Colorado 103 connects Interstate 70 with the Mount Evans Highway, Colorado 5. Open year-round, Colorado 103 originates in Idaho Springs, passes through the scenic Arapaho National Forest, then turns east in the direction of Evergreen. However, Colorado 103 downgrades to Jefferson County Route 66 after ascending Squaw Pass, crossing the Clear Creek-Jefferson County Line, and passing through a unit of Denver Mountain Park. Squaw Pass Road (Jefferson County Route 66) ends at Colorado 74 in north Evergreen, southwest of Hidden Valley.
Colorado 103 - North
The northern terminus of Colorado 103 is here at the intersection with Business Loop I-70 in downtown Idaho Springs. Idaho Springs is home to 1,889 people as of the 2000 Census. It is not much bigger than Georgetown, but it is classified as a city in the census and gets the only official business loop between Mesa County and Golden. The city is perhaps best known for its mineral baths, hence the name Idaho Springs. One of the more interesting side trips from Idaho Springs is the "Oh My God" Road, which connects Idaho Springs with Central City and Blackhawk (Junction Colorado 119 in Gilpin County) via Clear Creek County Route 279 and Gilpin County Route 279. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Colorado 103 - South/East
Just after the business loop (Colorado Boulevard) intersection in downtown Idaho Springs, Colorado 103 begins to travel south toward Mount Evans and Squaw Pass. The two-lane highway is a designated scenic route. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Here, Colorado 103 south meets the onramp to Interstate 70 east. As an alternative to Evergreen, follow Colorado 103 south to Clear Creek County Route 103 east into Jefferson County. The highway ends at Colorado 74 just north of Evergreen. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Just south of the Interstate 70 interchange, this sign advises the status of the highway to Mount Evans (Colorado 5). Colorado 103 and Colorado 5 from Idaho Springs to Mount Evans form the Colorado Scenic Byway. During winter months, the Colorado 5 section of the byway is closed. The summit of Mount Evans is 14,265 feet above sea level, so snow can occur at any time in any season, and the weather can be significantly cooler than either Idaho Springs or Denver. The road closes around Labor Day and reopens each Memorial Day. There is a $10 toll (as of 2005) to use the road, starting at the Echo Lake Entrance Station. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Passing through aspens, the color of the leaves had already begun to change from summer green to autumn yellow. The aspens appeared to be the first trees to change in anticipation of fall. Notice how the highway gains in elevation as it travels south. Photo taken 08/29/04.
The summit of Mount Evans comes into view for the first time along southbound Colorado 103. The highest elevations surrounding the summit is an alpine tundra, where no trees grow. During the winter, this summit is often snow capped. A distinctive tree line is evident, even in the waning summer months. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Colorado 103 continues to gain elevation as it travels south toward Mount Evans. While the mountain peak is no longer in view, the highway is still meandering in that general direction. There are far more evergreen (conifer) trees than leafy (deciduous) trees as the highway continues to climb. Photo taken 08/29/04.
At another vista, the highway provides a view of another mountain peak that is lower than Mount Evans but is still tall in its own right. Photo taken 08/29/04.
A rock cut here allowed the highway to pass through with minimal obstruction. Built as part of a planned Peak to Peak Highway, much of Colorado 103 dates back to early construction around 1915. The original intent was for the Peak to Peak Highway to connect with other peaks that are over 14,000 feet high, but the road to Mount Evans is the most accessible. For more, visit Clear Creek County's Visitors Site. Photo taken 08/29/04.
A southbound Colorado 103 shield is posted along the highway at a bend in the road. Photo taken 08/29/04.
More conifers dominate the landscape as Colorado 103 nears the turnoff for Colorado 5, which takes travelers to the summit of Mount Evans. The intersection with Colorado 5 is not photographed, but it should be noted that the turnoff occurs rather rapidly. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Now traveling east, Colorado 103 offers outstanding views to the north. The state highway continues through Squaw Pass, then downgrades to a county-maintained road. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Aspens and conifers bring their own hues of green to the tree-filled mountain slope. Photo taken 08/29/04.
County Route 66 - East
Shortly thereafter, Colorado 103 reaches Squaw Pass and downgrades into a county road, with noticeably lower standards. There are no white lines on either side, shoulders are limited, and the sight distances are compromised. This section warrants a lower speed than the state maintained section. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Now descending, the county road leaves Clear Creek County and enters Jefferson County. The highway passes through a few fields and meadows before reaching Colorado 74. Photo taken 08/29/04.
The road quality improves in Jefferson County as it approaches Colorado 74. Turn left to return to Interstate 70 and right to Evergreen and Evergreen Lake. Photo taken 08/29/04.