Trail Ridge Road opens day earlier than expected
Rocky Mountain National Park officials made the surprising announcement just after noon on Thursday that Trail Ridge Road had opened one day earlier than expected, thanks to the good weather and efforts of the park’s maintenance crews.
Plans to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for the official summer opening of the road, also known as Highway 34, have not changed. The ribbon cutting, with local officials invited to attend, will be held at noon at the Alpine Visitor Center near the highest point in the road.
The Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store are anticipated to open for the season on Friday. And, at this time, night time closures of the road will not be implemented, according to park officials.
The 48-mile stretch of highway through Rocky Mountain National Park, running from Grand Lake to Estes Park, has the unique distinction of being the highest continuous paved road in the United States and reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet at its highest point.
This year’s seasonal opening tracks closely with the park’s historic opening date for Trail Ridge Road, which is typically held over the Memorial Day weekend. Open as of Thursday, this year beat 2017’s opening date by more than a week.
In 2017, the road officially opened for the summer on Wednesday, May 31, which was slightly later than the 2016 opening date of May 28. In 2015, Trail Ridge Road opened on May 29. The opening dates for the past four years have all been well behind the 2014 opening date of May 23. It is not uncommon for Rocky Mountain National Park to close the highway overnight after initially opening the road as it did in 2014, though park officials have made no mention of potential overnight closures expected in 2018.
The earliest date that Trail Ridge Road has opened for the summer was in 2002 when the highway became accessible to through traffic on May 7. The latest date Trail Ridge Road has opened was on June 26 in 1943.
Daily conditions of Trail Ridge Road are available anytime via a recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222.
Lindsey Marlow grew up on the West Coast, but she’s no saltwater snob. That’s a good thing, because this month she started as program manager for Friends of the Yampa, becoming the organization’s first full-time staff member.