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For the first time since 2019, you can drive to the summit of Mount Evans — if you have a reservation

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway was closed in 2020 but reopens in 2021. (Denver Post file)
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway was closed in 2020 but reopens in 2021. (Denver Post file)
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After remaining closed to motorists for all of 2020 due the pandemic, drivers can once again visit the summit of Mount Evans. But don’t forget to make a reservation.

The popular Mount Evans Scenic Byway reopened for the summer on Friday, and a new reservation system was up and running on Recreation.gov — with spots for this weekend available but going quickly. Earlier this week, the debut of reservations was marred by glitches.

RELATED: Reservations are now required to drive up Mount Evans, but the new system already crashed

The highway was closed to vehicles all last year during the pandemic, making it a popular, challenging trek for cyclists throughout the summer. It’s back to normal this year, but the timed-entry system implemented by the U.S. Forest Service for the road beyond Echo Lake is designed to reduce crowding. It’s similar to one now used at Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The online reservation system will help alleviate significant wear and tear on the Mount Evans road and surrounding ecosystem,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, in a news release.

People traveling by bike or on foot won’t need reservations.

RELATED: Visitors get turned away at Rocky Mountain National Park, unaware of the reservations system

The road to the top of the prominent Front Range fourteener is the highest paved road in North America, gaining more than 7,000 feet over 28 miles. Echo Lake is near the midpoint, with the final 14 miles closed each fall through late spring.

Entry fees are similar to the past at that point — up to $15 per private vehicle, depending on the type of entry — but online reservations will add a $2 fee. Regular entry fees are waived for holders of annual or lifetime National Parks passes, but they still need to make a reservation and pay the $2 fee.

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