Colorado Trip – Mt. Evans Part I

This weekend we ride to colorful Colorado! This trip was originally organized between my friend, Tyson from Phoenix, AZ and myself. The goal was to drive up the highest paved road in North America — Mt. Evans. That means, taking my Accord to the extreme and see what it can do with outrageously high elevations in the Rocky Mountains. Let’s begin!

Day 1 my roommate, Jouhl, and I set out Friday morning for Denver Colorado. Total distance/time: 655 miles/10 hrs.

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We hit I-25 north out of Las Cruces which would take us directly to Denver. However, we opted to take a slight variation in our route out of Santa Fe,  NM.

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Once we arrived in Santa Fe, we took Hwy 285 north which ran into Colorado. Along this highway, we witnessed many neat landscapes such as the Rio Grande Gorge. We didn’t get a chance to drive across the Gorge Bridge, which is the 7th highest bridge in North America. It was closed due to foul weather conditions. Oh well, gives me a reason to come back to this area. (Photo from Wikipedia)

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Here’s the gorge from the highway. It looks much more majestic in person.

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This is the time of year us desert folk love…the monsoon season! For several weeks now, my hometown has been getting rain on a consistant weekly basis. We were greeted with several small showers in northern New Mexico. However, mother nature decided to let us really have it just north of Taos, NM. Wipers couldn’t hardly wipe fast enough.

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The showers past, and then we arrived at the Colorado boarder.

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As we drove further into Colorado, the scenery quickly changed from the flat grassy planes to majestic mountain-scapes covered in pine trees.

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We snapped this photo as a chuckle: this certainly is “greenland” this time of year.

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After what seemed like several hours of interstate driving, we arrived in Denver.

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That night we met up with Tyson who drove a whopping 11+ hours from Phoenix, AZ. Tyson drove his 2013 Acura ILX 6-speed which has just turned over 46,000 miles. It’s just over a year old. Even though we all were tired from a full day of driving, we managed to dig up the strength to go get a bite to eat at a nearby Five Guys fast food restaurant. We then took time to reflect on each others travels.

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On Day 2 ,we prepared for our the main focus of this trip: Mt. Evans. This mountain which sits in the Front Range region of the western rocky mountains is just under an hour west of Denver, and it is regarded as the highest paved road in North America. At 14,260 ft, it surpasses Pikes Peak by only around 90 ft. The road ascending up the mountain is narrow with lots of switchbacks with virtually no shoulders and no guardrails. Before setting off on this excursion, we checked out the reviews on TripAdvisor® and were surprised at what we saw. Many described the drive as, “AMAZING,” “Breathtaking” and, “Exhilarating Experience!” However, there were quite a few that were with warnings. Some said, “Make sure your life-insurance premiums are paid up,” and “Next time, I’m hiking.” Check out this one:

““Are you man enough? Kind of an risky thing to do.”

Man oh man, I am surprised people do
n’t die daily on this thing. It really is kinda irresponsible that they let people up on the mountain without really explaining to them what they are getting into.

I will say this, if you get lightheaded and faint behind the wheel, chances are you are going to tumble to your death. If you get sidetracked looking back breaking up your kids fight in the back seat, you most likely all plunge to your death.
There are no guard rails and very little “shoulder” on the road. You will have to move over for bikes and uncoming traffic as well as mountain animals. Swerved to miss those mountain sheep? RIP my friend. I saw zero park rangers or law enforcement/medical professionals. Also, your phone won’t work. If something bad happens, you won’t get help anytime soon.

Here are my recommendations: Make sure your car is in great working order. Make sure the driver is sober, rested, vigilant, and in acceptable physical health. Keep dis
ruptions out of the car. If anyone has any fear of heights or anxiety condition, leave them at the bottom. Bring a great camera and make sure your life insurance premiums are paid up. It is beautiful and you will have memories to last a lifetime, but make sure you know what you are getting into. I recommend watching one of the many YouTube videos that show the road.

Despite the somewhat frightening reviews, we soldiered on and headed for the mountain anyway. Hey, you only live once! Tyson’s friend, Jeremy joined us in his work-issued Ford Fusion. Later on, he parked it and hopped in with Tyson for the drive.

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Unfortunately when we were nearly there, a road closure sign warned us of a bicycle event which was currently taking place. The road to the summit was closed until later in the afternoon. No biggie, we didn’t come all this way to let a few bikes ruin the fun! We all decided to part ways for a few hours and reconvene when the road reopened.

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When Jouhl and I were finished killing a few hours in Denver, we came to the designated meeting point a few mins early. Just enough time to grab some snacks and water at a nearby gas station. I thought the lighting was cool here as the Accord actually looked lowered.

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In no time, Tyson and Jeremy came and our little convoy headed up Hwy 74 to the “scary” Mt. Evans. Tyson took the lead the whole way.

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Will we make it there without incident? Are the rumors true of how dangerous the road is? Stay tuned to find out!

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2 thoughts on “Colorado Trip – Mt. Evans Part I

  1. tysonhugie says:

    Jason, you’re such a tease! Cliffhanger! Haha, nicely done. Enjoyed your version of the story, and I look forward with great anticipation to how the rest of the trip played out in your words. It was the drive of a lifetime – glad we were able to put the trip together.

    • pawela says:

      Tyson, yes that trip was amazing! Glad you enjoyed the first post. I’m hungry for more road trips. We should coordinate soon on planning out another drive in a few months. I’m going to get the part II up here soon!

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