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Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is one of the most breathtaking and unique scenic byways in the country. Opened in 1932, the road covers 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, with 11 miles stretching across the tundra at an elevation close to 12,000ft. Traffic can move slowly and wildlife can be on the road, so plan for at least a three-hour trip, and drive with care.

Historic stone-wall turnouts provide ample space to stop and take in the views. Many Parks Curve offers expansive vistas of Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Deer Mountain, Mt. Meeker, and Longs Peak, the sole 14er in Rocky.

Rock Cut has some parking and vault toilets. You can take a half-mile walk on Tundra Communities Trail for a close-up view of the many tiny alpine plants and flowers that hug the ground. Stay on the trail, as footprints damage the fragile tundra that may take hundreds of years to recover.

From the Alpine Visitor Center, travel west to Milner Pass and the Continental Divide. Water on the east side drains into the Platte River, which flows to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. The water on the west side flows down the Colorado River to California.

At Farview Curve, that timid stream winding across the Kawuneeche Valley is the Colorado River. From here, it starts a 1,450-mile journey through mountain canyons and three major deserts on its way to California. Moose and elk often graze along the river. Drive carefully as animals are often right next to the road.

Enjoy the View

Being able to drive in the comfort of our vehicles through this amazing tundra landscape is an experience distinctly unique to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Though well maintained, Trail Ridge Road has many curves and switchbacks and is often narrow, with few guardrails or shoulders.

Beginning in April, it typically takes snowplows up to six weeks to carve through 30ft-high drifts to clear the road, often leaving towering walls of snow next to the pavement. The road is usually open late-May through mid-October, depending on the weather. Elk, bighorn sheep, and the occasional marmot often cross the road. Stay alert.

The Alpine Visitor Center

AVC sits at 11,796ft above sea level and is the highest visitor center in the entire national park system. Its large picture windows offer spectacular views.

Trail Ridge Store next door has souvenirs, food, and restrooms. Test your legs and lungs on the Alpine Ridge Trail (Huffers Hill), a short, steep trek that starts at the Alpine Visitor Center and climbs 200ft in three-tenths of a mile. The trail tops out at more than 12,000ft and offers spectacular 360-degree views.

The Alpine Visitor Center is a popular spot, so go early or late in the day as the parking lot can fill up.

High Season

Most people visit RMNP in summer and on fall weekends, so expect congestion on roads, in parking areas, and on popular trails. Never park along the road or on the tundra as there is no shoulder. The tundra is very fragile and will damage easily. Park only in designated spots. The busiest times in Rocky are between 10am and 3pm. By mid-morning, parking areas are often full, so tour and hike early or late in the day.


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