Trail Ridge Road

#1 in Best Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail Ridge Road picture
Carolyn Hebbard/Getty Images

Key Info

Highway 34

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Sightseeing, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.9scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Horace Albright, director of the National Park Service between 1929 and 1933, once said about Trail Ridge Road, "It's hard to describe what a sensation this new road is going to make. You will have the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions." Trail Ridge Road was a sensation when it debuted back in 1932 and it remains so today for the travelers that make the 48-mile drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake, rising above the tree line for 11 miles at an elevation of nearly 11,500 feet. Visitors should keep that in mind when they're stopping at the lookout points that the road experiences temperatures that are 20 and even 30 degrees lower than both Estes Park and Grand Park. 

Most travelers call Trail Ridge Road a must-do while in Rocky Mountain National Park. One recent traveler, who said she spent a full day taking in the "stunning views" along Trail Ridge Road, saw elk, marmots and moose. Stopping at the pull-offs yields some spectacular photo ops, and some offer restrooms. 

The road, which is free to access with park admission, is open from late May to mid-October; the rest of the year, it is buried under snow. You can access Trail Ridge Road – also known as Highway 34 – via the east side of Estes Park. For more information, visit the National Park Service's website

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More Best Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center1 of 6
Downtown Estes Park 2 of 6
Type
Time to Spend
#2 Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

To get an educational overview of the park, it's wise to stop in at one of RMNP's visitor centers, such as Beaver Meadows. According to recent visitors, the park rangers are extremely helpful and knowledgeable and can help you decide which trails to take, depending on your time and skill level. Along with books and maps, you can also purchase (or rent) equipment like walking sticks or cleats.  

Recent travelers said a stop at Beaver Meadows (located near the park's main entrance along Highway 36) is a must, reporting that the friendly, helpful rangers gave valuable tips about how to get the most out of an RMNP vacation, including what roads and trails might be closed. 

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Rich Crowder/Getty Images
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