Tough job but a great view

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.

‘Bout time those food trucks showed up.
Alpine Visitor Center May 2015
Getting to the Visitor Center is only half the battle.
Trail Ridge Road, job well done
The job certainly has its rewards.


7 thoughts on “Tough job but a great view

    1. Love those guys. One of them actually did get into my pack one day up on Twin Sisters. Absolutely no fear. I was eating and he figured there must be some trail mix in there for him, too.

  1. Hi PT–
    Pretty good when a viewer can tell the person who took the video you used was either at or just west of the high point on TR Rd, but that only shows familiarity with that particular area. What stood out to me, showing you truly are a Coloradoan, was in your second paragraph, when you wrote (paraphrasing) that now all the crews have to do is clear out the visitor center! Plows, rotary blowers, graders, and so forth will all be involved clearing the parking lot, but everything close to the structures will require hand shoveling… don’t even want to try to figure out the potential word problems: (three teams of four park rangers began hand shoveling snow at a rate (x) that cleared a cubic yard of snow every y minutes, how long would it take them to clear all the snow from the buildings and viewing wall/deck area?)
    And hey, it is your blog, is it not??
    (disclaimer: this fan of rmnp is second only to Pied Type in the attention given all things related to said location) 😇

    1. I posted a photo last year of some of the hand shoveling that’s necessary to clear the snow around the buildings, and I can think of at least three buildings/structures up there. All have to be cleared and ready for visitors before the road opens.

      How’d you like to do all that shoveling and then have it snow again?

      By the way, you get most of the credit for this. If you hadn’t told me the video had been posted, I probably would have missed it.

  2. Reminded me of days long ago on the staff of the Boise National Forest. When flatlanders asked when we could guarantee high-elevation campgrounds would be open, and we said, “Around the Fourth of July,” there was amazement and disbelief.

    1. LOL. I’ve been snowed on on the Fourth of July up on Trail Ridge. And a few years ago, one of our Colo. ski areas stayed open until the Fourth. Those flatlanders are the main reason they sell so many sweatshirts and jackets up at the Visitor Center.

      It’s always fun to eavesdrop on the folks who’ve never been up there before. Wish there were a way to spread that awe and excitement to more people.

... and that's my two cents