Trail Ridge Road, a highway to the sky in Rocky Mountain National Park is the most scenic, highest, and continuous two laned paved road in the United States. The Trail Ridge Road is actually a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 and the road covers 48 miles between Estes Park on the east side and Grand Lake on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The road winds and climbs up about 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes. It crosses the Continental Divide and reaches the high point at 12,183 feet elevation where evergreen forests come to a halt. Depending on weather conditions, Trail Ridge Road is generally open from late May through October. This fascinating drive takes you to a variety of habitats through woodlands of aspen/pines to thick subalpine forests of fir and spruce, and from lowland mountain meadows to alpine tundra. The drive on Trail Ridge Road offers phenomenal views of mountain range, amazing wildlife sightings, and spectacular seasonal alpine wildflower. The drive on Trail Ridge is so thrilling and is definitely a memorable experience.
Along the way there are numerous overlooks. It takes anywhere between 1 ½ hours to 4 hours to drive on Trail Ridge Road depending on traffic and stops at overlooks. Drive slowly and follow the traffic. Stop at every overlook, don’t rush, take a stroll to overlooks, relax, and enjoy the remarkable views. If you experience high altitude sickness, slow down, sit for a while, drink plenty of water, and take your own time.
These photos are from our drive on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park in late September 2019. Drive through Trail Ridge Road in summer is more beautiful and pretty as the landscapes welcome with more green lands with a blanket of colorful wildflowers, amazing wildlife, and stunning snow capped peaks in the backdrops.
Trail Ridge Road Attractions from Estes Park (east side) to Grand Lake (west side)
- Many Parks Curve Overlook: A hairpin turn at Trail Ridge road. The boardwalk across the road from the parking lot takes to the sweeping views of Longs Peak, the park’s only peak that rises above 14,000 feet, Deer Mountain, many towering peaks, and massive lowland meadows Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows
- Rainbow Curve Overlook: Features incredible views of Horseshoe Park, Deer Mountain, the Mummy Mountain range, and Alluvial Fan Falls
- Forest Canyon Overlook: A short stroll offers massive views of eastern edge of Forest Canyon and a deep U-shaped green valley
- Toll Memorial Trail (Tundra Communities Trailhead): The trail features beautiful seasonal wild flowers, alpine tundra meadows, Mushroom Rocks, viewpoints of Longs Peak, the Continental Divide, and wildlife sightings
- Lava Cliffs Overlook: Features a rare section of volcanic rock cliffs
- Gore Range Overlook: Offers views of the Never Summer Mountains and the Gore Range as it sits above the treeline in the alpine tundra
- Rock Cut: Feathers a beautiful projecting rock formation looking like big welcoming towers. The rock had to be cut in order to allow the Trail Ridge Road to pass through it
- Alpine visitor Center: Located at the top of the Trail Ridge Road at 11,796 feet above the sea level, and is a great place to relax. It features a 360 degree view of the remarkable alpine mountain peaks and alpine tundra. Restaurants, gift shops, and restrooms are available. You can hike the short, uphill, steep 0.6 mile Alpine Ridge Trail. The hike offers outstanding panoramic views of mountain peaks, beautiful alpine tundra scenery, and seasonal wildflowers
- Medicine Bow Curve Overlook: A hairpin turn on Trail Ridge Road. This is the right place to take panoramic views of the Medicine Bow Mountains, known as the Never Summer Mountains
- Farview Curve Overlook: Features spectacular views of an expansive Kawuneeche Valley and the Never Summer Range