians traveled along what is now Trail Ridge Road to hunt and forage for food. Ute and Arapaho people subsequently hunted and camped in the area. In 1820, the Long Expedition, led by Stephen H. Long for whom Longs Peak was named, approached the Rockies via the Platte River. Settlers began arriving in the mid-1800s, displacing the Native Americans who mostly left the area voluntarily by 1860, while others were removed to reservations by 1878.