Planning on driving along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) this summer? It’s a popular scenic drive near Estes Park and an amazing way to see the park with its unrivaled elevation and status as one of the top roads of America’s Byways in Colorado.
The 48-mile road was first opened to drivers in 1932 and climbs as high as 12,000 ft. with about 11 miles of the trail above the treeline! Take in the changing scenery and surroundings from aspen trees to forests of spruce as you make your way toward Grand Lake.
Trail Ridge Road notable pull-offs:
- Rainbow Curve – This is one of the best views of the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park! With ample parking, view finders, and a restroom, this is a great place to stretch your legs and take a few photos before heading into the alpine tundra.
- Forest Canyon Overlook – If you’re looking for the most expansive view of the Continental Divide, this is your spot. The Forest Canyon overlook includes incredible views of Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, Otis Peak, Longs Peak, Mt. Ida, and more. Often, herds of elk escape the heat of lower elevations and relax near this area in summer. Make sure to keep an eye on the sky – storms can quickly roll in, and being exposed on the treeless tundra is never a good idea.
- Alpine Visitor Center – Looking for lunch? The Alpine Visitor Center (or AVC, as the locals call it) is a perfect halfway point between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Enjoy light shopping, short hikes to various viewpoints, and delicious lunch, all with million dollar views of the Continental Divide and the Never Summer Range.
- Farview Curve – On your way to or from Grand Lake, Farview Curve is the place to stop and get a view of the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll see the Kawuneechee Valley and the Colorado River, as well as additional views of the Never Summer Range. Keep an eye out for moose! While they can be found on both sides of RMNP, they frequent the west side.
Insider tip: An early morning drive up Trail Ridge Road is the best time to go. You’ll experience less traffic, gorgeous sunrises, and a bit more solitude at the top of the world. Stay at a riverside condo at Fawn Valley Inn and you’ll wake up only minutes from the entrance to RMNP.