Today, Friday, November 18, 2016, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park officially closed for the season to through travel. The most popular destinations for this time of year including Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park and the section of Trail Ridge Road along the Kawuneeche Valley are all open. These are all great areas for hiking and wildlife watching.
Trail Ridge Road, one of the most impressive alpine 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 communities of Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west. Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all season road with 11 miles above 11,500 feet and few guard rails and no shoulder. There are winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet. The road is currently closed at Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Many Parks Curve on the east side.
According to superintendent Darla Sidles, “The mild weather this fall has given us a rare opportunity to enjoy Trail Ridge Road this late in the season. During this most recent storm we have received an accumulation of snow accompanied by high winds and freezing temperatures. Driving conditions are extremely hazardous at higher elevations. With the extended forecast of winds and below freezing temperatures, snow clearing operations become futile above 10,000 feet. 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.”
The latest Trail Ridge Road has closed was on December 2, 1933. The average winter closure dates for Trail Ridge Road have been October 23. Although often times the road closes earlier and does not reopen, the previous ten year’s official closure dates are: October 29, 2015, November 4, 2014, October 22, 2013, October 17, 2012, October 27, 2011, October 29, 2010, October 21, 2009, November 6, 2008, October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006. The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 28.
Old Fall River Road closed for the season on October 3. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets until December 1, re-opening on April 1, except during road maintenance operations and emergency closures as posted. Cyclists and pet owners may utilize the road at their own risk. On December 1, both of these roads will revert to "winter trail status" which means that bicycles and leashed pets are not permitted beyond the closed gates.
For current road conditions and other park information, please visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.