Trail Ridge Road in Colorado

Estes Park Colorado
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> Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road

Driving on a road as high as Trail Ridge Road puts the landscape into a new perspective. Afterwards, you’ll have an appreciation for the Rockies and the surrounding wildlife.

  • This road is the highest continuous motorway in the United States 
  • Stop at the Alpine Visitor Center (11,796 feet) 
  • It’s about 48 miles round trip from Estes to the Alpine Visitor Center 
  • Plan for a 3 hour adventure 
  • Snow banks can be 25 feet high!

Why should I drive the Trail Ridge Road?

Colorado’s Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous motorway in the United States. More than 11 miles are above tree line, and the highest elevation point is 12,183 feet.

Take this drive to marvel at the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains. Witness and appreciate the aspen forests, alpine tundra, and wildflowers that make this spectacular landscape.

Weather permitting, the road is open Memorial Day-Oct.

Where does the Trail Ridge Road begin and end?

Trail Ridge Road begins at Deer Ridge Junction in Rocky Mountain National Park. Enter the Park at the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Continue on US 34, which turns into Trail Ridge Road.

The road goes all the way to Grand Lake, but a lot of people turn around at the Alpine Visitor Center, which is just past the highest point of the drive.

If you drive all the way to Grand Lake, you can return on US 34, or drive all the way around Rocky Mountain National Park.

How long does the Trail Ridge Road take to drive?

Estes Park to the Alpine Visitor Center is about 48 miles round trip.

This two-lane road is paved with no guardrails, and there’s a lot of traffic.

It should take you about 2 hours to drive. But, plan for a 3-hour trip. There are plenty of pull-offs where you will want to stop to enjoy the views.

At the top, the Alpine Visitor Center has a gift shop, cafeteria, bathrooms, and a visitor information desk.

What will I see along the way?

You will be amazed at the views of the Rocky Mountains. At the highest point in the road, you will be able to see mountain ranges that are hundreds of miles away.

Throughout the drive, you can spot elk, ptarmigan, bighorn sheep, marmots and other wildlife.

Once you are above tree line, one pull-off has lava cliffs! There will be a sign on your right.

Some parts of the road have walls of snow that survive all summer long. Snow banks can even be as high as 25 feet!