Recently, Regency Centers Denver office took a vertical trip. The destination? The top of Mt. Evans, one of Colorado’s “14’ers” — mountains that are 14,000+ feet tall — with some memorable stops along the front range on the way up. The chartered trip also included lunch at Echo Lake with plenty of wildlife sightings including mountain goats, big horn sheep and elk. It was a 90-degree day at the office but when the team reached the summit it was in the 40s with snowflakes swirling about!
RC: It can be hard to get out of the office, especially as a group. How did you all decide on this team building activity and location?
CM: We do a summer outing every year, as we feel it is important to have that time together outside of the regular day to day office duties. We are so lucky to work for a company that encourages this! As the Office Coordinator, I usually reach out to the group in the spring to try and get some ideas about what people might want to do for a summer outing activity. Once we have 2-3 ideas, we put it to a vote. I found a tour group online here in the Denver area, Aspire Tours, that does all sorts of outings – including the Mt. Evans tour. Mt. Evans road is the highest paved road in North America, and a drive up to the summit takes you through the Mt. Evans Recreation Area where you can see bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, birds and alpine flowers. We even saw a herd of elk on the tundra. We saw it all! You can overlook spectacular views of distant mountain peaks, alpine lakes and glacier valleys. This particular tour won the vote.
Carrie Myers, Kathie Paradisa, Tricia Freeman, Ran Meng
RC: What were some of the team’s favorite sights along the way? What was your route to the top?
CM: Our tour began with a foothills stop at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. There we were able to check out the beautiful scenery and Colorado Music Hall of Fame located in the Trading Post there. There was an art exhibit going on that day, so in addition to the music memorabilia we got to view the artist’s gallery. Then we headed up the mountain, only stopping for lunch along the way. Everyone got a big kick out of all the wildlife we were able to see. Even our tour bus driver said we saw more animals on our tour than any she had led in recent weeks. We really enjoyed seeing the mother and baby sheep and goats. We drove past the Mt. Goliath Natural Area with Bristlecone Pines that are so cool to look at and are 900-2,000 years old, and then drove past Summit Lake which offered views of a landscape carved by ancient glaciers over thousands of years. Up at the summit, there are the remains of the Mt. Evans Crest House, which was a restaurant and hotel that was built in 1941 and destroyed by a propane canister fire in 1979. Visitors are welcome to explore the remains and on this particular day there were a number of mountain goats doing the same. It was fun and interesting to see them hopping around the stone structure and then heading out onto the mountain cliffs.
RC: Were there climate changes along the way?
CM: Yes, there were extreme climate changes along the way! It was a very warm July day in the Denver area, with expected highs in the 90s. One must always be prepared for quickly changing conditions when traveling up a mountain more than 14,000 feet tall, and the temperature dropped drastically. I believe our tour guide told us the average temperature at the summit in July are in the 40s. We experienced swirling snowflakes and wind. Most of us did some exploring at the top, and luckily remembered to bring sweatshirts with us, but we were happy to have a heated tour bus to hop into afterwards!
RC: We hear you can see Mt. Evans from your office's window — is this true?
CM: Yes, we can see it in the distance, so it was cool to be able to drive to the top of it. Some of us had done it before and others of us hadn’t, but it was fun for everyone. Some of us have hiked it or other mountains in the area, but it’s always interesting to get views of other mountains from a surrounding summit. The history of the road is interesting — famous western landscape painter Albert Bierstadt became the first known person to summit the mountain in 1863 and originally named it after his wife, Rosalie. There is a 14’er that you can see from the Mt. Evans summit named for him, Mt. Bierstadt. Construction began on the road in July 22, 1923 and it was complete by 1930. It opened to the public on June of 1931 and was the highest road in the world at that time. It ascends to 14,130 feet above sea level, making it 20 feet higher than the Pikes Peak Highway.
Tom Metzgar, Senior Project Manager