Colorado is famed for its ‘fourteeners’ – its 14,000-foot peaks – and to get to most of them you need to hike for several miles at least. Not so with Mt. Evans, where the highest road in the US (and a Colorado Scenic Byway) ascends to within a couple hundred feet of the summit. In the process, you pass beautiful spruce-fir woodland, some of the oldest bristlecone pines in the world, and extensive alpine tundra.
From a birding perspective, Mt. Evans is most famed as one of the easiest locations to find Brown-capped Rosy-finch – look along the trail around Summit Lake. At the summit, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat, American Pika, and Yellow-bellied Marmots are common residents. Also look for White-tailed Ptarmigan, and down in the forest, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Clark’s Nutcracker, and others. Echo Lake Lodge, at the base of the Mt. Evans Highway, has good hummingbird feeders during the summer months, and the adjacent Echo Lake has had breeding Barrow’s Goldeneye the past few years. When open, Mt. Evans is very busy and though animals may seem tame and tolerant of people, they are still wild and potentially dangerous. Be sure to visit early and always keep a safe distance from wildlife.
County: Clear Creek
Directions: From I-70: take exit 240, CO 103/Squaw Pass Rd. and go south for 13 miles to Echo Lake Lodge. Continue south onto CO 5/Mount Evans Rd. to the fee station. Summit Lake is on the west side of CO 5, 9 miles above the lodge; the peak is another 5 miles above Summit Lake.
Dates of Access: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day to the Summit. Open Memorial Day to First Weekend in October to Summit Lake
Ownership: USFS / Denver Mountain Parks
Admission: Recreation User fee: $15.00 for all sites
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations
Lodging: Lodging Evergreen and Idaho Springs, camping at Echo Lake Campground
Handicapped Access: ADA access to some facilities and trails