Colorado's Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. As you would expect, the views up to Mount Evans are breathtaking, with alpine lakes, massive granite walls and stands of twisted, ancient bristlecone pine. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Note: The Mount Evans Highway (Colorado Hwy. 5, from Echo Lake to the summit) will require timed-entry reservations for summer 2021 from Recreation.gov starting in June. More information coming soon.
• As the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans Road rises to a height of 14,130 feet above sea level (learn about all 58 14ers here and check out an awesome infographic that describes what makes them so special to Coloradans). Many clouds don't even make it that high, but you can. Begin your trip in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs. While the Argo Gold Mine and Mill that's part of the area's mining past no longer functions or supplies gold, it does provide tours. You can also check out the town's past at the Idaho Springs Heritage Museum.
• The town is also known for the natural hot spring pools at Indian Springs Resort, which is a great place to relax road-weary muscles after your trip.
• From town, travel south on CO Hwy. 103 to the junction of CO Hwy. 5, the entrance to Mount Evans Road. Groves of pine trees first greet you on this section, but gradually give way once timberline is breeched. Riding along the exposed mountainside yields magnificent views of glacier-cut valleys and a seemingly endless horizon of sharp, rocky peaks.
• Mountain goats and bighorn sheep often graze roadside and are accustomed enough to visitors in the area that they'll usually lazily stare back at you as you snap a picture. Trees aren't the only things you leave behind along this route — the guardrails also disappear up here, so use caution as you traverse the switchbacks to the top.
Portions closed in winter? Yes (from Echo Lake to the Mount Evans summit)
Distance: 49 miles
Suggested Time: Allow 2 hours
Colorado is home to 26 Scenic and Historic Byways, 13 of which are also federally designated America's Byways. Read about all 26 in our Quick Guide to Colorado's Scenic & Historic Byways; check out our new Colorado byways microsite with videos, trip tips and more; or view our virtual Colorado Byways Guide.
And read about other famous Colorado mountains.
Photos: Mount Evans, mountain goats on Mount Evans, views from Mount Evans.