Due to last week’s major snowstorm and continuing winter conditions at high elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road’s opening will be delayed and will not open over the Memorial Day Holiday.
According to Park Superintendent, Darla Sidles, “Last week’s snowstorm has hampered our efforts. Last Wednesday, we were on track to open the road and were digging out facilities. This week, our plow operators are facing 8 to 14 feet of snow on Trail Ridge Road. The extended forecast above 10,000 feet for snow, winds and overnight temperatures in the upper 20s will prevent us from opening the road this holiday.”
Park snowplow operators will continue to plow the road; the road will open as soon as it is safe to do so. Due to the extended forecast for winter conditions at higher elevations, it is too soon to predict when that might be.
Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. Plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet and are accustomed to plowing the same section of road over and over. Trail Ridge Road was completed in 1932. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. In 2011, the road opened on June 6.
Park staff expect a busy Memorial Day Weekend throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. The three reservation campgrounds in the park are full for the weekend. Timber Creek Campground on the west side of the park is first-come, first-served. Vehicle restrictions may be in place on the Bear Lake Road corridor if full parking lots and congestion warrants. Visitors planning to recreate in the park’s backcountry, depending on their destination, should be prepared for a variety of conditions including snow, ice, slush and mud. Today, the Bear Lake Trailhead has 30 inches of snow.
For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park Information Office at (970) 586-1206, the Trail Ridge Road status recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222 or check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/romo.