Trail Ridge Road Closed To Through Travel For The Season
Road Construction Completed One Year Ahead of Schedule
On Friday, October 29, 2010, Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season to through travel. Since Friday, October 22, Trail Ridge Road had 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.
A major resurfacing project took place this summer and early fall on a 19 mile section of Trail Ridge Road from the Colorado River Trailhead to Rainbow Curve. This project also involved resurfacing of all major overlook parking areas, pull-offs and the parking lot at Alpine Visitor Center. The project was scheduled to take place during two summers but the project was completed a year ahead of schedule and within budget ($17.2 million). According to park superintendent Vaughn Baker, “We are thrilled that this final project on Trail Ridge Road was completed in one year. We have had major work on this one of a kind road for three of the past four years. All aspects of the construction have been funded by the Federal Lands Highway Program for a total of $34.2 million. It is the first major work on the road since it was built in 1932. Starting next spring, we will have many more decades to come without construction delays on Trail Ridge Road.”
“The mild fall helped the contractors complete the project, but now after recent snowfall accumulation at high elevations in the park, with the accompanying wind and ice, as well as the forecast for periodic storms at high elevations, we have decided to officially close Trail Ridge Road for the season. The snow continues 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 21, 2009, November 6, 2008, October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006, November 4, 2005, October 25, 2004, November 6, 2003, November 1, 2002, October 18, 2001, and November 2, 2000. 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, 2010.
Old Fall River Road officially closed for the season on October 13, 2010. 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. Both roads have reverted to trail status; therefore bicycles and dogs are not permitted. For current road conditions and other park information, please call (970) 586-1206.