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Friends of Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wilderness

Mount Evans

Wilderness

autumn in coloradoThe Mount Evans Wilderness is located approximately 30 miles west of Denver. One of its more unique features is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway (Colorado 5) which forms a non-wilderness corridor to the top of Mount Evans in the center of the Wilderness. The road, two fourteen thousand foot peaks (Mt. Evans at 14,264 feet and Mt. Bierstadt at 14,060 feet), and close proximity to metropolitan Denver has resulted in an area with relatively heavy use most of the year.

Despite the likelihood of running into people, the area offers several unique features worthy of a visit. The Wilderness contains small regions of arctic tundra, which are rare south of the Arctic Circle. Unlike typical Colorado alpine tundra, which is dry and brittle once the snow recedes, arctic tundra holds numerous small pools of water. Ancient 2,000 year old Bristlecone pines, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are common sights. The Wilderness is characterized by classic glacial landforms, with steep headwalls forming cirques and classic U-shaped valleys holding strings of alpine lakes. Moraines of glacial debris mark the edges and ends of where the ancient glaciers lay. Approximately 120 miles of trails provide access to the Wilderness. For more on the Mount Evans Wilderness, visit Wilderness.net.

History of Mount Evans

Mount Evans itself was named for John Evans, for Colorado's second territorial governor. Neighboring Mount Bierstadt was named for Albert Bierstadt, a well-known painter of landscapes of the American west in the latter half of the 1800s. He originally named Mount Evans for his wife, Rosalie, but it was later renamed Mount Evans in 1870 and a nearby 13,575' summit was named Mount Rosalie.

Special protection for the Mount Evans area began January 11, 1956, with the designation of the approximately 5,880-acre Abyss Lake Scenic Area under the precursor of the Wilderness Act, the "U-Regulations" of 1939. This was followed in 1980 by the creation of the Mount Evans Wilderness under the Colorado Wilderness Act.

Management

The 74,400-acre Mount Evans Wilderness lies on the South Platte Ranger District of the Pike National Forest (approximately 34,130 acres) and the Clear Creek Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest (approximately 40,270 acres). In 1994, an agreement was made between the two districts to manage the Wilderness as a single unit, with the South Platte District as the lead district, coordinating with the Clear Creek District in all management decisions.

Weather

Mountain weather, particularly at high altitudes, can go from one extreme to another in a short amount of time. Carry adequate clothing for any type of weather. Snow is not uncommon in the middle of summer and can blow in quickly. Summer days typically begin clear and sunny, but warm air rising from sun-warmed slopes generates increasing clouds and afternoon thunderstorms, often accompanied by intense lightening. At other times, thick fog or a sudden snow may envelop the high country, obscuring all landmarks. If traveling off trail, carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. A GPS unit is also a valuable navigation tool, but dead batteries will render it useless.

Available Maps

The following maps cover the Mount Evans Wilderness and can be purchased at many area stores:

National Forest Maps:

  • Arapaho National Forest
  • Pike National Forest

National Geographic/Trails Illustrated:

  • #104 Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Loveland Pass

USGS 7.5 Minute Quadrangles:

  • Georgetown
  • Harris Park
  • Idaho Springs
  • Meridian Hill
  • Mount Evans
  • Mount Logan
  • Shawnee

Wilderness Regulations

In the Mt Evans Wilderness, please adhere to these regulations. The following are prohibited:

  1. Possessing or using a motor vehicle or motorized equipment.
  2. Possessing or using a hang glider or bicycle.
  3. Landing of aircraft, or dropping or picking up of any supplies, materials or persons by aircraft is prohibited.
  4. Having groups of more than 15 persons and/or 10 saddle, pack, or draft animals.
  5. Possessing dogs, unless under physical restraint of a leash.
  6. Camping within 100 feet of trails, lakes, or streams.
  7. Building or using a campfire within 100 feet of trails, lakes, or streams.
  8. Hitching, hobbling, or tethering saddle, pack, or draft animals within 100 feet of trails, lakes, or streams.
  9. Possessing, storing, or transporting unprocessed feed for horses or other stock.
  10. Possessing or using a cart, wagon, or other vehicle is prohibited. Wheelchairs suitable for indoor use are exempted.
  11. Short-cutting switchbacks on trails.

In addition, camping and campfires are prohibited within one half mile of the centerline of the Mount Evans road, which includes Lincoln Lake.