I just came across this four-year-old video by Justin Calkins, an Estes Park, Colo., photographer. If you’re a frustrated tourist who didn’t get to drive Trail Ridge Road because it was closed — this shows why. Would you really want to be caught up there in this? And this was on October 13, relatively early in the season. I’m not sure why Calkins was up as high as Rainbow Curve in weather like this, but locals have the advantage of dashing up and down the road on very short notice.
The text at the beginning says Rainbow Curve is at 10,000 feet; the park service actually lists it as 10,829 ft. (Note the sign on the way down says 10,500 ft.) Going on down, the next stop or viewing area is Many Parks Curve at 9,640 ft. The road, when closed, is usually closed there. Below, the town of Estes Park (downtown) is at 7,522 ft.
Calkins notes the road was closed behind him as he exited. I think the car seen going up is a park service car, probably checking to make sure no one else is on the road before closing it at Many Parks Curve.
In September 2011, in notably better weather, I shot the following from Rainbow Curve and published it in “Fall in Colorado: Always colorful, one way or another.” It’s the view Calkins couldn’t see during his October drive.