Bear Lake Road Phase II Reconstruction Planning

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Date: August 2, 2011
Contact: Kyle Patterson, (970) 586-1363

Rocky Mountain National Park Superintendent Vaughn Baker announced today that funding has been secured for the second phase of the Bear Lake Road reconstruction. The work would take place from the Park & Ride – Glacier Basin Campground intersection to the junction with Trail Ridge Road, 5.1miles, if funding allows. It could begin as early as this late fall or early winter.The work would be similar in scope and impacts as the first phase of Bear Lake Road which was completed in 2004 and took place on the upper 4.3 mile section of road. This major project would involve significant retaining wall work in order to accommodate much-needed safety and drainage improvements. In addition on this phase, a 0.9 mile section will be rerouted away from Glacier Creek in order to prevent impacts to wetlands and riparian habitat and minimize costs.

According to Superintendent Baker, “We recognize that work in the narrow road corridor will be difficult and have been cooperating closely with the Federal Highway Administration to structure the contract to minimize disruptions to visitors during the busy summer season.” Among the options that may be considered are:

  • Night road closures from mid-October to before the Memorial Day weekend, seven days a week, from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Bear Lake Road above the Big Thompson River bridge
  • In addition to night closures, during winter and early spring months, full day road closures above Big Thompson River bridge on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (no road access to Bear Lake on those three weekdays during the winter and early spring)
  • Closure of Glacier Basin Campground during 2012, to allow safe contractor staging, to minimize traffic conflicts and to allow night work on the road
  • Summer night closures of the road above the Big Thompson River bridge from 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. including weekends
  • Allow work seven days a week except that the road would be fully open during holiday weekendsDelays of up to 40 minutes should be expected when the road is open to vehicles

Bear Lake Road was completed in 1928 and until 2003, no significant improvements were made for 75 years. The project will improve the road surface and widen the road two feet to accommodate park shuttle buses.The project also will correct structural deficiencies in the roadway. The road is normally open year-round, so the wider road will help make snow removal operations safer.

This major project will be a challenge and details of visitor access on Bear Lake Road during the work are still being determined and will be announced at a later date. Theability to accomplish as much work as possible during the slower off-season months may help lessen disruptions during the peak season. When this project is complete, it will conclude over 47 miles of critical improvements on Bear Lake Road and Trail Ridge Road since 2003. 

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Last updated: February 24, 2015

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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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