While roads and trails in Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountain National Park suffered extensive damage from recent flooding, state officials have worked to keep many of the park’s scenic views and trails open to tourists. Flash floods and landslides damaged more than 200 miles of roads and 50 bridges in Colorado, including crucial roads leading into the park. As a result, park rangers had to close popular trails and sites. Since then, park officials and residents of Estes Park, a town near the park’s entrance, have labored tirelessly to get the town and the park back into operation in time for tourists to view the fall leaf season. To encourage more visitors, park officials have waived fees on weekends.
Shortly after the flooding, the state of Colorado quickly reopened a crucial highway leading into the western edge of the park, which allowed rangers to open nearby hiking trails. Other recent openings include Wild Basin area. Still, much of the east side of the park, including trails that give hikers access to the continental divide, remains closed.
Park officials plan to plow Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of more than 12,000 feet, and open it to visitors. However, backcountry travelers may still encounter missing footbridges, standing water on trails, difficult water crossings, and falling trees. Because of these conditions, park officials advise hikers to walk with hiking poles and be prepared to stay overnight if they encounter unexpected difficulties on the trails.
While routes 36 and 34, the park’s two main entrances, may not open until the end of 2013, highways 7 and 72 still offer some of the best views of colorful fall foliage. In addition, nearby Boulder, which also saw some flooding damage, has several open hiking trails, including paths in Mount Sanitas and Sunshine canyon.