Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: June 2017
Overall Experience: I was spending a week in Denver and eager to get out of the city and into the Rockies! I had no desire to rent a car for the day so I decided the best way was to book a tour company for a day trip. I googled a few places and decided on “The Colorado Sightseer” Summer Ultimate Mountain Trip.
For $105, this tour provides door to door service, a knowledgeable tour guide (who cracked the best dad jokes) and a day long adventure into the mountains. You get picked up at 8:00am and dropped back off around 5:00 – 6:00pm depending on the traffic.
The entire group consisted of six people, with myself being the most eager hiker. You do not need to be physically fit to take this tour, you have the option to take a strenuous hike or do something at a more leisurely pace. I was very impressed with all of the nature we were able to see, but I would caution that because the tour packs in so much you don’t get a lot of time at each site. That being said, it was really only an issue at Mount Evans if you want to hike to the peak.
All in all, Colorado is incredibly gorgeous and provides many opportunities for people to enjoy that beauty. Here are a few shots of my day trip to Mount Evans:
1. Clear Creek Canyon
The first stop takes you to Clear Creek Canyon. You’ll spend about 15-20 minutes exploring the area and watching the brave climbers scale “Wall of the 90s”
2. Idaho Springs Visitor Center and Museum
As you make your way on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, you’ll pass through the tiny town of Idaho Springs. The tour makes a pit stop here so you can check out the gift shop and free museum.
Idaho Springs’ elevation is 7,524 ft and this is where you begin your travels on the highest paved road in North America to the summit of Mount Evans.
3. Echo Lake and Echo Lake Lodge
You can start to feel the elevation and cool air once you reach Echo Lake. The tour stops here for photos and then heads to Echo Lake Lodge for lunch (you have the option of walking around the lake too). The Lodge has an extensive gift shop, sit down restaurant, as well as a counter area for quick bites.
This place is famous for their pies! While I was eating a less than authentic gyro, a Colorado native sitting next to me was explaining how delicious the pies were and without even prompting, cut her peanut butter pie slice in half to share with me so I could experience it. Not only was this the kindest thing a complete stranger has done for me, it was hands down the best and sweetest pie I ever had the pleasure of eating. Thank you kind stranger!
4. Mount Evans
You will go up and around countless narrow switchbacks, passing panting bikers and hikers! This is where the tour bus-van pays off in spades. It can get crowded up here so it’s great to have the tour guide just drop you off to explore and not have to worry about finding a parking spot.
At over 14,000 ft, I was feeling out of breath as I hustled my way up to the peak of Mount Evans! It was an incredible feeling to be in the clouds looking out onto the Rockies.
The views aren’t the only things to see on Mount Evans, it’s also teaming with wildlife including pika, marmots, big horn sheep and mountain goats! I was very fond of the adorable mountain goats.
5. Summit Lake
Once your time is up at the peak, you will slowly make your way down to Summit Lake. This glacial lake lies in a “cirque” which is bowl at the head of a glacier and is named for the french word for “circus” due to its shape. The scenery here rivals the peak of Mount Evans as you have views of three glacial lakes!
And just like that, you take your final shots of the incredible scenery and you are out of the mountains and back on your way to civilization!
- Dress warm! It might be warm and sunny in downtown Denver but once you get to the higher elevations, you will be chilly!
- Bring water! Low humidity, dry air and increased respiratory rate are all factors that contribute to dehydration at high altitude.
- Book in advance! I reserved my spot a month out and there were still some day trips that were completely sold out.