Most of Rocky Mountain National Park is open for business, but visitors won't be able to travel along spectacular Trail Ridge Road just yet. Winter conditions have delayed the opening of the road indefinitely. Known as the highest continually paved road in the U.S., Trail Ridge Road usually opens around Memorial Day Weekend.
"This May's snowy and wet weather patterns have certainly hampered this year's efforts. As is typical, park plow operators have dealt with days of low to no visibility, wind, drifting snow and icy road conditions. This May, freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet, the lack of sunshine and the fact that Memorial Day is earlier this year have added to the challenges," said Rocky Mountain National Park Park Superintendent Vaughn Baker,
Park snowplow operators will continue to plow the road; the road will open as soon as it is safe to do so. Due to the extended forecast for winter conditions at higher elevations, it is too soon to predict when that might be.
Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. This occurred last Thursday, May 14, near the Gore Range overlook. Plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet and are accustomed to plowing the same section of road over and over. Trail Ridge Road was completed in 1932. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. In 2011, the road opened on June 6.
Park staff expect a busy Memorial Day Weekend throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. The three reservation campgrounds in the park are full for the weekend. Visitors planning to recreate in the park's backcountry, depending on their destination, should be prepared for a variety of conditions including snow, ice, slush and mud.
For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park Information Office at (970) 586-1206, the Trail Ridge Road status recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222 or check the park website at http://www.nps.gov/romo.