Due to late spring snowfall and continuing winter-like conditions at high elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road’s opening will be delayed and will not open to vehicles over the Memorial Day 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 ongoing snow accumulation, winds and below freezing temperatures at higher elevations, it is too soon to predict when that might be.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are able to travel on the road. When plowing is taking place, for visitor safety, park plow operators will post signs that indicate the point on the road where pedestrian and bicycle travel is not allowed, past that point. It is critical that pedestrians and bicycles adhere to those closures. Depending on the day and conditions the distance that pedestrians and bicycles are allowed to travel on the road will vary.
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 and the Wild Basin area if full parking lots and congestion warrants. Visitors planning to recreate in the park’s backcountry, depending on their destination, should prepare for a variety of conditions including snow, ice, slush and mud. As of May 15, the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at 9,475 feet, has 35 inches of snow.
For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park’s 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