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While the highest paved road in the US is open from May to September, the second-highest road remains open year-round. Although you could enjoy these high roads in one day, driving them isn’t for the faint of heart. Let’s explore the two highest roads in the US, their history, and what it takes to get to the top. 

Rocky Mountain high roads

Snow Brains published a list of the nine highest roads in the United States. Eight of them, including the two highest, are located in Colorado. The highest paved road in the US climbs to 14,160 feet above sea level. The second-highest road is only 45 feet lower, at 14,115 feet. 

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes the crown

The snowy peaks surrounding Mt. Evans are shown with a road mid-ground
Snowy peaks surround the road to Mt. Evans in Colorado | Betty4240 via iStock

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in the United States, reaches 14,160 feet above sea level. However, the US Board of Geographic Names recently approved changing Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky. The Mount Blue Sky Welcome Station is the area’s Scenic Byway gateway. To drive to the top, you’ll need a “Timed Entry Permit” and an entry ticket, best reserved at Timed Entry Permits allow entrance to the road during a two-hour window of your choosing. Once you’re on the road, your entry ticket will let you stay the entire day. 

Timed Entry Permits cost $2, but entry ticket prices vary. For example, a personal vehicle, including passengers, costs $10.00. Motorcycles pay $3.00 for a single rider aged 16 and over or $6.00 for two. 

Lower sections remain open year-round, but most years, the highest parts only allow traffic between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The scenic 14-mile drive passes by Mount Goliath Nature Center, Summit Lake Park, and the Summit Interpretive Area. Atop the 14,264-foot mountain, you’ll find views of Denver, the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Pike’s Peak.

Pikes Peak is a legendary road for a few reasons

Pikes Peak, affectionately known as America’s Mountain, is home to the second-highest paved road in the US. It’s also the site of the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb, a time-trial car race with dozens of entrants. The racers climb the 14,115 summit by speeding around 156 turns along the road’s 12.4 miles. 

The road to the summit of Pikes Peak remains open year-round, weather permitting. However, you’ll need a Timed Entry Permit to drive to the top between May 26 and September 30. You’ll also need an admission ticket, available online from Pikes Peak Colorado

Pikes Peak Timed Entry Permits also cost $2.00 and provide a two-hour entrance window. Ticket price options include:

  • $15.00 Adult One Day Admission for those 16 years and older
  • $5.00 Child One Day Admission for ages 6-15
  • $50.00 Carload One Day Admission for up to five passengers. 

There’s no denying the world-class views and sense of adventure that come with driving to the top of a mountain. However, either of these drives can cause severe anxiety in those with a fear of heights. While passengers without fear will gasp at the panoramic vistas, those stricken with fear will gasp with each breath.