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.
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.
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.
Want to be sure you heard that Old Fall River Road in #RMNP will remain open to vehicles until further notice (due to access for fire personnel). Plan was to close it for the season today. Check out 970-586-1222 for current status, + additional info: https://t.co/RiWS9ib70W ks pic.twitter.com/nx6QP1r4nC
— RockyNPS (@RockyNPS) October 5, 2020
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.
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.