With luck, Trail Ridge Road will open May 22

Rainbow Curve sunrise May 12, 2015
Sunrise May 12 at Rainbow Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park. Copyright 2015 Erik Stensland. Used with permission

The National Park Service reports that Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is expected to open for the season on May 22 — weather permitting. That last part is a given in the mountains, but it’s always worth repeating for newcomers. The Estes Park Trail-Gazette reports that the road is already open as far up as Rainbow Curve, about 12 miles into the park. It’s a particularly great overlook (my favorite) and the perfect destination/turnaround point for those wanting to experience the road but not go all the way to the Alpine Visitor Center. Many’s the time I’ve grabbed a drive-thru lunch in Estes and taken it up to Rainbow to enjoy. And it was the usual destination for my joy rides when I was staying in Estes and had a sudden urge for a little altitude. (If ever a drive typified “joy ride,” this is it.) I confess, though, that I was never up early enough to see a sunrise like this, captured two days ago by Erik Stensland. The early bird gets the great photos. (I know, I know, I sound like a Stensland shill, but hey, it’s not my fault he takes all the best pictures of the places I love.) My photos from the same overlook are typically taken in the afternoon.

For current road conditions in the park, see the National Park Service’s Road Status Report.

4 thoughts on “With luck, Trail Ridge Road will open May 22

  1. Hi PT– After the nice, heavy, spring snows, sorta unexpected to have an early open date, isn’t it? You really deserve a run up to the gates if you get a clear morning! On the 22nd, will watch from roughly 22000 to 34000 or so feet to see if any vehicles are up high. I leave DEN about noon headed west & sure hope the departure route is through that corridor. Erik’s sunrise photos in RMNP can be habit-forming 😎

    1. In another life, I’d have been like Erik, living in Estes, close to my favorite places, able to catch all those great sunrises and sunsets.

      I keep thinking about making a run up there, but so far the weather’s not cooperating. Really hard to believe they’ll be opening on the 22nd instead of plowing, considering all the snow up there lately. My brother and I swore last fall that we’d go up again the day after opening day, but with my surgery on the 20th, I don’t see it happening. Don’t know how soon after that I’ll feel up to it.

      It should be spectacular from the air with all the snow up there lately. You might see a bunch of cars because the press always follows the plow up on opening day.

  2. Hi PT– it seems the mountain wants to wait on you– the NPS and Trail-Gazette say opening is postponed due to weather… one photo looking on from Rock Cut shows nothing but white again. But ultimately, that is great additional water for everyone except the stressed out folks in the floodplains below? Feel better fast so the road can open 😎

    1. Well, I’m sorry to hear about the delay, for all those folks who hoped to get up there this weekend. But not at all surprised. Lots of snow up there in the last week. The mountain will do what the mountain will do. And it will still be there when I’m ready to go. That constancy has always been its appeal for me.

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