Last Thursday, Sam, Andrew and I hiked to the summit of Mount Evans, 14,264 feet in elevation, the 14th highest peak in Colorado.
However, our hike lasted only a few short minutes
because we drove most of the way on the highest paved road in North America.
From the I-70, west of Denver, near Idaho Springs, it is about 22 miles to the top, with 5,500 feet of elevation gain. It is a good road, one lane in each direction, but there is no guard rail and there are some sections where you would rather not be in the outside lane when another car is coming from the opposite direction. There is a small parking lot near the top, a nice outhouse, an observatory,
and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains,
including nearby Mt. Bierstadt, also a fourteener, and Summit Lake, about 2,000 feet below.
Best of all, we found many, many bighorn sheep
and mountain goats,
most congregated near the summit. The bighorn sheep were all ewes, young rams or lambs.
Apparently the rams are isolated from the rest of the sheep this time of year. We saw a number of different groups of bighorn sheep, the last one, on the way down, a group of over 20 that was walking up the road.
There was a mountain goat and a young kid
right outside the outhouse
and then a group of 29 just off the road on the way back down. The impact of the elevation was quite staggering. With no time to acclimatize, when we got out of the car near the summit, our breathing was short and we were a little dizzy. Apparently, what Yellowstone is for bears and buffalo, Mount Evans is for bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Trip Advisor rates this the number 2 attraction in the Denver area. Although reaching the top of a fourteener this way does not have the same rewards as the old fashioned way, it does offer a different type of experience and the bighorn sheep and mountain goats are the icing on the cake.