Monday, October 14, 2013

What's Open in Rocky Mountain National Park?

After being forced to close for 11 days due to the on-going government shutdown, Rocky Mountain National Park officially reopened this past Saturday under an agreement with federal officials and the State of Colorado.

Under the terms announced on Friday, Governor John Hickenlooper will provide $362,700 in state cash to bring furloughed national park employees back to work for 10 days. The governor also promised to keep the park open for the duration of the shutdown, and estimated that it would cost $40,300 per day if the shutdown continues beyond October 20th.

So, with recent snow, as well as areas of the park still closed due to last months' flood, visitors should be aware of what's open and what's closed.

First of all, there are now two routes to Estes Park that are open to travelers:

The 'Peak to Peak' Highway: From I-70 west of Denver, take Hwy 119 north through Blackhawk to the town of Nederland where Hwy 119 turns into Hwy 72. Continue on Hwy 72 to where it meets Hwy 7, and then follow Hwy 7 into Estes Park.

Hwy 119 from Boulder to Nederland: Take Hwy 119 from Boulder (Canyon Road in Boulder becomes Hwy 119) towards Nederland. In Nederland, turn north onto Hwy 72 towards Estes Park. Continue on Hwy 72 to where it meets Hwy 7, and then follow Hwy 7 into Estes Park.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road is still closed due to drifting snow (2 to 5 foot drifts), ice, high winds and below freezing temperatures. According to a park press release it's unknown whether the road will reopen again this season. Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all season road, as there are 11 miles of road that travel above 11,500 feet. Last year, Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season on October 17th, but never reopened after October 11th.

However, Gov. Hickenlooper stated in a press release that "Trail Ridge Road will also reopen as soon as the highway can be plowed to help with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Estes Park and Larimer County."

For the latest status on Trail Ridge Road you can call 970-586-1222.

Open areas in the park include Bear Lake Road, Lumpy Ridge, Upper Beaver Meadows, Longs Peak Road, and Wild Basin Road to the winter parking.

Visitors to Wild Basin should expect detours and trail closures. Also, the bridge at Ouzel Falls is missing and the section of trail between the Finch Lake junction and Calypso Cascades is closed. Watch for detour signs.

One loop in Moraine Park Campground is open on the east side of the park. Timber Creek Campground is open on the west side of the park. The water is off and dump station is closed in both campgrounds. Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, and Kawuneeche Visitor Center are open daily.

You may also want to note that a few small areas of the park remain closed due to flood damage, such as the Twin Sisters Trail, Aspenglen Campground, Longs Peak Campground, McGraw Ranch Road and Cow Creek Trailhead, Dunraven Trailhead to the North Fork Trails, and the Ypsilon and Lawn Lake trails. Endovalley Road and Old Fall River Road are also closed to all use, including pedestrian traffic.

With the park now reopened, many of the trails have also reopened. For detailed information on many of the hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, please click here.


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