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Trail Ridge Road opens, timed entry permits required

Park snowplow operations May 18 2021compressed Courtesy Rocky Mountain National Park.jpg
Posted at 10:21 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-29 00:21:33-04

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — Trail Ridge Road fully opened for the season Friday, but a temporary timed entry permit reservation system is in place to enter the park.

Park officials said visitors should prepare for icy conditions due to melting snow and the potential for freezing temperatures.

The road, which is the highest continuous paved road in the U.S., partially opened Wednesday to Milner Pass.

There are two types of reservations available: a permit for Bear Lake Road corridor from 5 a.m. - 6 p.m., which includes the entire corridor and access to the rest of the park, and a second permit excludes the Bear Lake Road corridor but allows access to the rest of the park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will have two hour windows of availability to enter the park.

The reservation system, which officials announced in March, began Friday as the park staff manages significant increases in visitation to public lands in Colorado, including Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s also as a result of continued COVID-19 concerns, ongoing housing challenges with park seasonal staff and residual wildfire impacts in some areas of the park.

A timed entry system was first put into place in May, 2020 due to the pandemic at the advice of public health officials to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. They briefly discontinued the system earlier this year.

Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store are scheduled to open May 29.

National Park Service plow operators began clearing snow from Trail Ridge Road in the middle of April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet at the Alpine Visitor Center.

This year, crews ran into average or above average snowpack on the east side of the Continental Divide and lower than average snowpack on the west side of the Continental Divide.