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Winter Park Colorado Drives
When driving up I-70 I have wondered what Fall River Road was. I saw this article about a fall aspen tree viewing drive in the Winter Park area and thought I would share it with you. This is taken from the Intrawest Homeowners September 2009 newsletter:
Old Fall River Road
Are you looking for a nice place to go and see the fall colors this September? Although the beautiful Aspen trees cover many areas of our valley and county, there is one drive worth seeing if you have the chance. Old Fall River Road was the first road to cross the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. The construction of this road was started by state prison inmates in 1913, before Rocky Mountain National Park was established. The job was slow and eventually completed by contractors in 1920. Although it became a very popular road, it proved to be very difficult to travel as well as maintain. In fact, some motorists had to go up this road in reverse, to make it over the steep grade with their weak engines and gravity-fed fuel systems. Not only was this a problem, but often times avalanches would cover the road in 40 feet of snow for months at a time. Because of the difficulty in maintaining this road, as well as the steep grades and sharp switchbacks, construction began on the Trail Ridge Road, which was completed in 1932. At this point, half of Fall River Road became a one-way scenic drive from Endovalley up to Fall River Pass, leaving the western half abandoned or overbuilt by the new Trail Ridge Road. This drive offers spectacular views, above and below tree line, and will be a great spot to see the beautiful fall colors. It would certainly make a great day trip over to Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road, and back to Grand County, utilizing the one-way Old Fall River Road. Several sights to see while traveling the Old Fall River Road are the Endovalley Overlook, Chasm Falls and 5 Mile Canyon. All offer breath-taking views and are sights worth seeing if you can.
Things to keep in mind if traveling over Old Fall River Road:
GRADE: steepest grades up to 16%
TURN RADIUS: tightest radii of 16 switchbacks is about 20’.
ROAD WIDTH: rarely exceeds 14’
Rocky Mountain National Park urges visitors to stop by one of the Rocky Visitors Centers and pick up a copy of the “Old Fall River Road” guide for just $1. This will help explain history as well as what you are viewing along the way. Visit the Kawuneeche Visitors Center at the West entrance of the park for more information.