Mount Evans is the highest summit of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range. It is the highest paved road in North America. The prominent 14,271-foot fourteener is in the Mount Evans Wilderness. (See: Juniper Pass)
Begin in Idaho Springs riding southwest on SH 103, Squaw Pass Road
Continue riding to Mount Evans Road, SH 5--mile 13.2
Carry on riding south, southwest to Mount Evans Summit--mile 27.5
Turn around and finish in Idaho Springs--55 miles
The 27.5 mile ride from Idaho Springs will take you as high as you can go on a road bike in North America. The total ascent from Idaho Springs is 6,915 feet. About three miles out of town the climb starts to ratchet up as you begin riding through some switchbacks. The roadway is smooth, but there is no bike lane. When you get to Echo Lake Campground, at the intersection of Hwy. 103 you are half way at 10,000 feet in elevation.
Idaho Springs, 27.5 miles to the northeast
Evergreen, 36 miles to the east
There is 42% less oxygen in the air on top of Mt. Evans than at sea level.
You are losing 3% for each thousand feet above the ocean, so when you start pedaling in Idaho Springs at 7,526 feet you are already operating at a 21% deficit.
Mt. Evans can be seen from 100 miles away along the eastern border of Colorado, and north 95 miles to Ft. Collins.
The original name of the mountain was Mt. Rosa or Mt. Rosalie. It was named for the woman Albert Bierstadt, a German-American painter, would ultimately marry. Mount Bierstadt, another fourteener in the Front Range is named for him. He is best known for his beautiful, sweeping landscapes of the American West. His “Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie” are amongst his most well-known (1866). He had climbed Mt. Evans in 1863 and painted it from Summit Lake.
Denver and Colorado Springs have been in competition for tourism for many years. When the City of Colorado Springs built a road to the top of Pikes Peak in 1915, Denver saw the taller Mt. Evans to the west and by 1927 Denver outdoes Colorado Springs. The first survey for the road from Echo Lake to the peak of Mount Evans was made in 1923. The layout was finished by January 1924 despite a flu outbreak in the camp, damaging windstorms, and practically insurmountable environmental hardships. Not to mention unusual problems that come with high-altitude construction: the effective of high altitude on steam shovel performance, difficulty of hauling coal and water, feeding and housing/boarding horses and wranglers needed daily for transporting workers and miscellaneous equipment to the high elevation work site. The last 600 feet were finally built by hand, being completed in 1930.
As you travel toward Mt. Evans, you will come across ruins of the Crest House. Constructed during 1940-41 by a German immigrant, Justus Roehling, wanted to impress his future wife with a “castle in the sky”. (See: Juniper Pass)