Heavy summer snowfall closes Trail Ridge Road | SkyHiNews.com

Heavy summer snowfall closes Trail Ridge Road

A snowplow operator contends with severe weather and drifting snow while attempting to clear Trail Ridge Road over the recent weekend.
Courtesy photo

It is early summer in North American but closer to home in Colorado’s High Country winter is still lingering forcing federal officials to keep the popular scenic highway known as Trail Ridge Road closed as drifting snow makes passage dangerous.

Late last week, a series of cold weather storm fronts moved across Colorado depositing snow at high elevations including nearly two feet of new snow that fell in the Steamboat Springs area on Friday. That weekend storm cycle deposited multiple inches in the alpine territories of Rocky Mountain National Park and left park employees to contend with 1- to 5-foot snowdrifts on Trail Ridge Road, also known as U.S. 34. According to park officials, overnight temperatures in the park dipped into the 20s over the weekend.

“On Sunday, park snowplow operators were able to plow to Lava Cliffs,” stated Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for the Park. “Due to conditions, they had to plow their way back down to Forest Canyon.”

The weekend closure of Trail Ridge Road — which remained in effect as of noon on Tuesday — came less than one month after park officials opened Trail Ridge Road for the summer on June 5. The high alpine road — the highest paved, continuous road in the U.S. — historically opens for the summer season on Memorial Day weekend.

A contingent of snowplows push through the deep drifting snow in Rocky Mountain National Park over the weekend while working to clear Trail Ridge Road.
Courtesy photo

In 2018, when Colorado experienced a tepid winter with relatively mild snowfall, Trail Ridge Road opened for the summer on May 24. The earliest date the road has opened was in 2002 when park officials opened the road on May 7. The latest Trail Ridge Road has opened for the summer occurred in 1943 when the road opened on June 26. Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the 2018-19 winter season on Oct. 31 last fall.


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