Don't use Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park as a climate-change gauge. While snows have now closed the road for the season, a check of past years shows this year's closure is neither particularly late nor early.
Park officials shut down the road yesterday, November 6. Old Fall River Road officially closed for the season back on October 20, 2008.
Trail Ridge Road, one of the most impressive alpine highways in the United States, is the highest continuous road in America and reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet. The road connects the Estes Park Valley 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.
“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," says park Superintendent Vaughn Baker. "The snow continues to blow and drift at higher elevations, making snow clearing operations 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.”
Trail Ridge Road was opened in 1932. The average winter closure date has been October 23. The previous eight year’s closure dates are: October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006, November 4, 2005, October 25, 2004, November 6, 2003, November 1, 2002, October 18, 2001, November 2, 2000, and November 22, 1999.
The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 23, 2008.
Both Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road 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.