(CBS4) – To travel the country’s highest road, you will now need a reservation — it’s the new normal for many of Colorado’s popular trails. And while it’s caused headaches for many visitors, opening day for Mount Evans got few complaints.

(credit: CBS)

“It was actually pretty easy. We drove up to the entrance and we didn’t realize we needed a reservation, so we just went to the parking lot, and he went on it and made a reservation,” said Jensen Keller, who was visiting with her family from Alabama.

Keller said she’s seen the reservation systems at hiking areas in other states and it’s helped with overcrowding.
“We were used to getting passes and reservations so not too bad,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

Mount Evans was well staffed with rangers Friday, who said things had been running smooth and those without reservations were largely understanding. Fortunately, many without a reservation were able to pull over, connect to the USFS Wi-Fi, and make one the same day. There were even open slots into the weekend.
“I think it’s great ’cause I think if there were too many people, I think it would be too crowded and I think it would take away from some of the beauty here. I think they’ve done a really good job of managing the people here,” said Callum Campbell from Georgia.
The Campbell family had no issues booking a slot Thursday when the system opened, and were pleasantly surprised with the short lines at the gate and the space at the top.
“We’ve traveled quite a bit, and this is definitely one of my favorite spots that I’ve ever traveled,” said Campbell.
The bonus? The Campbells said everyone was nice.
“It’s kind of got that southern hospitality, but all the way over here,” said Campbell.
“We’re stunned by how nice the people are here. They’ve all been fantastic,” said Malcolm, Callum’s father.
Those who decided not to make a reservation were hiking or biking from Echo Lake, a grueling 16 miles to the summit — that delivers unforgettable views.
If you have a shuttle, the bike down is a slightly easier way to go. CBS4’s Jamie Leary had no issue leaving photographer, John Mason, at the top to do just that. He made it down just 10 minutes behind her.
There are 640 spots available for vehicles each day, and as of Friday, still plenty of reservations available over the weekend.
You can secure your spot in the timed entry pass system that allows you onto Colorado Highway 5 and up the 14,264-foot mountain up to 30 days in advance through Recreation.gov.
Make sure you check the forecast before you go, storms are expected over the weekend, especially Sunday.
Make sure to visit the CBS4 Hiking Weather page to help you plan your adventure.

RELATED: Petition Filed To Change Name Of Mount Evans To Mount Blue Sky

 

Jamie Leary