Take The High Road in CO

If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure in Colorado, look no further than Trail Ridge Road. The highest continuous paved road in the United States, climbing to a breathtaking 12,183 feet. The experience that promises spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife, and an ever-changing climate. Gerald recently drove this route and captured some incredible moments, including skiers gearing up at the Alpine Visitor Center, two majestic bull moose, and snow as high as the building at the visitor center. Let’s dive into what makes Trail Ridge Road a must-see destination in Colorado.

Trail Ridge Road connects the charming towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, offering travelers an unparalleled journey through Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road, which typically closes for the season between Labor Day and Memorial Day, showcases the raw beauty of the Rockies. Each spring, beginning in April, the National Park Service undertakes the monumental task of clearing the snow. Crews from both the east and west sides of the park work diligently, meeting up at the Alpine Visitor Center—the highest in the National Park Service at a breathtaking elevation of 11,796 feet.

The drive along Trail Ridge Road is nothing short of spectacular. Imagine leaving Estes Park on an 85-degree day and ascending to the top of the world, where you might encounter wind, rain, or even the occasional snow squalls. This dramatic change in climate is due to the elevation and the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide runs through the park and creates distinct weather patterns. Therefore, it’s crucial to be prepared for all types of weather when embarking on this journey.

To manage the influx of visitors and preserve the pristine environment, Rocky Mountain National Park has implemented a timed entry permit reservation system during peak hours from 9 am to 2 pm. This system helps reduce congestion and ensures that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Trail Ridge Road without overcrowding. Be sure to secure your permit in advance to guarantee your entry during these peak times.

One of the highlights of driving Trail Ridge Road is the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Gerald’s journey was marked by the sight of two bull moose, a rare and awe-inspiring experience. Typically there were very few moose on the Eastern slope of the divide. The wildfires burned most of the habitat on the western slope which created a migration of moose to new food sources on the eastern slope. Additionally, the higher elevations are often frequented by elk, which can sometimes be seen lounging near the road. The presence of these majestic animals adds an element of magic to the drive, making it a true Colorado adventure.

A pivotal point on Trail Ridge Road is the Alpine Visitor Center. At 11,796 feet, this center provides visitors with stunning panoramic views and a wealth of information
about the park’s geology, climate, and wildlife. During Gerald’s visit, the snow was so high that it reached the height of the building, illustrating the sheer volume of snowfall the area receives. The visitor center is a great place to take a break, get a cup of coffee, shop for some souvenirs and enjoy the views. The visitors center also offers educational exhibits that enhance your understanding of the park’s unique environment.

Gerald’s trip also included capturing photos of skiers carrying their equipment across the road, ready to tackle the snowy slopes. This scene is a testament to the diverse
recreational opportunities available in Rocky Mountain National Park. Whether you’re into skiing, hiking, or simply enjoying a scenic drive, Trail Ridge Road offers something for everyone.

Driving Trail Ridge Road truly feels like being on top of the world. The combination of stunning landscapes including the very fragile tundra and the bristle cone pines. The varied weather, and abundant wildlife creates an experience that is both exhilarating and humbling. It’s a reminder of the beauty and power of nature, and a call to appreciate and protect these magnificent environments.

Want to add a little side trip to your Colorado Trail Ridge trip. Go up Old Fall River Road. It’s a one way dirt road that provides it’s own excitement for your trip. This was
the road that was used prior to Trail Ridge being completed. It’s not always open so check with the Rangers when you enter the park.

If you’re planning to take the high road in CO, remember to prepare for all types of weather, dress in layers and secure your timed entry permit in advance. The drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake along Trail Ridge Road is more than just a journey—it’s an adventure that promises memories to last a lifetime.

Ready to explore Trail Ridge Road and experience the highest continuous paved road in the United States? Plan your trip today and secure your timed entry permit. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable Colorado adventure.