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Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road

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Basics
Length:
48 miles (77 km)
Time:
Two hours to drive or a day to visit places along the way.
Fees:
Park entrance fees are required. Different fees apply per carload, pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist or commercial bus.

Description

Winding through the forests and mountains of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road encompasses over 50 miles of beautiful landscapes. Stop at the overlooks that line the Byway for magnificent yet different vistas of the Rocky Mountains, which tower at more than 14,000 feet. Take a short five-minute stroll at the Forest Canyon Overlook and marvel at the view of Forest Canyon, Hayden Gorge, and Gorge Lakes. Stand on the roof of the Rockies at Rock Cut. Pull over at Rainbow Curve, elevated over two miles above sea level, and see trees transformed by long, repeated exposure to the harsh winds, ice, and grit of this severe environment.

At Milner Pass, the Byway meets the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which crosses approximately 3,100 miles ranging from the Canada-Montana border to the Mexico-New Mexico border. At elevations over 8,000 feet, this trail offers spectacular views of the Rockies and the meadows that lie at their base. Spend a few hours or a few days exploring the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

Explore the abundance of adventure found year-round in Rocky Mountain National Park. During winter, snow blankets the forests and meadows, inviting you to snowshoe or cross-country ski. In warmer months, campers and fishers find serenity and solitude away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Over 350 miles of trails await hikers and backpackers of all skill levels. Wildlife-watchers also know the splendor of this protected area and its numerous opportunities to see rare animals and plants. Eagles and peregrine falcons reign in the skies; marmots and pikas scamper along the ground. Alpine tundra wildflowers bloom in brilliant shapes and shades. Camp out on balmy summer nights as the clear atmosphere of this alpine tundra magnifies the glittery night sky.

This region contains some of Colorado's finest scenery, framed by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. An adventurer's paradise, trees and trails thrive throughout the acres surrounding the Byway. Take a leisurely drive or pack for weekend campout; Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road Scenic Byway is sure to exceed your expectations.

Points of Interest Along The Way

Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest (CO)

The forests encompass 1.5 million acres and extends north to the Wyoming border, south of I-70 to Mount Evans, and west across the Continental divide to the Williams Fork area.

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CO)

The entire Continental Divide National Scenic Trail corridor is approximately 3,100 miles (4,988 kilometers) long, extending from the Canadian border in Montana to the border of Mexico in New Mexico.

Directions

The Trail can be accessed near Milner Pass on the Byway.

Deer Ridge Junction (CO)

With an elevation of 8,940 ft., this junction marks the eastern end of Trail Ridge Road. First opened in 1932, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States.

The Trail Ridge Road partly follows a route once used by Ute and Arapaho Indians as well as earlier prehistoric people.

Directions

This junction is located on the byway between the Fall River Entrance Station and the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.

Fairview Curve (CO)

The Arapaho Indians named this valley below the overlook 'Kawuneeche,' which means the valley of the coyote. The same Colorado River which flows through this beautiful valley later carves the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The river originates five miles to the north at La Poudre Pass and flows 1,400 miles through five states before it empties into the Gulf of California.

Directions

This overlook is located near the western edge of the park near Milner Pass.

Fall River Pass and Alpine Visitor Center (CO)

Besides the visitor center, there is a gift shop and a short trail to an overlook at 12,003 feet.

Directions

This site is located on the byway between the Lava Cliffs Overlook and Medicine Bow Curve.

Forest Canyon Overlook (CO)

Here, the erosive force of glacial ice is unmistakable. Although the ice did not reach as high as the overlook, it still lay more than 1,500 feet thick in a V-shaped stream valley. With the grinding of a giant rasp, the ice scoured the valley into the distinctive U-shape of today.

Directions

This overlook is located about six miles west of the Fall River Entrance Station between the Rock Cut Overlook and the Rainbow Curve Overlook.

Many Parks Curve (CO)

Prominent in the fine panoramic view are several 'parks,' or mountain enclosed meadows. The long forested ridges separating these parks are moraines. These are great heaps of rock debris that glaciers pushed or deposited along their sides between 150,000 and 12,000 years ago. To the west of this viewpoint lie the headwalls where these glaciers originated and began their journey to the valley floor.

Directions

This overlook is located on the byway near the eastern border to the park.

Milner Pass (CO)

Here, Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide. At this point, waters enter either the Atlantic or Pacific drainages. The Rockies divide these two great watersheds, but the Continental Divide may be a mountaintop, a ridge or a pass.

From this point also, a short trail leads past Poudre Lake,headwaters of the Cache La Poudre River, and up to Old Fall River Road. This road was the original road over the Continental Divide.The trail then connects to with another trail leading to Mt. Ida,1,288 ft. This is a 4.5 mile hike.

Directions

Milner Pass is located on the byway near Fairview Curve.

Rainbow Curve (CO)

At 10,829 ft., this overlook is more than two vertical miles above sea-level. At this elevation, every exposed tree is blasted by wind, ice and grit into distinctive flag shapes. Tree branches here survive only on the downwind side of tree trunks. Higher still, trees survive only where the severely-pruned 'shrubs' are covered and protected by winter snowdrifts.

Directions

This overlook is located between the Many Parks Curve overlook and the Forest Canyon overlook.

Rock Cut Overlook (CO)

Here on the roof of the Rockies, the climate is rigorous. Severe weather can come at any time. Periods of drought may occur both summer and winter, and winter blizzards are frequent. Temperatures remain below freezing all winter, and they frequently drop below freezing in summer.Wind speeds here can exceed 150 miles per hour in either summer or winter and ultraviolet radiation is twice what it is at sea level. Sunlight is 50 percent more intense.

Directions

This overlook is located between the Lava Cliffs Overlook and the Forest Canyon Overlook.

Length:
48 miles (77 km)
Time:
Two hours to drive or a day to visit places along the way.
Main Roads:
US-34 W
Fees:
Park entrance fees are required. Different fees apply per carload, pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist or commercial bus.
Customizable Directions

Formatted DirectionsMap

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