Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in America. Mt. Evans will not only offer spectacular views on the way up, but this is an easy first 14er hike for kids.
The drive up Mt. Evans is one of the most popular and spectacular in all of Colorado. The base of the mountain is approximately 2 hours from Denver and is a well attended tourist attraction. The drive is 28 miles and gains 7,000 feet in elevation. Mt. Evans is apart of the Chicago Peaks of the Front Range.
The entrance to Mt. Evans is next to Echo Lake Lodge, a quaint little gift shop and restaurant. There can be a long line of cars that wait to pay the fee ($15 per car, note the cash lane is much faster than the credit card lane) to head up the mountain.
Once you enter there is so much to look at! Aspens, mountain goats, mountains for miles, big horn sheep, marmots, tiny Denver, and Pikes Peak. And just like driving Pikes Peak, there are some nail-biting switchbacks and drop offs.
Once at the top of the road, there is a small parking lot, The Crest House, and Meyer-Womble Observatory. (If you are interested in the history of these places check out this book here).
The Crest House used to be a restaurant until an explosion occurred in 1979 at the restaurant, leaving behind only the rock foundation.
The Meyer-Womble Observatory is a full working observatory that is run by the University of Denver, and contributes to cosmic ray research.
After grabbing some photo ops, there is a short trail (approximately .25 miles long) to reach the actual summit of Mt. Evans. This trail is rocky but do-able for kids. The 2 older boys, ages 5 and 3, had no problem going up and down. This time last year Erick took our middle son here for the day. At the age of 2 he walked up and Erick carried him down.
If you get lucky and go on a clear day, you should be able to see for hundreds of miles. There is a drop off so we did not let go of the boys once we were at the summit.
Tips to know before you go:
- We went on a day when it was in the mid 80’s in Colorado Springs. At the summit of Mt. Evans it was 35° and very windy. The boys were wearing their winter jackets.
- Bring lots of water. Even in the car your body can lose water quickly.
- Gas up beforehand. 28 miles of mountain roads and there is no place to gas up.
- Check ahead of time to make sure that the road is actually open. The upper portion closes for the winter months but when it closes for the season seems to vary by year (seems to be open only from Memorial Day-Labor Day, but check as each year is different).
Boys’ ages at time of hike: 5, 3, and 1. Not stroller friendly for the hike, baby was in the Ergo.