At 12,840 feet (3,914 m), Summit Lake Park anchors the high-altitude end of the Mountain Parks system. The route to the top of Mt. Evans, one of America’s highest auto roads, is (usually) accessible from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and provides a taste of Colorado’s high peaks to thousands of Denver visitors annually. The 160-acre Summit Lake Park is surrounded by National Forest lands and the Mt. Evans Wilderness. Fees charged by the City of Denver help maintain services and facilities at Summit Lake Park.
The short growing season makes life a challenge for the many slow-growing tundra wildflowers; their entire life cycles must be completed in a few short weeks. (Visitors who stay on trails will avoid adding to that difficulty.) Look for “spring” in early July at this elevation, and fall following quickly by mid-August. By September, the road to Mt. Evans summit is closed, but access to Summit Lake is maintained until major snowstorms prohibit travel.
Summit Lake is a busy destination for tourists and visitors on summer weekends and holidays. An accessible trail provides a short hike to the Chicago Lakes Overlook with spectacular mountain views. The Summit Lake parking area also provides access to climb Mt. Evans or fish in a high alpine lake.
Summit Lake provides unique opportunities to observe wildlife both Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats.
Due to fragile nature of the tundra and surrounding plant communities, visitor use is allowed by trails only. Cross country travel on the tundra is prohibited. Visitors are asked not to feed or follow wildlife onto the tundra.