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Trail Ridge Road and the weather

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Trail Ridge Road and the weather


We are coming to Estes Park on May 11 and staying for a week. Is there any chance of TRR being opened during our stay, before Memorial Day that is? I am aware of your latest snow storm, but the temperatures seem to rise towards our week there...

If the road stays closed, is it worth driving the part that remains open throughout the year (if I have understood correctly there is such a part)?

How about the trails - (we will be sticking to the less challenging ones because we have an 18-year-old to carry in a carrier) will most of them still be covered in snow or are they just muddy? Would you survive in wellies / sneakers? (don't have hiking boots here and don't want to buy ones as we will be moving back to Europe soon...)

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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1. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

Weather can vary so very dramatically from day to day in the mountains and no two years are ever the same. I can say with almost 100% certainty that Trail Ridge Road will not be entirely open as a through road between Estes Park and Grand Lake during your visit. Provided there are no large snowfalls between now and the time of your visit, they can probably have it open as far as Rainbow Curve. It will be open at least as far as Many Parks Curve. Yes, it is very much worth driving all the open roads in RMNP.

I was in Estes Park/RMNP this past week during the 17 inch snowfall. Due to sun and wind exposure and being at lower elevations, some trails clear sooner in RMNP. However, with the large snowfall, there will most likely be ICE on some parts of even "all season" trails. You need to have traction devices (Yaktrax, Stabilicers) for your shoes especially if carrying an 18 month old in a hiking carrier. They rent microspikes for icy trails at Estes Park Mountain Shop. You can rent snowshoes at the Mountain Shop or Warming House. Rangers at the RMNP visitor centers can give you trail conditions and you can call the RMNP info office. 970-586-1206

All season trails that may be possible:

Gem Lake (beware of ice once you get past the boot and the trail goes behind the boulders)

Cub Lake/Fern Lake TH loop (on the Cub Lake side, ice may be present on the uphill section through the aspens and on the Fern Lake side once you get past the pool and head uphill through the aspens)

Sprague Lake (short .5 mile loop with some icy sections you can easily navigate)

Bear Lake and Bear to Dream (may be possible without snowshoes in the early am if trail is well packed snow, must have traction and as day warms you will posthole which is why you go early)

Lily Lake and Lily Ridge (should be ok even without traction)

Lily Mountain (may have ice upper section)

Deer Mountain (will probably still have ice upper section)

Bridal Veil Falls (muddy with ice around the falls possible)

Mill Creek Trail to the basin from Hollowell Park (may have some ice past the bridge)

Alluvial Fan (.2 miles paved to waterfall should be clear)

Side roads that remain closed in RMNP make good places to walk. Normally, these roads are open by mid-May but the late snows have delayed their opening so far.

Upper Beaver Meadows Road

Trail Ridge Road (unopened part as long as snowplows are not present)

Endovalley Road past the Alluvial Fan and Old Fall River Road (opens around July 4)

Wild Basin Road

To save me time and typing, I will copy some additional info from my other posts about things to do in and around Estes Park in May.

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2. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

TRR will likely only be open to Many Parks Curve - about 8 miles from the east entrance. And yes, driving the road is still worth it. Bear Lake Road should also be open. There are a couple of trails that may be snow free, and appropriate for sneakers. Lily Lake just south of Estes Park might be your best bet (rockymountainhikingtrails.com/lily-lake-loop…). Sprague Lake might be a possibility as well (rockymountainhikingtrails.com/sprague-lake.h…), depending on what happens with the weather this week. After a few days of sun, Cub Lake may be a possibility as well: rockymountainhikingtrails.com/cub-lake.htm

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3. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

Unfortunately for my feet, Lily Lake still had a decent amount of snow and mush on the south side when we took our impromtu stroll after lunch last week.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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4. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

Take this scenic route from Denver to Estes Park through Boulder Canyon and along part of Peak to Peak Scenic Byway.


In Boulder Canyon, Boulder Falls is .3 miles (delayed opening due to snow but maybe by May 11). Pearl Street Mall (pedestrian) in Boulder is nice. In Nederland, check out the Carousel of Happiness. http://www.carouselofhappiness.org/

Another great scenic drive from Estes

Estes Park down dramatic Big Thompson Canyon to the Dam Store. Turn around. Four miles back up the canyon stop at Viestenz Smith Mountain Park on your right. This lovely city park has great river views from the bridge and paved walkways plus lots of picnic tables and a small playground. At Drake turn right onto CR 43/Devil's Gulch Road through Glen Haven following this very pretty North Fork of the Big Thompson River. Past the switchbacks and Overlook Point, look for the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead sign on your right and drive to the trailhead to appreciate these giant rock formations and the balanced rocks which can be seen from the parking lot. CR 43 becomes MacGregor Avenue and returns to Estes Park.


Plz told you about the Stanley Hotel Tours on your ghost post. Children are only allowed for the ghost stories so in order to take one of the tours, someone will have to babysit.

Snowy Peaks Winery has a play area for kids while you enjoy the winery.

Carriage ride in Estes Park


The marina at Lake Estes will be open. Stanley Park playground is a favorite. Estes Park has an indoor heated pool visitors can use.


Cascade minigolf is open on weekends and Tiny Town minigolf is open year round.

If the weather is nice, you can rent bikes and a trailer/tag along from Estes Park Mountain Shop for the ride around Lake Estes or along Fish Creek Trail.

Even an 18 month old might get a kick out of catching a fish at Trout Haven.

The Riverwalk in Estes is a very pleasant stroll.

You can get day passes for $15 to the YMCA so check their program bulletin for the week you will be there.


Jackson Stables at the YMCA has pony rides. They convert to a summer schedule by mid-May so the hay rides may also be an option. 18 months is too young for horseback riding.


The Estes Park Museum has a hands on kid friendly section.


Here is the current happenings link from the cvb which covers your visit. It lists some of the RMNP ranger programs offered. Be sure to check with the rangers about others.


Take a day trip to Fort Collins. The Poudre River Trail and Spring Creek Trail are paved and would be a great place for a stroll. Spring Creek Gardens is kid friendly. Visit the Farm at Lee Martinez Park. The New Belgium Brewery Tour is #1 here on TA if it is not completely booked during your visit. Check online.



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5. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

Awesome tips, thank you all so much!

6. Re: Trail Ridge Road and the weather

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