Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Trail Ridge Road

Road Status:  Officially Closed for the winter on Oct. 22. 

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:

  • 48 miles long, 11 miles above treeline
  • Highest elevation, 12,183 feet
  • Normally windy and 20 to 30 degrees colder than Estes Park or Grand Lake
  • See Wyoming to the north, the Great Plains on the east, the Rockies on the south and west
  • See elk, pikas, marmots, ptarmigans and bighorn sheep
  • 200 species of tiny alpine plants with a 40 day growing season
  • Crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass, elevation 10,120 feet
  • Also known as US 34

Trail Ridge Road

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.

Road Biking Trail Ridge Road

Castle Mountain

Estes Park Condos

Wildwood Inn

Streamside

Swiftcurrent