Trail Ridge Road, CO, Was All Set to Open This Weekend | Mother Nature Had Another Plan

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Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators plow sections along Trail Ridge Road encountering 2 to 5-foot drifts in upper elevations. Credit: NPS

Plowing crews thought their work was done—Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, was all set to open Memorial Day weekend. But Mother Nature had another plan…

Heavy snow last week provided some beautiful wet spring snow for park snowplow operators to contend with at high elevations along Trail Ridge Road. Park snowplow operators are now plowing 2 to 5-foot drifts from Rock Cut to the Alpine Visitor Center located at 11,796 feet.

It’s now unknown when Trail Ridge Road will open for the summer. Last year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 28th and closed for the season on October 25th.

Alpine Visitor Center, located at 11,796 feet along Trail Ridge Road, is the highest visitor center in the National Park Service. Credit: NPS

Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all-season road, with 11 miles above 11,500 feet, few guard rails, and no shoulders.  Winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds, and below-freezing temperatures occur above 10,000 feet.

According to Wikipedia, Trail Ridge Road is a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 that traverses Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park, Colorado, in the east to Grand Lake, Colorado, in the west. The road is also known as Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway.

The road is closed during the winter and often remains closed until late spring or early summer, depending on the snowpack. The road is the highest paved through road in Colorado. It is also the highest paved road in Colorado that crosses the continental divide (Cottonwood Pass at 12,126 feet is the second-highest, and Colorado State Highway 82 at 12,095 feet going through Independence Pass third-highest).

trail ridge road, colorado, Rocky Mountain national park

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