Many Curves Overlook is a spectacular viewpoint on Trail Ridge Road’s second switchback above the junction of U.S. 34 and U.S. 36 on the eastern slope of Rocky Mountain National Park. The 9,620-foot overlook sits on a high wooded ridge above several open parks including Horseshoe Park, Little Horseshoe Park, Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, and Estes Park east of the national park boundary. Horseshoe Park to the north is one of Rocky Mountain’s famed natural areas. This open grassland was once the floor of a great valley glacier. Its terminal moraine dammed the valley, which filled in with sediment. Moraine Park to the south is a large open valley with Moraine Park Campground on its northern edge. Both parks fill with wildlife, including mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep, Colorado’s state mammal.
- The overlook is 6.8 miles from the Beaver Meadows entrance. A large parking area is on the right at the top of the switchback above the overlook for uphill traffic, while a smaller parking area at the overlook is for downhill traffic. A short paved trail leads from the upper lot to the overlook. Don’t use the parking lot at the overlook if you’re driving up Trail Ridge Road—it’s a dangerous blind corner. Poles in the center of the road keep cars from turning into the lot.
- Horseshoe Park is a great place to visit. Enter the park at the Fall River entrance on U.S. 36 and drive west through the open park. Sheep Lakes and West Horseshoe Park overlooks give good views of the area. Pull offs at Horseshoe Park are good stops to glimpse wildlife; don’t stop on the road. Morning and evening are the best times for watching the wildlife. Elk are usually seen during the autumn rut, with bugling bull elk battling for herd dominance. Bighorn sheep are also seen, often at natural salt licks. Remember that these are wild animals. Do not approach or pester them for photos.
- The nine-mile Fall River Road, beginning at the west end of Horseshoe Park, is a rougher alternative drive to the top of Trail Ridge. The narrow one-way dirt road climbs up a steep valley, passing Chasm Falls, to Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green