Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ridin the Rocky Mountain National Park

Weekend in the Park.
I headed up to the RMNP last weekend to catch the opening day of trail ridge road. The side country skiing in this area is usually darn good this time of year. In " side country" one can shuttle up the mountain in vehicles and save the legs for slashing the descent. There are plenty of tourist site seeing to catch a ride with, back up the trail ridge road. Beware when hitch hiking up the pass. Elk sightings can cause major delays in some vehicles. Often these people slam on their brakes in blind turns to snap a few pictures of the local wilds. Accidents up there as you can imagine are a shit bucket. If you do encounter one of these vehicles during your free ride up, flee at all possible cost.
Pass hitch hike tip.
Look for ski racks and pickup trucks. These people usually know the drill.
The road was open for an hour, before snow and poor visibility forced Park Officials to re-close the pass. Considering the amount of out of state drivers probably not a bad idea... so we skinned it and had a blast!

Pictures of this morning's ribbon-cutting to open the road show heavy clouds and generally lousy weather.

Rocky's Trail Ridge Road now open -- and may close again
By Coloradoan staff
Officials at Rocky Mountain National Park are considering whether to temporarily close Trail Ridge Road, which officially opened at about 11:30 a.m. this morning.
"...with the current weather patterns it is likely, as with most spring and fall seasons, that the road will temporarily close off and on and that visitors should plan accordingly," said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.
Trail Ridge Road historically opens on Memorial Day weekend; last year the road opened on May 25. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943, according to the Park Service.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, climbing to 12,183 feet and connecting the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season last year on October 22.
National Park Service plow operators normally begin clearing the snow in April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet at the Alpine Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is the highest in the National Park Service, sitting at 11,796 feet above sea level.
Spring storms often impact plowing activities. Plow operators can encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet. Because weather conditions may change rapidly, park visitors should be prepared to adjust travel plans accordingly and are encouraged to contact the park information office at (970) 586-1206 or check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/romo to receive current road conditions.