The pass is crossed by U.S. Highway 34 between Grand Lake and Estes Park.
Alpine Visitor Center is located on Fall River Pass at the intersection of Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road. Trail Ridge Road is closed during the winter and usually stays closed until late spring or early summer. (See Partner Passes: Iceberg Pass, Milner Pass and Trail Ridge High Point)
Complete Milner Pass, Fall River Pass, Iceberg Pass and Trail Ridge High Point along this route.
Begin at Kawuneeche Visitor Center (Rocky Mountain National Park West entrance) near Grand Lake
Ride Trail Ridge Road to Milner Pass--mile 16.5
Continue to Alpine Visitor Center for Fall River Pass--mile 21
Fall River to Trail Ridge Road Summit/Trail Ridge High Point--mile 23
Trail Ridge High Point to Iceberg Pass--mile 24
Finish at Beaver Meadows Visitors Center--mile 42.5
Being above tree line, the pass can be windy, and 20-30 degrees colder than Estes Park or Grand Lake. The actual summit is not on the road. There is a one-way dirt road to cross over the summit. As you ride, keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep, elk, pikas, marmots, ptarmigans as well as 200 species of tiny alpine plants!
Estes Park, 22 miles to the east
Grand Lake, 25 miles to the south
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in the United States. Known appropriately as the “Highway to the Sky”.
The name “Trail Ridge Road” is derived from its proximity to historic pathways used by native peoples to cross the Rocky Mountains. Arapahoe Indians called the trail located on the ridge as “taienbaa” (“Where the Children Walked”) because it was so steep that children could not be carried and had to walk.
Trail Ridge Road was designed to replace Fall River Road, which was inadequate for modern motor travel as soon as it opened in 1920. Trail Ridge Road made motor travel easier with gentle grades, broader curves, and a greater variety of scenic experiences. The sunny, exposed location reduces snow accumulations and allows Trail Ridge Road to open earlier then its shady predecessor.
Trail Ridge Road was constructed between 1926 and 1932 through the collective efforts of the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public roads (now the Federal Highway Administration). Construction Crews had to contend with imposing terrain, harsh weather, short working seasons and stringent design criteria. The new route was to ensure that the road would “lie lightly on the land”, displaying the areas scenic diversity and have minimal impact on the natural environment. Trail Ridge Road opened in July 1932, providing motorists with access to impressive, views, memorable wildlife viewing opportunities and spectacular high mountain terrain.