Road Status: Closed for winter
The Old Fall River Road was the only road to Fall River Pass, and the first route over the Continental Divide until Trail Ridge Road was built in the early 1920s.
It follows a route used for centuries by Indian hunters who came to Estes Park to hunt game.
Today it is a one-way (uphill) 11 mile dirt road that runs between Endovalley and the Pass. It is narrow with some steep grades and has many switchbacks with sharp turns, but it is a beautiful and safe drive.
The speed limit is 15 mph, so it’s definitely a slower route than Trail Ridge Road to the alpine tundra.
Stop at the entrance of the Old Fall River Road to view the map that points out interesting sites and geological areas that you’ll pass on your way up to Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center.
One of these is Chasm Falls. There is a parking area at the falls if you want to take the short, steep walk to the bottom of the falls. The falls are about 30 ft high.
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.
The Park Service does not plow this road except for the last portion near the Alpine Visitor Center. Each year after the snow melts, the road is graded to smooth it out before it is opened for vehicle traffic.
Opening date for the Old Fall River Road is usually around the 4th of July.
Starting around Oct 11, Old Fall River Road remains open to bikes, leashed pets, and walkers thru Nov. 30.
Then, starting around April 1, bikes and pedestrians (including dogs on leash) can use the road Sat – Mon all day, and Tues – Fri before 6am and after 4:30pm until it opens to traffic in July.
Snow usually closes the road sometime in late September or October, and it converts to a winter trail for snowshoers and cross country skiers.
Bikes and pets are not allowed on the road in the winter.