GRAND LAKE, Colo. (CBS4) – One of Colorado’s and the country’s most spectacular drives is open for the season.

The snow has been cleared, so the high part of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is now open. The road is the highest, continuous paved road in the United States, climbing to more than 12,000 feet.

trail ridge is open from rmnp today Trail Ridge Road Open All The Way Through Rocky Mountain National Park

(credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

It’s always a thrilling ride for several million visitors each year.

Park staffers always hope to have the road open all the way from Estes Park to Grand Lake by Memorial Day weekend. This year, they made it a day early.

rmnp snow clearing from past few weeks Trail Ridge Road Open All The Way Through Rocky Mountain National Park

(credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

Clearing winter and spring snows is a monumental effort. Crews began in April plowing from both the west and east side, eventually meeting at the Alpine Visitor Center.

The visitor center is the highest in all of the country’s national parks, sitting at 11,796 feet above sea level. This year, park staffers say the snowpack was average or below average in many locations, so clearing went a little quicker than usual. Plus, sun and rain led to significant melting over the last two weeks… including last weekend’s storms which produced rain instead of the predicted snow.

rmnp clearing may 3 after snowstorm Trail Ridge Road Open All The Way Through Rocky Mountain National Park

(credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

The Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store are expected to open Friday. Night time closures, which are common in May and June, will not be implemented, but drivers should be prepared for icy conditions at any time due to melting snow.

alpine visitor center webcam from rmnp 1225pm thurs Trail Ridge Road Open All The Way Through Rocky Mountain National Park

(credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

Weather is variable this time of year, so conditions could change rapidly, and the road can close at any time.  Call the park’s Trail Ridge Road recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222 for the latest conditions.

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