Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will not open for Memorial Day weekend

Trail Ridge Road conditions deteriorate for snow plow operations on May 20, 2019.
Courtesy / Rocky Mountain National Park

As winter weather continues to blanket the high elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park, park officials announced Wednesday that Trail Ridge Road would not open in time for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Ongoing snowplow operations in the park were forced to extend due to the late spring snowfall over the last few days, which added to the already several feet of snow from a particularly precipitous winter season. Plow operators came across a buried Alpine Visitors Center, located near the top of Trail Ridge Road, last week, and are used to seeing snow drifts in the park as tall as 18 to 22 feet.

Because of the added snow accumulations, gusty winds and below-freezing temperatures at the higher elevations, it is too soon to predict when the road would reopen for the season, according to Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Ridge Road opening and closing dates

Date | Official Opening | Official Closing

*Dates in parentheses are not opened after that date

1999, May 28, November 22 (Nov. 18)

2000, May 23, November 2 (Oct. 24)

2001, May 25, October 18 (Oct. 10)

2002, May 7, November 1 (Oct. 22)

2003, May 23, November 6 (Nov. 1)

2004, May 20, October 25 (Oct. 12)

2005, May 21, November 4 (Oct. 28)

2006, May 24, October 23 (Oct. 16)

2007, May 25, October 22

2008, May 23, November 6

2009, May 21, October 21

2010, May 28, October 29 (Oct. 22)

2011, June 6, October 27 (Oct. 22)

2012, May 14, October 17 (Oct. 11)

2013, May 24, October 22

2014, May 23, November 4

2015, May 29, October 29 (Oct. 20)

2016, May 28, November 18 (Nov. 13)

2017, May 31, October 27 (Oct 20)

2018, May 24, October 31 (Oct 5)

The delayed opening of Trail Ridge Road is not uncommon, according to Patterson. The last time it opened late was in 2017. Since 1999, Trail Ridge Road has opened after Memorial Day six times. The earliest it has opened was May 7, 2002, and the latest was June 26, 1943.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are still able to travel on the road. Crews will post signs to indicate ongoing plowing operations to alert travelers.

The current plow operations began in mid-April, beginning at both entrances and eventually meeting at the Alpine Visitor Center.

Trail Ridge Road is a staple for visitors of the park. Not only is it the park’s main thoroughfare, running from the park’s west entrance in Grand Lake to the east entrance in Estes Park, it has the distinction of being the highest continuous paved road in the country, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet.

Despite Trail Ridge Road’s delayed opening, Patterson indicated that park staff expect a busy Memorial Day weekend throughout the park. As an indicator, the three campgrounds that accept reservations in the park are already full.

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