Mount Evans, with an elevation of 14,264 feet, is the fourteenth highest peak in the state of Colorado. This Fourteener located in the Chicago Peaks Range is the closest Fourteener to Denver, and is one of only two Colorado Fourteeners which are accessible by car, the other being Pikes Peak.
Mount Evans was originally known as Mount Rosa or Mount Rosalie, named after the wife of Fitz Hugh Ludlow (Rosa Ludlow would later divorce poor Fitz and almost immediately become the wife of Albert Bierstadt, who would have his own Fourteener named after him and would immortalize his wife's namesake in his painting Storm in the Rocky Mountains - it seems that the cuckolded Ludlow lost out in both love and history). Bierstadt is said to have been the first climber to ascend Mount Rosa in 1863 (along with his own mountain the same year), but other sources point to a Judge Lunt and a friend in 1872. In an ironic twist of history (and perhaps to avoid having two neighboring peaks named after two reputed adulterers), the Colorado legislature in 1895 officially renamed Mount Rosa Mount Evans in honor of John Evans, governor of the Colorado territory during the period of Bierstadt's reputed first ascent of the mountain.
During a period of competition for tourism between Denver with its Mount Evans and Colorado Springs with its Pikes Peak, Mayor Robert Speer of Denver obtained funding for construction of a road to the summit of Mount Evans, and, after a full ten years of construction, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America, opened in 1927. The Byway (and the peak) can be reached by taking I-70 west from Denver to Idaho Springs, then turning south to take Colorado 103 past Echo Lake before taking a right onto Colorado 5 (the Mount Evans Highway).
A trail leads from the parking lot to the peak (which is only 134 feet above), and several other trails lead out into the
Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Also near the summit are the University of Denver's Meyer-Womble Observatory (which boasts the world's second
highest telescope) and the ruins of the Crest House, a former restaurant and gift shop which burned down in 1979.
This page last updated 8/15/06