Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Scenic Drives

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road Closes to Through Travel for Winter Season

Sunday, October 21 2012 20:51   Rocky Mountain
Winter-like conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below-freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet have caused rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to close the historic Trail Ridge Road for the season to through travel.

"We continue to get snowfall at high elevations combined with strong winds," park superintendent Vaughn Baker said Oct. 17, 2012. "The snow will continue to blow and drift at higher elevations, making snow clearing operations and driving conditions extremely hazardous."

trr_autumn_hidden_valleyThe decision was made Oct. 17, but Trail Ridge Road actually shut down Oct. 11 due to snow storms. It is one of the earliest closing dates for through travel for the scenic Trail Ridge Road.

Trail Ridge Road, one of the most impressive alpine scenic 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 gateway communities of Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west. The road is currently closed at Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Many Parks Curve on the east side.

"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," said Baker.

The average winter closure dates for Trail Ridge Road have been Oct. 23.

Although often times the road closes earlier and does not reopen, the previous 10 year's official closure dates are: Oct. 27, 2011, Oct.. 29, 2010, Oct. 21, 2009, Nov. 6, 2008, Oct. 22, 2007, Oct. 23, 2006, Nov. 4, 2005, Oct. 25, 2004, Nov. 6, 2003 and Nov. 1, 2002.

The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. For 2012, Trail Ridge Road opened early on May 14, due to a dry and mild winter and early spring.

Old Fall River Road officially closed for the season on Oct. 10, 2012. Old Fall River Road is an unpaved road that travels from Endovalley picnic area to above treeline at Fall River Pass, following the steep slope of Mount Chapin. Due to the road's narrow nature, the scenic 9.4-mile route leading to Trail Ridge Road is one way only.

Trail Ridge Road is now in "winter trail status" which means that bicycles and pets are not permitted beyond the closed gates. However, until signed otherwise, Old Fall River Road remains in "winter road status," which means that cyclists and leashed pets are still permitted beyond the closed gate as long as signing does not indicate otherwise.

This applies on Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center and no further. As always, pets are still prohibited on trails and outside of developed areas and road corridors. Signs at the closed gate on Old Fall River Road may be changed at any time, showing the road is closed to cyclists and pets based on weather and road conditions and/or heavy maintenance work being conducted on the road.

Trail Ridge Road is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2012. For current road conditions and other park information, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206. For more information, visit the park's Website at .


Related Articles