Mountain Driving

Trail Ridge Road ascending into the fog.
Trail Ridge Road

NPS photo by John Marino

Driving in the mountains provides many challenges. Steep roadways combined with less oxygen at higher altitudes can place additional demands on any vehicle. By following a few guidelines, you can help your car stay healthy at the park's higher altitudes:
  • Use lower gears while traveling downhill. You can slow down your car without wearing down the brakes. If you smell your brakes, pull over, let them cool off and test them before proceeding. Do not drive if the brakes are not working properly.
  • If the vehicle is losing power while traveling uphill, use a lower gear to help prevent power loss.
  • After stopping, let your car's engine run a minute before turning off the engine.
  • Do not use air conditioning. It contributes to power loss.
  • If the vehicle is losing power, has a rough-running engine or will not start, it may be experiencing vapor lock. If you suspect your vehicle has vapor lock, let it sit for 30 minutes. Loosen the gas cap and open the hood. If possible, remove the air filter. Try restarting the engine after 30 minutes.
  • If your engine dies, try to pull into a turnoff.
  • There are no service stations in the park. If you need towing or road service, notify the park by using an emergency phone or getting a message to a ranger station or visitor center. Towing and road service are available from Estes Park or Grand Lake.
  • Slower drivers should use the park's pullouts to let other vehicles pass.

Last updated: December 3, 2014

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


970 586-1206
The Information Office is open year-round: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily in summer; 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mondays - Fridays and 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Saturdays - Sundays in winter. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

Contact Us