The Blessing of Snow

The following fun fact was published March 3, 2003.

This week has seen several snowfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. While this does not signal an end to the drought in Colorado, it certainly will help to improve the situation. It means park plants and animals are experiencing more normal conditions. Reports from park SnowTel sites (operated by Natural Resources Conservation Service) as of February 27, 2003, say the amount of water stored in the snowpack on the east side of the park is 98% of average, and that on the west side is 104% of average.

The park has five SnowTel sites reporting data. They are Willow Park, Bear Lake, and Copeland Lake in the South Platte River drainage (east side of the park), and Lake Irene and Phantom Valley in the Colorado River drainage (west side of the park). A sixth site at Ouzel Falls, on the east side of the park, is currently under construction. The west side of the park average reported here is the average of the two park west side SnowTel site values (Lake Irene and Phantom Valley) for Snow Water Equivalent (the amount of water in the snow) as compared to the average amount found from those same sites on the same day of the year averaged across all years from 1971 to 2000. The east side of the park average uses the Snow Water Equivalent values from Willow Park, Bear Lake, and Copeland Lake in the same kind of calculation.

All this snow activity has motivated the roads crew to start tuning up the snowplows for the annual effort to open Trail Ridge Road!

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


(970) 586-1206
Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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