The Highest Road in the United States

This post is the second in a series about a girls’ trip I took for seven days driving from Denver, Colorado to Yellowstone National Park, to Grand Teton National Park.

If you’d like, head over and read the first post about Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail in Arapaho National Forest.

When I first got in touch with my friend who lives in Denver, we talked about how Tina and I hiked Grand Canyon, how much we loved it, and how we were just getting into hiking. After a bit of back and fourth, he decided.

“We should do a 14er! It’s been a long time since I’ve done one.”

…”I don’t know, her and I aren’t in the best of shape. I’ll give her a call and see what she wants to do.”

Three reasons for my hesitance:

  1. The Havasupai Falls hike is a difficult hike, and we had never hiked before. Both of our shoes were a half size too small, come to find out, and we didn’t exactly prepare fully, yet our packs were heavy. It did a number on us.
  2. I’m a runner. The guy said 14-er and I just assumed he meant 14 miles.
  3. I’m a Texan, residing in the flattest of cities: Houston. Someone says 14-er and I have no prior experience to assume that would mean elevation!

After some googling and going over it with Tina, I got all the gear I’d need for the 14er and was excited about going for it on Sunday, the second day we were there. What I hadn’t put into perspective was that she and I had to be awake at 3:30 a.m. the day prior. To and from the Indian Peaks Wilderness trail, my friend was fast asleep in the back of the car. After a late dinner, we decided that she should catch up on the sleep her workweek disallowed, and we’d find something else to do.

Now a 14er is going to be penciled in to the bucket list!

When we awoke, we went over to Mod Market for brunch. This place is so delicious (and it has vegan options!) that it’s enough to make me want to move to Colorado. After we were good, fed and rested, we went to the store for a few things for a picnic atop Mt. Evans. Spencer made caprese salad and we had some fresh bread.

Mt. Evans

The Mt. Evans scenic byway is the highest paved road in all of North America. The end of the drive will place you at the 14,264 foot summit.

A few things to remember:

  • This road climbs nearly 9,000 feet of elevation gain, with many switchbacks and few guardrails. For flatlanders like Tina and I, this can be, well, horrifying. The roads are narrow and without markings, and people who are driving in the opposite direction as you can, at times, be in your lane as they fear the edge of the road.
  • Bring layers! The temperature difference is up there is significantly colder than what you will feel outside just before hitting the road.
  • Altitude sickness is serious business. It can make you feel a bit loopy, so take that into consideration before you go chewing or puffing on what Colorado has also become known for.
Mt. Evans on an EPIC U.S. Road Trip-4
the view on the way up

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Technically, we “did” a fourteener–by driving to the top. Next time, I’ll bag the fourteener! 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Highest Road in the United States

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