ESTES PARK, Colo. – Prepare for mayor delays and backups if you’re planning on going to Rocky Mountain National Park in the coming weeks.
Starting next Monday and going through Aug. 9, park officials will be closing two miles of Bear Lake Road at a time for repaving purposes. Pilot car operations will take place and wait times are expected to be up to 20 minutes in most areas due to only a single lane of traffic being open, Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a news release. Parking lots adjacent to the work passing area will be closed a day prior.
Major delays and backups are expected to happen Aug. 7 and 8, when the first two miles of Bear Lake Road are micro sealed, Patterson said, adding visitors are strongly encouraged to visit the Bear Lake Road area before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
“Due to the volume of vehicles, location of work, and potential queueing distance, it is likely visitors will not be able to access the Bear Lake Road from Trail Ridge Road in their vehicles from 9 am to 6 p.m. on those two days,” Patterson said.
If you’re coming from the east, you’re encouraged to access the park via the Fall River Entrance on those two days.
Patterson said that because staging for the pavement preservation project is occurring in the Park & Ride lot along the Bear Lake Road corridor, the parking lot’s 100 parking spaces will be unavailable for use by the public until mid-August.
So, what can you do to avoid this traffic nightmare?
Patterson suggests you take the Hiker Shuttle to the park. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes from the Estes Park Visitor Center to the Park & Ride on Bear Lake Road. Because of the work, however, you should also expect wait times to board the shuttles as well as delays once entering the park.
Starting July 30 through Aug. 2, crack sealing will begin on Trail Ridge Road from the Colorado River Trailhead to the Grand Lake Entrance. You can expect delays of up to 20 minutes while the work is underway.
You can also expect delays from Aug. 12 through the 16 as micro resurfacing takes place on Trail Ridge Road from Rock Cut to west of the Lava Cliffs overlook, Patterson said.
Beginning the week of September 9, road repaving will begin from the Colorado River Trailhead to the Grand Lake Entrance and last approximately two to three weeks, weather and conditions permitting, according to Patterson. Expect wait times of up to 20 mins. as only a single lane of traffic will let vehicles through the road. Parking lots adjacent to the work passing area will be closed a day prior.
“This important project is critical for the long-term protection of park roads and parking areas,” Patterson said, adding the work can only take place in the summer due to park’s elevation and temperatures.
Work will not take place during the weekends or holidays, according to Patterson.