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Rocky Mountain National Park boasts the very best of what Colorado and the Rocky Mountains has to offer: unbelievably scenic mountains, awesome hiking and superb wildlife viewing.
But perhaps the most memorable aspect of the Park is that it was created with the driving visitor in mind.
Nowhere else in the country can you drive a scenic route that brings you above the treeline and into the alpine tundra for 11 miles, peaking at altitudes over 12,000 feet. There are many scenic viewpoints including Rainbow Curve Outlook and Mushroom Rocks overlooks along the driving route, and easy, accessible trails at Sprague and Bear Lakes.
Or you may want to follow the historic route that the earliest visitors drove in their Stanley Steamers or Model T’s on the Old Fall River Road.
Hear all about the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park” and the other influential characters who fought and invested heavily to preserve this area.
But many visitors are drawn by the excellent wildlife watching opportunities. Especially during the Fall rut when male bull elk and moose are fending off rivals vocally and physically. We’ll point out the best locations to keep watch and increase your chances.
This is a truly unique experience that has thrilled drivers and passengers since the 1920s.
Estes Park or Grand Lake
You can drive the Trail Ridge Road return between Estes Park and Grand Lake in single day, with plenty of time for stops. Add extra days for Old Fall River Road, wildlife watching and hikes
Between Estes Park and Grand Lake, driving on the Trail Ridge Road is 49 miles (78 km) one way and takes about 2 hours, plus time for stopping at our recommended viewpoints and places of interest. Otehr short drives in the Park include Bear Lake and the Old Fall River Road.
Yes, the road is unpaved but well maintained so it is suitable for regular passenger vehicles. The road is one-way – uphill – so you will drive to the top at the Alpine Visitor Center, and then drive down using Trail Ridge Road.
The Old Fall River Road usually opens by 1 July.
Absolutely, and this is recommended. The section from the Alpine Visitor Center to Grand Lake and back adds about 2 hours driving time, but increases your chances of seeing wildlife – especially moose.