Trail Ridge Road opens for the season, then closes after the storm

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TheTrail Ridge Store is pictured May 15, 2019 in Rocky Mountain National Park. The road opened for the season on May 27 but temporarily closed on Sunday following a winter storm.
National Park Service/Courtesy Photo

The Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park opened for the summer season on Friday, May 27, but closed again on Sunday due to winter storm conditions at higher elevations. Winter weather has persisted at higher elevations in the park since Sunday.

On Tuesday, park plow operators and trail crews encountered drifts of 1 to 3 feet. Due to the amount of snow on the road above 10,000 feet and a large boulder that fell on the road, Trail Ridge Road is still closed on the east side of the park at Many Parks Curve and on the west side of the park at Colorado. River Trailhead, until the Thursday deadline. The road should fully reopen once cleared.

The public can call 970 586-1222 for the latest status of Trail Ridge Road and any closures.



The road is the highest continuously paved highway in the United States, climbing 12,183 feet at its highest point. It connects the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. It usually opens on Memorial Day weekend and closes in October.

The route was opened two days before three climbers were caught in an avalanche and rockfall on the east side of the park. A man died in the landslide.



A Colorado National Guard helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base was used to extract it via a hoisting operation, using a winch-operated cable.

On May 19, a 21-year-old woman from Illinois slipped into Adams Falls on the west side of the park and died. As always, visitors should exercise caution when traveling in the park. This applies to driving on Trail Ridge Road as well as rock climbing, hiking, and other forms of recreation.

Addressing the avalanche on Sunday, park spokesman Kyle Patterson said recent storms have brought more snow to high elevation areas of Rocky. When the sun heats up, natural avalanches can occur. The investigation into Sunday’s tragic rockfall and avalanche in the Dreamweaver Passage on Mount Meeker is ongoing.

“When heading into the backcountry, park visitors should avoid traversing or traversing steep snow slopes unless they have the equipment and knowledge to do so,” he said. she adds.

Visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website for avalanche forecasts and safety information at Avalanche.state.co.us.

“It’s also the time of year to be wary of walking on thin ice on alpine lakes,” Patterson said. “Snow bridges can also collapse under your weight when crossing streams, rivers and creeks. It is always important to be careful around any fast moving water, especially during spring runoff. Rivers, streams, streams and waterfalls are fast moving and cold due to spring snowmelt. Banks and rocks can be icy, wet and slippery. Although the water may look inviting, remember that the current is faster than it looks. Keep an eye out especially for young children, who are naturally drawn to water.

It is essential to know before you go when recreating and traveling by vehicle in the mountains. Trail Ridge Road has seen its share of winter storms over the past two weeks with low visibility, snow accumulation, ice and freezing temperatures.

To see the weather forecast specifically for Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge Road, visit NPS.gov/romo/planyourvisit/. For the most up-to-date closings and openings, call the park’s registered phone line at 970-586-1222 or follow @RockyNPS on Twitter.

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