Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - A highway through Rocky Mountain National Park


A portion of the U.S Highway 34 which is the highest of the U.S.'s continuous highway is known as the Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway or Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge Road expands over fifty miles to the east into Grand Lake, Colorado from Estes Park, Colorado all the way through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Near the Fall River Pass the elevation of the road is over eleven thousand feet and its highest point is over twelve thousand feet. The road runs all the way across the Continental Divide at Milner Pass.

The snowpack on the road determines how long it is closed. The Trail Ridge Road can remain closed until summer when it is closed for the winter. The road begins at the Grand Lake Entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park's Kawuneeche Visitor Center and heads north along the North Fork of the Colorado River though Kawuneeche Valley. The Colorado River Trailhead is part of the road that gets closed for the winter. There are a number of trailheads that are found along this portion of the road.

The Trail Ridge Road turns into a series of winding curves as it turns to the east and gets higher when it passes the Colorado River Trailhead. There is a view of the Never Summer Mountains and the Kawuneeche Valley from the overlook located at Farview Curve. The Trail Ridge Road goes over the Continental Divide with the Milner Pass and goes around the Medicine Bow Curve before it joins Fall River Road near the Alpine Visitor Center at the Fall River Pass.

Trail Ridge Road goes east past the Alpine Visitor Center where it reaches its highest point between Lava Cliffs and Gore Range overlooks at 12,183 feet. The road goes down when as it passes Rock Cut, Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon overlooks. The area known as Many Parks Curve is a portion of the road that closes during the winter. A popular area for recreation during the winter is the Hidden Valley which has heated restrooms and a shelter for getting warm.

Trail Ridge Road ends where U.S. 34 and U.S. 36 come together in Estes Park at the Deer Ridge Junction. The Rocky Mountain National Park got its first road through the highest portions of the mountains when the road was opened during 1921. The single grade road was not adequate for travel by car with the steep grades, short season and tight curves. Additional construction was begun on the Trail Ridge Road during 1926 to make it easier to travel. Today the Trail Ridge Road is popular with motorcyclists.

Anyone visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado should make it a point to travel along the Trail Ridge Road and explore the sites along the way. Travelers should make themselves aware of road closing due to the weather and conditions that could cause the road to be too dangerous to travel; caution should be used at all times while traveling the Trail Ridge Road.

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