Rocky Mountain National Park is connected from end to end by a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 known as Trail Ridge Road. This seasonal road spans from the park’s east entrance, across 48 miles of the park’s natural Rocky Mountain landscapes, to the park’s west entrance and into Grand Lake.
Much more than just a highway that connects east and west entrances to the park, Trail Ridge Road is an experience in itself. Billed as the park’s “highway to the sky,” Trail Ridge Road climbs some 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes and offers some of the park’s most spectacular sightseeing.
Constructed in 1932, the road was designed to intrude as little as possible into the natural mountain landscape, which affords visitors a unique way to experience the park from the comfort of their cars. Some of the park’s most thrilling views are seen right along Trail Ridge Road. Vast meadows of mountain wildflowers are brilliantly blooming during summer months. Bighorn sheep, elk, and other wildlife are also often spotted from the road.
Trail Ridge Road meanders through the park’s lush alpine forests, and eventually climbs above treeline to elevations over 12,000 feet! The road is peppered with pullover points that allow travelers to stop and enjoy expansive Rocky Mountain vistas, with views as far as Wyoming to the north, the Front Range and plains to east, and the heart of the Rockies to the west.
Indeed, Trail Ridge Road is a must-see for Rocky Mountain National Park visitors. It also conveniently connects the town of Grand Lake with the park. Grand Lake provides park visitors with plenty of lodging, dining, and other recreational opportunities, in addition to the scenic solitude the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is known for.
So if you’re planning a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, be sure to plan on driving Trail Ridge Road, and also be sure to spend some time in Grand Lake!