Although Rocky Mountain National Park is generally considered the domain of hikers and climbers, it's easy to enjoy this park without working up a sweat. For that we can thank Trail Ridge Road, built in 1932 and undoubtedly one of America's most scenic highways. This remarkable 48-mile road rises to over 12,000 feet in elevation and crosses the Continental Divide. Along the way it offers spectacular vistas of snowcapped peaks, deep forests, and meadows of wildflowers full of browsing bighorn sheep, elk, and deer. Allow at least 3 hours for the drive, and consider a short walk or hike from one of the many vista points.

To get a close-up look at the tundra, pull off Trail Ridge Road into the Rock Cut Parking Area (elev. 12,110 ft.), about halfway along the scenic drive. You'll have splendid views of glacially carved peaks along the Continental Divide, and on the .5-mile Tundra Nature Trail you'll find signs identifying and discussing the hardy plants and animals that inhabit this region.

Trail Ridge Road is left unplowed and closed by winter snows. In recent years, it has usually been clear by late May and closed sometime in October, depending how fast winter comes. But even well into June and again in September and through early October, the road can be closed for snow for hours or even days at a time.

advertisement

There are two other roads within the park. Old Fall River Road, 9 miles long and unpaved, is one-way uphill only (you'll return on Trail Ridge Rd.). It's usually open from July 4 through mid-October. Bear Lake Road, the access road to Bear Lake, is open year-round.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.