Plowing isn't normally big news or cause for celebration--unless the plow is clearing Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road. This year (2022) Rocky Mountain National Park hopes to open Trail Ridge Road fully on Friday, May 28 - weather-permitting, of course.


Trail Ridge Road connects Estes Park to Grand Lake, and is the highest continuously paved road in North America. This scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for its breathtaking views, wildlife spottings, and great history.

Plowing Trail Ridge Road above treeline
The opening of Trail Ridge Road often marks the beginning of summer in Estes Park. It means we should be done with snow, and can look forward to the glorious sunny days in the Rocky Mountains at least at the elevation of town – the Alpine Visitor Center isn’t quite done yet. Read more from the National Park below. Check its status here.

Snowplow at Rock Cut in April

Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States - reaching 12,183 feet in elevation. 

Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. Park plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet and are accustomed to plowing the same section of road over and over. Trail Ridge Road was completed in 1932.  The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. In 2011, the road opened on June 6.  

Truck dwarfed by snowbanks on trail ridge road