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Geology of Trail Ridge Road

  • 500 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
  • Phone: (970) 586-3262
  • Presented By: Rocky Mountain Conservancy
  • Dates: July 10, 2024
  • Location: Meet at Estes Park Visitor Center
  • Address: 500 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
  • Phone: (970) 586-3262
  • Time: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Price: $200
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The foundation of Rocky Mountain National Park's awe-inspiring scenery is its bedrock! Join us to learn about how geology shapes Rocky!

Participants in this full-day course will travel up the famous Trail Ridge Road, from the Fall River entrance to Farview Curve, stopping at popular overlooks to view and discuss the geology of Rocky Mountain National Park. You will have a chance to examine ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks over a billion years in age and learn how scientists determine geologic age. We will stop at a valley filled with volcanic ash and later view its source in the now-vanished volcanoes of the Never Summer Range. Finally, we will observe the rugged landscape carved by glaciers and stand beside glacial moraines deposited tens of thousands of years ago while we discuss glacial processes and the causes of ice ages.

We will meet at the Estes Park Visitor Center and travel together to various sites in Rocky Mountain National Park using Conservancy vehicles. Registration includes all required fees and permits for Rocky Mountain National Park. Bring your own lunch, water, and appropriate clothing for a full day outdoors. Short walks near the road are easy but remember we are at high altitude.

Who: Participants ages 16 and up. Expect short-distance walks throughout the day, primarily on level terrain.

Where: Depart from and return to the Estes Park Visitor Center in downtown Estes Park and travel together up Trail Ridge Road into Rocky Mountain National Park.

What to bring: 10 Essentials for Field Courses and a sack lunch. Camera, hand lens, and binoculars optional but nice to have.

About your instructor: David Lindsey (retired, US Geological Survey) has a BS (Nebraska) and PhD (Johns Hopkins) in geology. He has conducted geologic mapping and research throughout the American West. His principal research interests are deposits of ancient glaciers and streams, the structure of mountains, volcanic eruptive centers, and mineral deposits. He has led classes on the Geology of Trail Ridge Road since 2006.

Conservancy members get 15% off individual registration when you use the discount code in your membership email! Limit 2 per membership.

Not a member of the Conservancy? Learn more and join here: Conservancy Membership

If you have questions about this course, please contact the Field Institute by email at or by phone at 970-586-3262.