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High winds, blowing snow delay Trail Ridge Road from opening

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park will not open as scheduled Friday because of high winds and blowing snow, park officials said Thursday.

Last week, the stretch of U.S. 34 that crosses the park from Estes Park to Grand Lake, was clear and crews were close to having the Alpine Visitor Center dug out.

But a major snowstorm pushed back efforts and on Thursday, winds reaching up to 75 mph slowed crews. More snow above 10,000 feet is in the forecast for the weekend.

Park officials said plow operators are facing 8 to 14 feet of snow on the road. No estimate was given for when the popular road would open, but it won’t be before Monday.

Reaching an elevation of more than 12,000 feet, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the nation. It closes in the winter because of snow and treacherous conditions, and usually opens by Memorial Day weekend.

The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002, and the latest was June 26, 1943.

Park officials said they still expect a busy holiday weekend, with three reservation campgrounds expected to be full.