Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators from the east side and west sides of the park met on Trail Ridge Road on Wednesday, May 29, for the first time this year.
East side plow operators were again able to reached the Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store area. They initially reached the Alpine Visitor Center complex on May 15 - soon afterwards multiple spring snow storms pushed plow efforts back to lower elevations on Trail Ridge Road.
Photographs attached are of conditions May 28 through today along the road as well as the Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store complex. It is too soon to predict when Trail Ridge Road will open for the season. The extended forecast for higher elevations is improving next week.
When plow operators began plowing in mid-April they reported that the snowpack conditions were average to below average. That changed in May. Snowplow operators experienced a lot of drifting snow on the east side, which indicates there was a lot of high winds over the course of the winter. The drifting snow is depicted with the photos of Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store.
Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States - reaching 12,183 feet in elevation.
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. Park 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.