Colorado's Trail Ridge Road
The Trail Ridge Road bisects Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park while running 48 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet while crossing the Continental Divide and is America's highest continuously paved road. Eleven miles of the route above tree line feature the stark tundra world commonly found above the Arctic Circle. As it winds across the tundra's vastness Trail Ridge Road (US-34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibits.
In the windswept alpine world above timber line, conditions resemble those found in the Canadian or Alaskan Arctic. It's normally windy and 20 to 30 degrees colder than Estes Park or Grand Lake. Because of the lack of trees there is no shelter from the wind. In the photo, right, taken at Fall River Pass, elevation 11,796 feet, the ferocious wind made it impossible to hold the camera steady.
The east and west sides of the Continental Divide present different worlds to park visitors. The roads and trails of Rocky Mountain National Park's east side lie close to the jagged peaks of the divide with huge looming vistas. Hikers can reach the high country in a few short miles on the trail. The route on the west side lies more distant from the peaks and presents a worlds of meadows and thick forests. While both sides of the park are open all year, the higher elevations of Trail Ridge Road are open generally late May through September.
Map of Colorado's Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park
Some features on this map can be clicked on to view further information.
Best in the West Guide - Spectacular Scenic Routes