Road Status: CLOSED for the winter at Many Parks Curve on the east side and Colorado Trailhead on the west side. Weather permitting, it will reopen on May 22, 2015 for the summer.
Trail Ridge Road spans the Park and connects Estes Park on the east side to the town of Grand Lake on the western slope. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet. It follows a path that the Ute and other Native American peoples used for thousands of years.
Trail Ridge Road facts:
It is open to vehicle traffic from Memorial Day weekend in May through Columbus Day in October. Temporary closings may occur in early June or late fall because of snow. Occasionally it opens earlier in May. It's usually October after Columbus Day (but sometimes November) before the Park Service gives up fighting the snow and turns the road back to Mother Nature for the winter when it is closed between Many Parks Curve and the Colorado River Trailhead. Call (970) 586-1222 anytime for the latest Park recording of the status of the road.
The many turnouts along the way provide scenic overlooks and tremendous photographic opportunities, day or night. The night time view from Rainbow Curve is spectacular. City lights from Fort Collins to Denver are visible.
Trail Ridge Road travels through forests, above tree line, over the alpine tundra, reaches the high point, and crosses the Continental Divide before winding its way down to the town of Grand Lake. There are numerous trails, short hikes and scenic pull-off spots. The entire trip crosses about 50 miles of spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery and can take anywhere from 2 hours of non-stop driving to an all day trip with scenic and meal stops.
Just west of the high point is Fall River Pass, elevation 11,796 feet, and the Alpine Visitor Center. Many elk, deer and bighorn sheep move to the high country in the summer and can sometimes be seen from the deck of the Visitor Center. Rest rooms, a restaurant and a gift shop are also located in this area.
A note concerning the alpine tundra - This is an extremely fragile ecosystem. Please stay on the marked trails. Crushed growth takes many decades to heal.