Trail Ridge Road: Rocky Mountain National Park Road Closes for Winter
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park officially closed for the season according to the National Park Service. However, popular destinations including Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park and the section of Trail Ridge Road along the Kawuneeche Valley are still open. These are all great areas for hiking and wildlife watching.
Trail Ridge Road, one of the most impressive alpine highways in the United States, is the highest continuous paved road in America and reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet. The road connects the park’s communities of Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west. Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all season road with 11 miles above 11,500 feet and few guard rails and no shoulder. There are winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet. The road is currently closed at Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Many Parks Curve on the east side.
According to acting park superintendent Ben Bobowski, “At high elevations we continue to receive snow, high winds and freezing temperatures. The snow continues to blow and drift on Trail Ridge Road, making snow clearing operations and driving conditions extremely hazardous. During the winter season, weather permitting, we will keep Trail Ridge Road open to Many Parks Curve on the east side of the park and to the Colorado River Trailhead on the west side of the park.”
The average winter closure dates for Trail Ridge Road have been October 23. Although often times the road closes earlier and does not reopen, the previous ten year’s official closure dates are: November 4, 2014, October 22, 2013, October 17, 2012, October 27, 2011, October 29, 2010, October 21, 2009, November 6, 2008, October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006, November 4, 2005 and October 25, 2004.The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting.This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 29.
Old Fall River Road closed for the season on October 23. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets until November 30, re-opening on April 1, except during road maintenance operations and emergency closures as posted. Cyclists and pet owners may utilize the road at their own risk. After November 30, both of these roads will revert to “winter trail status” which means that bicycles and leashed pets are not permitted beyond the closed gates.