Trail Ridge Road Closed For the Season
On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season to through travel. Since Thursday, October 11, Trail Ridge Road has been closed due to consistent winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet. 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 gateway communities of Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west. The road is currently closed at Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Many Parks Curve on the east side.
According to park superintendent Vaughn Baker, “We continue to get snowfall at high elevations combined with strong winds. The snow will continue to blow and drift at higher elevations, making snow clearing operations and driving conditions extremely hazardous. 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 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 27, 2011, October 29, 2010, October 21, 2009, November 6, 2008, October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006, November 4, 2005, October 25, 2004, November 6, 2003 and November 1, 2002. The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened early on May 14, due to a dry and mild winter and early spring.
Old Fall River Road officially closed for the season on October 10, 2012. Old Fall River Road is an unpaved road that travels from Endovalley picnic area to above treeline at Fall River Pass, following the steep slope of Mount Chapin. Due to the road’s narrow nature, the scenic 9.4-mile route leading to Trail Ridge Road is one way only.
Trail Ridge Road is now in “winter trail status” which means that bicycles and pets are not permitted beyond the closed gates. However, until signed otherwise, Old Fall River Road remains in “winter road status, ” which means that cyclists and leashed pets are still permitted beyond the closed gate as long as signing does not indicate otherwise. This applies on Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center and no further. As always, pets are still prohibited on trails and outside of developed areas and road corridors. Signs at the closed gate on Old Fall River Road may be changed at any time, showing the road is closed to cyclists and pets based on weather and road conditions and/or heavy maintenance work being conducted on the road. For current road conditions and other park information, please call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.