ROCKTY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – Old Fall River Road, a one-way, 11-mile gravel road referred to as Rocky Mountain National Park’s “stairway to heaven,” will remain open past its usual closing date in order to facilitate passage for firefighting vehicles and personnel working the Cameron Peak Fire.

The road was scheduled to close Monday. Park officials had re-opened it Oct. 1 after its closure throughout most of September due to the wildfire’s encroachment, but decided to extend the road’s planned shut-down date indefinitely.

A photo of the Cameron Peak Fire on Sept. 7th. (credit: Dawn Ann Wynne)

The Cameron Peak Fire was whipped by high winds on Sept. 5 and tripled in size. The blaze moved into the Hague Creek, Cascade Creek, and Cache La Poudre River drainages on the park’s northwest corner.

Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the nation, were both closed that day.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered.

A boy looks toward the Cameron Peak Fire on Aug. 17th while standing near the Visitor’s Center on Trail Ridge Road. (credit: Erik Stensland Photography)

Just as suddenly, the storm system that created the winds put an end to the fire’s advance with a healthy dose of snowfall and cold temperatures days later. Trail Ridge Road remained closed with five- and six-foot snow drifts.

Old Fall River Road is an access to the areas of the park near still threatened by the blaze.

Monday’s anticipated high winds and low relative humidity mean increased potential for the advancement of existing fires and the creation of new ones.

It is open to vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians until further notice, according to the park, but all forms of civilian traffic must yield to fire vehicles and firefighters. Numerous trails in the area are still off-limits.

An undated photo taken from Old Fall River Road looking toward Fall River Pass. (credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

Old Fall River Road was built between 1913 and 1920. It includes sixteen tight switchbacks and a 16 percent grade at its steepest point. It connects Horseshoe Park to 11,796-foot Fall River Pass about treeline.

 

 

Logan Smith

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