Monday we went on a fun adventure: Driving the highest continuous paved road in North America and going to the highest visitor center in the National Park system. It is fairly winding, there aren’t any guardrails, and the drop-offs can be steep. Our first day at Rocky Mountain National Park a car went off the road and didn’t stop for 500 feet. The driver walked out, and seeing where he went over I’d say he was VERY lucky!
There are 3 main roads in the park:
- Bear Lake Rd: Limited to 21-feet in length past the transit center, which mostly seems like a parking issue rather than a driving issue. We took the shuttle up this road.
- Trail Ridge Rd: This is the one we drove, there aren’t any height or length restrictions, but you should still drive it cautiously.
- Old Fall River Rd: Limited to 25-feet in length, it is steeper and curvier and gravel. We did not take that one and seeing it from the visitor center was very 😳😬
At one of the first lookouts that we approached on the Trail Ridge Rd there’s a crosswalk that goes from a parking lot to the lookout. We stopped to let a family cross, there was a car behind us, and apparently a motorcycle close behind them. When we stopped he fell, in the middle of a blind corner. Thankfully pedestrians at the lookout jumped in to help, some stopping traffic and others going to help the moto get upright again. He wasn’t in danger of going over the edge there, but it still could have been a bad situation. We had no idea what happened until we parked, got out, saw him getting upright again, and asked the family we’d stopped to let cross what had happened.
At the Alpine Visitor Center we took a small hike up and up and up the stairs to another lookout where we saw a yellow-bellied marmot, which looks a little like a beaver.
It was a beautiful drive and well worth the time, but definitely required a little extra attention!