I know I’m in a rut with Trail Ridge Road, but I keep thinking about the hoped-for opening on the 22nd and all the activities up there this week. At this point I’m not betting on the 22nd. It’s raining in Estes Park right now, which means it’s snowing higher up. And on Niwot Ridge (elev. 11,600 ft), approximately 20 miles to the south, it’s snowing (at 3:30 pm).
The plows start working in mid-April, one crew heading in from the east end, the other from the west, and they meet in the middle (more or less) at the Alpine Visitor Center (elev. 11,796 ft). That happened two days ago. Now all the crews have to do is clear away all the snow around the buildings. Judging from the photo below, they still have a lot of work to do.
The plow pictures are pretty much the same from one year to the next, but this year someone included a picture of two very interested spectators — yellow-bellied marmots. Those chubby little guys (approx. 5 to 10 lbs) are everywhere in the high country and they love mooching snacks from hikers. They’re brazen, too. If you sit very long with your pack lying open, say, at a lunch break, you’re likely to find one of them in your bag looking for food.
In any case, I tip my hat to all the folks who work so hard every May to get this road open for the thousands of us who can’t wait to get up there.
More photos on Rocky Mountain National Park’s Facebook page.
For current road conditions in the park, see the National Park Service’s Road Status Report.