The town of Estes Park, Colorado, is the gateway to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, and although it's a delightful small town, it's typically a very busy place during the summer. "Very busy" will likely be an understatement on Saturday, August 24,when one leg of the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge bike race passes through Estes Park.
According to information from race organizers, "This event has the potential to be the largest single-day event that Estes Park has ever seen. Expect road closures, detours, increased security, and large crowds of spectators for the entire day of the race, with some arriving in the days prior to the race."
The race route won't pass through the park itself, but there's no way in or out of the major destinations on the east side of the park without going through Estes Park. US 34 between Estes Park and Loveland through Big Thompson Canyon will also be impacted by the race.
US 34 is one of three primary routes from the rest of the state to Estes Park, so plan ahead if you expect to travel to—or leave—the area on August 24. You'll find details about that stage of the race on the Pro Challenge website.
So, what impacts might visitors going to or from Rocky Mountain National Park expect on the day of the race?
Information from the park advises, "On Saturday, August 24, ...visitors who plan to enter Rocky Mountain National Park on the east side through Beaver Meadows Entrance or Fall River Entrance on Saturday, August 24, should plan to arrive by 8:00 a.m. Numerous planned road closures in the Estes Park community, listed below, will affect access to and from the park. Those planning to access the park from the west side and leave from the east side should also plan accordingly."
"Due to road closures adjacent to the park’s east side, the Hiker Shuttle from Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park will not operate. The shuttle routes inside the park along the Bear Lake Road corridor will operate as usual."
Here's the list of roads serving the park that will be impacted:
• US Highway 36, which is the road to Beaver Meadows Entrance, will close at approximately 9:00 a.m. until late afternoon. There will be detours in place which will result in delays to reach the park.
• US Highway 34, which is the road to Fall River Entrance, will close from approximately noon to 3:00 p.m. There will be detours in place which will result in delays to reach the park.
• Visitors who plan to exit on the east side of the park (Highway 34 or 36) should exit after 4:00 p.m. to avoid detours, heavy congestion and delays.
• The Dunraven Trailhead and Lumpy Ridge Trailhead will be inaccessible for most of the day on August 24.
The key point for visitors to the park on the day of the race is summed up rather tactfully in the following sentence:
"Visitors who plan to come to Rocky Mountain National Park through the east entrances on Saturday, August 24, will have a more enjoyable time if they arrive by 8:00 a.m. and are prepared to stay in the park throughout the day.
You can find Estes Park race route maps including parking, viewing, closure times, security information and tips on the Town of Estes Park’s website at this link. Additional information related to the Pro Challenge and travel within the park can be found at this page on the park website.
On the day of the race you can get traffic updates for the park by following the park on Twitter at RMNPOfficial.