Trail Ridge Road
Road Status: Closed October 22, 2013 for Winter.
Trail Ridge Road spans the Park and connects Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake on the western slope. It's the highest continuously paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet.
It is open to vehicle traffic from Memorial Day weekend until the Park Service closes it in the fall. Temporary closings may occur in early June or late fall because of snow. It's usually October before the Park Service gives up fighting the snow and turns the road back to Mother Nature for the winter.
Take a virtual tour of the famous Trail Ridge Road:
The many turnouts along Trail Ridge Road provide scenic overlooks and tremendous photographic opportunities, day or night. The night time view from Rainbow Curve is spectacular. City lights from Fort Collins to Denver are visible.
Trail Ridge Road travels through forests, above tree line, over the alpine tundra, reaches the high point, and crosses the Continental Divide before winding its way down to the town of Grand Lake. There are numerous trails and short hikes available from Trail Ridge Road.
Just west of the high point is Fall River Pass, elevation 11,796 feet, and the Alpine Visitor Center. Many elk, deer and bighorn sheep move to the high country in the summer and can sometimes be seen from the deck of the Visitor Center. Rest rooms, a restaurant and a gift shop are also located in this area. The temperatures can be cool at this altitude, so you'll want to bring a jacket along just in case.
A note concerning the alpine tundra - This is an extremely fragile ecosystem. Please stay on the marked trails. Crushed growth takes many decades to heal.