image of trail ridge road

All You Need to Know About the Plowing of Trail Ridge Road

05/21/2021 | by Lyles Armour | Local Area Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular drives and destinations within the park. Because of this, its seasonal opening and closing is always a thing to note when visiting the area. To help better plan your trip to RMNP, read here for more about the plowing of Trail Ridge Road.

About Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved road in the United States, at its highest point of 12,183 feet. The road spans Rocky Mountain National Park, connecting Estes Park and Grand Lake. Wind your way through beautiful mountain scenery, including dense forests and alpine tundra, reaching its high point, and crossing the Continental Divide.

The total distance is 48 miles long, with 11 of those miles above treeline, taking about two hours to drive. Or take the entire day and stop off at one of the many overlooks and hiking trails along the way.

Discover these other scenic drives near Estes Park.

When is Trail Ridge Road open?

Trail Ridge Road is a seasonal road that is open mid-May through early October, of course, all depending on the weather. Be sure to check Rocky Mountain National Park’s website for updated road openings and closings.

When is the earliest Trail Ridge Road has opened?

The earliest Trail Ridge Road has opened was on May 2, 2002. In contrast, the latest it has opened was on June 26th, 1943. To be safe you can usually expect the road to fully open on Memorial Day weekend.

Plowing Trail Ridge Road

Snowplow operations begin in mid-April. There are two different snowplow crews, one working from the Eastside and one from the Westside. Meeting in the middle at the Alpine Visitor Center plows chip away at the snow a little bit at a time.

How much snow is there to plow?

Generally, snowplows can encounter anywhere from 18 to 25 feet of snow. And because spring in Rocky Mountain National Park, especially in higher elevation, can bring plentiful snow, plowing the same section over and over again is not uncommon.

Why visit now?

One of the best times to drive Trail Ridge Road is when it first opens for the season. It’s then that you can drive between snow walls that can reach up to 20 feet! It makes for an unforgettable sight and a spectacular photo opportunity.

Stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts

elk ridge retreat
Outside Elk Ridge Retreat

To experience the plowing of Trail Ridge Road, visit Estes Park in the spring and be sure to book your stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts. With our rustic mountain retreats that include cabins with a private hot tub and cottages on the river, we have you covered for your spring getaway to Estes Park. As always, be sure to check our specials to help you save even more on your Estes Park vacation.

Browse our accommodations and book your stay with us today!

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