Valhalla Resort

Trail Ridge Road Drive

Summer Only Activities in Colorado

An activity you canít pass up when staying in Estes Park is to drive on Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is the highest continually paved highway in the United States and spans 48 miles and connects the east side of the park (Estes Park) to the west side (Grand Lake). Visitors first drove on the road back in 1932 and its breathtaking views havenít changed much since then.

The road climbs more than 4,000 feet and has excellent pullouts and overlooks to enjoy the awe inspiring views visitors have delighted in for more than 80 years. Some of the popular ones include: Forest Canyon Overlook, Rainbow Curve, Lava Cliffs, and Many Parks Curve.

Its highest point is at 12,183 feet in elevation though there are 11 miles that ride above the tree line and offers stunning vistas and impressive views of the Rockies. The road is a designated Colorado Scenic Byway and you wonít just enjoy the mountainous views but the opportunity for wildlife spotting and the subalpine forests.

If you stop at one of the pullouts for a photo or just to stop and enjoy the view, be sure to dress warmly as it can be about 20 Ė 30 degrees cooler than down in Estes Park and windy! The road is open from late May to about mid-October, depending on how fast the snow can be plowed off the road or how late into the season it begins to snow.

Day trip to Grand Lake

Another excellent reason to explore Trail Ridge Road is to get to the western side of the park and visit Grand Lake. The Grand Lake area is a nice reprieve from the crowds on the eastern side of the park and can provide a quieter RMNP experience.

The western side of the park does see more rain than the side closest to Estes Park but that only means lush greenery and rushing mountain streams waiting for you when you arrive. In town, Grand Lake looks like a movie set for a classic Western with its rustic design and old-time storefronts. The friendly people help set the stage too. The lake itself is the deepest natural lake in the state of Colorado and draws families looking for water sports and boating adventures.

Whether you want to explore the town of Grand Lake or stay in the park and discover the hiking trails, such as Cascade Falls, the East Inlet Trail to Lake Verna, or the Colorado River Trail a little day trip to Grand Lake is easy and a unique way to see more of the park. On the western side, be sure to stop at Fairview Curve which is known for its elk population. Like on the Estes Park side, youíll find biking, horseback riding, and ATVing companies and plenty of family-friendly restaurants along the historic boardwalk in Grand Lake.

The drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake on Trail Ridge Road can take up a good amount of time, depending on how often you stop and traffic, and can be as quick as an hour and a half to more than four hours.

After you plan your drive on Trail Ridge Road make sure to check out the other summer activities you can partake in during your stay at Valhalla Resort.

2185 Eagle Cliff Rd | Estes Park, CO 80517

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