ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4)- There’s too much snow on Trail Ridge Road for it to be open in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s crazy how much snow piled up this winter,” said Rocky Mountain National Park visitor and Boulder resident Ann Karpinski.Walking is the only way to get past Rainbow Curve because heaping snow blocks the roadway on Trail Ridge Road.
“I’ve been up here a lot of times with snow but it’s a lot higher that I’m used to seeing,” said Rocky Mountain National Park visitor and Arvada resident Clyde Manning.
Snow plow drivers are working to open the highest continuous paved road in the country. Carving through heavy, wet snow clogs the equipment, making for a long process. Snow has drifted 23 feet in some places. It’s more snow than even experienced plow drivers can remember.
“It is certainly the most snow that they have seen this late in the season in 30 years,” said Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.
Crews had plowed the road to bare pavement until another snowstorm blew in last week. There was so much snow, some areas of the roadway were covered in snow that measured 17 feet deep. The crews were set back eight miles from where they had plowed.
The latest opening ever was in late June, nearly 70 years ago before modern snowplows.
“When Mother Nature helps us we’ll get the road open,” said Patterson.
The town of Estes Park is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Some business owners predict that no passageway on Trail Ridge Road will keep some people away. But they say it won’t make or break the holiday because there is still a lot to do in town and in the park.
“It is a factor, but it’s not like the end of the world. I mean, people will come up because the weather is supposed to be nice,” said The Taffy Shop owner Dave Schutz.
“They come up here thinking it’s going to be open and it won’t be, so maybe they’ll come shopping,” said Blake Trading Company owner Tom Blake.
Business said high gas prices are a bigger concern.
Campers are eager to kickoff their summer in Rocky Mountain National Park. Reserved campsites are booked for the weekend.