The following was published on May 5, 2003.
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will open Tuesday, May 7, 2002, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., weather permitting. Road conditions will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. The Alpine Visitor Center, located along Trail Ridge Road, will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians due to heavy snow removal equipment working in the parking area. Restrooms will be open at Rock Cut and Milner Pass.
This is the earliest day that Trail Ridge Road has opened since the road was completed in 1932. The earliest day prior to this year was May 11, 1963. Trail Ridge Road historically opens on Memorial Day weekend; in 2001 the road opened on May 25. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, climbing to 12,183 feet and connecting the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) installs, operates, and maintains an extensive automated system to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States called SNOTEL (for Snowpack Telemetry). Two SNOTEL sites located close to Trail Ridge Road to the west and east of the Continental Divide show snowpack to be 40% and 30% of average, respectively.