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Old 09-09-2010, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
22,101 posts, read 10,275,420 times
Reputation: 20122

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One thing I'd like to do before it closes for the season is drive the Old Fall River Road. But I get conflicting reports. A majority tell me any passenger car will be okay on the road. But a sizable minority tell me it is not suitable for most passenger cars.

Anyone with experience? For the record, I have a Buick Lacrosse.

Thanks
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Old 09-09-2010, 03:15 PM
 
Location: CO
2,591 posts, read 5,987,611 times
Reputation: 3407
Quote:
Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
One thing I'd like to do before it closes for the season is drive the Old Fall River Road. But I get conflicting reports. A majority tell me any passenger car will be okay on the road. But a sizable minority tell me it is not suitable for most passenger cars.

Anyone with experience? For the record, I have a Buick Lacrosse.

Thanks
Old Fall River Road is fine for any vehicle.

Old Fall River Road

Quote:
The Old Fall River Road was the only road to Fall River Pass until Trail Ridge Road was built in the early 1930s. Today it is a one-way dirt road that runs between Endovalley and the Pass. It is narrow and has many switchbacks, but it is a beautiful and safe drive.

Old Fall River RoadThere is a map available at the entrance of the Old Fall River Road that points out many interesting sites and geological areas on your way to Fall River Pass.

One of these is Chasm Falls. There is a parking area at the falls if you would like to take the short walk to the bottom of the falls.

Many varieties and colors of wildflowers grow along the Old Fall River Road. Also, be sure to watch for elk, deer, bighorn sheep and marmots when you get above tree line. . .
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:08 PM
 
Location: most beautiful place ever
1,836 posts, read 3,565,225 times
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I agree, i drove it with a compact rental car, no problem.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:15 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,020,776 times
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Wink Old Fall River Road

Your Buick Lacrosse will be fine. It is a good dirt road with few places a normal car would bottom out or hit a rock. The NPS has a prohibition against overly large vehicles. Vehicles with low ground clearance, such as some sports cars, should not attempt this road.

However, be aware that this is a relatively narrow dirt road that is one-way only, uphill, from its beginning near the far Endo Valley picnic area to its finish when emerging at the Alpine Visitor's Center. It is uphill most all the way for 9 miles, with many sharp switchbacks to navigate. The Alpine Visitor's Center, at the far terminus of this road, is on the west side of the divide, at an elevation of 11,798 feet. This the junction of the Old Fall River Road with Trail Ridge Road, now the major and favored route across RMNP.

It is a beautiful drive, the original and once only way. If fearful of mountain roads or sharp dropoffs, one should not attempt this road. If paved, Trail Ridge Road has plenty of spots where one might have a spectacularly bad accident, and end up far below. There is nothing like a narrow switchback on dirt to wonder if one really might. But if one loves such things, then it is great.

Then also, one might take a certain confidence in numbers, as a lot of people drive this road. That is another consideration in itself. It can prove a long 9 miles if stuck behind someone creeping along, eating their dust the entire way. There is NO place to pass. There are however a few wider places scattered along the length of this road where someone might pull over to let other traffic pass, or just stop to enjoy the view. But for that you are dependent on their civility. In other words, unless with lots of time and patience, or liking traffic, timing is everything. This road will see some traffic during the entire summer season it is open. During daylight hours. Most especially on any weekend. However it is possible to enjoy this road with little to no other traffic at twilight, or other less popular times.

It is certainly worth the drive. One area of note, not far from the beginning, is Chasm Falls, where the Fall river picturesquely drops down a sheer number of waterfalls, quite near the road with easy access. As this road parallels the Fall river, one will see it again, although more usually at a distance. There are also trailheads for hiking which can be accessed in no other way. Particularly in spring, one will encounter snowfields along the higher reaches of this road, as it nears the Alpine Visitor's Center. Since there is but one choice of direction, a fine drive is to take the Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor's Center, then the paved Trail Ridge Road back east towards Estes Park.

If taking such a journey, you might note the areas, such as at Chasm Falls and the 5 Mile mark, where the beautiful Fall river comes close enough to be admired. Also, how the runoff from the dirt road in these places negatively impacts the otherwise pristine Fall river in any rain. Perhaps ask the NPS at the Beaver Meadows Headquarters why there is no provision against this?

Enjoy.
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