Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles of mind-boggling scenery across Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and vast alpine tundra stretching across Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park, CO, to Grand Lake, CO.
One of the most breathtaking drives in Colorado. Trail Ridge Road is one of ten America Byways in Colorado and a nationally designated All-American Road.
The road is paved and well-maintained but challenging to drive. You can expect to maneuver steep cliffs in areas nearer the summit with no guardrails. However, drive slowly and watch the weather forecast before heading out. Expect snow, sleet, or heavy rains, don’t go.
Pull-offs along Trail Ridge Road allow you to take photos and marvel at the surroundings. Many offer hikes up to a summit for a full view! The most popular overlooks are; Rainbow Curve Overlook, Fairview Curve Overlook, and Forest Canyon Overlook.
Alpine Visitor Center has a hike up to fabulous views and has restrooms. The gift shop is a wonder of Colorado souvenirs and worth a peek.
The highest point on Trail Ridge Road is 12,183′. Colorado weather can change in minutes at high elevations. Hiking up the various short hikes to summits was challenging due to the high winds and cold. Bring extra layers, a beanie & gloves. You will be happy you did!
Big Horn Sheep sometimes linger on the road, causing bottlenecks that make your drive longer! We, however, did not spot any on our drive, but it is a high probability of having a sighting.
Day Hikes of Rocky Mountain National Park Map Guide – Covers the entire Park and Trail Ridge Road. I carry it in the Park!
I am a 50-year Colorado outdoor enthusiast, and this is one drive that still takes my breath away every time. If the weather holds, hike a trail, there is no other area like this one.
On the west side of Trail Ridge Road, find Lake Irene to stretch your legs and have a picnic. It’s lovely. Plus has a restroom!
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WHAT TO KNOW IN ADVANCE
RESERVATION PERMITS AND ENTRY FEES: A reservation is required from 9 am – 2:30 pm. Arrive super early, before 9 am, and before long lines of cars arrive to enter the Park and skip the reservation. National Park Entry Fee or Park Pass required.
ROAD OPENINGS & CLOSINGS: There is a short window when Trail Ridge Road is open, generally from Memorial Weekend to the middle of October.
CHECK THE WEATHER & ROAD CONDITIONS: Unpredictable and a must before driving Trail Ridge Road.
STAY HYDRATED: Bring extra water at a high altitude.
CHECK THE WEBSITE for all relevant information: > ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
WEST ENTRANCE – GRAND LAKE, CO
EAST ENTRANCE – ESTES PARK, CO
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