CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Mount Evans Highway, also known as Colorado Highway 5, is now open to the public for the 2021 season, with reservations required for vehicles.
The USDA Forest Service is requiring motorists to make reservations if they plan to drive on the highway, while hikers and cyclists are not required to make a reservation at this time.
Officials with the U.S. Forest Service estimated there were roughly 70 people in line to get in for the first 8 a.m. time slot on opening day.
“We opened those gates, and we moved all those people through the front gate in 20 minutes. Normally, that would have taken an hour and a half,” said Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist with Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
Armstrong said eliminating transactions at the gate helped move people through faster. But some frequent visitors fear the reservation system takes away the ability to make a spontaneous trip.
“We all have busy lives, and sometimes on a Thursday afternoon I just get tired of working and say, ‘I’m going to go up to Mount Evans.’ I’ll catch the afternoon light, and if I’m lucky, there will be some mountain goats,” said Howard Paul, a regular at Mount Evans.
Paul was among those lined up on opening day, hoping to capture some photographs of the mountain goats. He typically arrives before sunrise and in the future, he won’t necessarily have to make a reservation.
Visitors can arrive early without a reservation, just as long as they’re out before the first time slot opens up at 8:00 a.m. People can also visit late in the day without a reservation, after 6:30 p.m.
“The online reservation system will help alleviate significant wear and tear on the Mount Evans road and surrounding ecosystem. Please be ready for this necessary change from the USDA Forest Service,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.
CDOT crews worked throughout the month of May, plowing over 15 miles of snow from the gates at Echo Lodge Lake to the Mount Evans summit.
CDOT suggests travelers “know before you go” by checking weather and road conditions before visiting the Mount Evans Highway.
CDOT Mount Evans Resources: