State Highway 103

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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 from Echo Lake in the direction of Evergreen. The state highway ascends onto Warrior, Chief and Papoose Mountains to Squaw Mountain. Lowering from 10,000 feet in elevation, Colorado 103 transitions to County Road 103 just beyond Squaw Pass (el. 9,807 feet). Both Colorado 103 and 5 are incorporated into the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.

County Road 103 continues Squaw Pass Road east around Mount Judge, Snyder Mountain and Mount Pence to a unit of Denver Mountain Park. East into Jefferson County, Squaw Pass Road ends at Colorado 74 in north Evergreen, southwest of Hidden Valley. Overall SH 103 totals 22.488 miles in length.

Colorado 103 north
A diamond interchange joins SH 103 (13th Avenue) with I-70 in the city of Idaho Springs. Construction from April 2014 to February 2015 reconstructed both the north and south side ramps. Work was completed as part of the I-70 Mountain Peak Shoulder Lane Project.1 Photo taken 08/11/16.
Interstate 70 westbound ascends from Idaho Springs to Empire, Silver Plume and the Eisenhower Tunnel. Photo taken 08/11/16.
The final 0.58 miles of SH 103 lines 13th Street into Idaho Springs. The city is nestled along Clear Creek in a valley south of Pewabic and Seaton Mountains. Photo taken 08/11/16.
Business Loop I-70K follows old U.S. 6-40 along Colorado Boulevard west from the city center for 12 blocks back to I-70, and east across Clear Creek to an array of traveler services by I-70 at Exit 241. Photo taken 08/11/16.
Colorado 103 south
Colorado 103 (13th Avenue) exits the Idaho Springs street grid three blocks south of Business Loop I-70 (Colorado Boulevard) to cross over Interstate 70. Photo taken 08/11/16.
The diamond interchange joining SH 103 and I-70 was reconstructed in 2015. Photo taken 08/11/16.
The eastbound on-ramp to I-70 leads motorists from SH 103 and Idaho Springs to Denver. SH 103 otherwise begins to travel south toward Mount Evans and Squaw Pass. Photo taken 08/11/16.
Just beyond I-70, this sign advises motorists of the status of the highway to Mount Evans (Colorado 5). Colorado 103 and Colorado 5 from Idaho Springs to Mount Evans are both designated as a Colorado Scenic Byway. During winter months, the Colorado 5 section of the byway is closed. The summit of Mount Evans is 14,264 feet above sea level, so snow can fall at any time of the year, and the weather can be significantly cooler than either Idaho Springs or Denver. The road closes around Labor Day and reopens each Memorial Day. Fees are charged for the Mount Evens summit-viewing platform and the Mount Goliathe interpretive area, or for Summit Lake.2 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. The highway gains elevation as it travels south from Idaho Springs (el. 7,524 feet). 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.
Continuing the ascent along Colorado 103 southbound toward Mount Evans. 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 summit that is lower than Mount Evans. 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. 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. 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 Road 105 east
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. County Road 66 passes through a few fields and meadows before meeting Colorado 74. Photo taken 08/29/04.
The road quality improves in Jefferson County as Squaw Pass Road approaches Colorado 74. Colorado 74 leads north to Interstate 70 and south to Evergreen and Evergreen Lake. Photo taken 08/29/04.

Sources:

  1. "CO 103 Bridge Reconstruction." Colorado Department of Transportation, project web page. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  2. "Fee climbs for Mount Evans access as Denver adds $5 Summit Lake charge." The Denver Post (CO), May 12, 2016.


Photo Credits:

08/29/04, 08/11/16 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 70
Business Loop I-70 - Idaho Springs
State Highway 74

Page Updated 04-10-2017.