The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel is a historic landmark in the United States, not just because it was one of the most expensive public works projects undertaken by the U.S. government up to that time, but also for its sheer size and engineering prowess. The tunnel stretches 2 miles from portal to portal through The Continental Divide at an average elevation of 11,112 feet – making it the highest vehicular tunnel in America when it opened for business back in 1970s!
Where did the name come from?
The tunnel is named for Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower (1890 – 1969), who was born in Denison, Texas but moved with his family to Abilene, Kansas. The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel was begun in December 1968 and completed on October 15th, 1973 at a cost of $197 million dollars. The tunnel’s western entrance is 27 miles east of the Rocky Mountain National Park exit off I-70 while its eastern portal is just 18 miles west of that same park exit.
The project was originally called The Eisenhower Memorial Bore and later renamed The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel because President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in Denison, Texas but moved with his family to Abilene Kansas and had a love of The Rockies which he called “America’s Playground”.
How high does it really go?
The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel is the highest vehicular tunnel in the U.S. and at one time was also the highest in the world. It has a height clearance of 13 feet, 10 inches (4 meters) with an average elevation of 11,112 ft above sea level which makes it higher than any other highway tunnel on American soil.
At its lowest point, it’s 11,138 feet high – about 200 feet lower than what you’ll find atop Pikes Peak! So if you’re looking for a spectacular drive through Colorado this summer or fall season that will definitely wow your passengers as well as yourself then head to I-70 and take advantage of this awesome feat of engineering!