Trail Ridge Road, a designated All-American Byway in Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of Colorado’s most spectacular highways. The 45-mile route, following U.S. Highway 34, runs through a swathe of wild mountains between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in the United States, crosses Trail Ridge, following an ancient path used by Indians for the last 12,000 years. The road climbs almost 5,000 vertical feet from Estes Park to its high point and traverses through three life zones, including the fragile grass tundra above timberline. The scenic highway switchbacks up forested slopes, follows the Colorado River, and passes herds of bighorn sheep, elk, and deer. Besides sightseeing, Trail Ridge Road offers camping, hiking, scenic views, overlooks, fishing, photo ops, and wildflowers.
Recommended season(s): May through October. Snow closes the road through winter and spring.
—Stewart M. Green