DENVER (KDVR) — A sign of summer: the reopening of Colorado’s high mountain passes.

That includes Trail Ridge Road, which is set to reopen Friday in Rocky Mountain National Park. Reaching 12,183 feet, it’s famously known as the highest continuous paved road in the U.S. and connects Estes Park to Grand Lake.

But like a number of Colorado’s beloved parks, you’ll need a reservation to get in.

A mountain road is cleared of snow
Trail Ridge Road was cleared of snow at Rock Cut ahead of the 2023 summer season. (Credit: Rocky Mountain National Park)

Pass required for Rocky Mountain National Park

More than 4.3 million people visited Rocky Mountain National Park last year. It’s one of the most-visited national parks in the country, but the high volume of visitors puts a negative impact on the experience, park officials said.

To help, the park has been working on ways to improve visitor management. That includes various permit reservation pilots in place since 2020 and through this year’s summer season.

Visitors have to sign up ahead of time to get into the park and drive Trail Ridge Road. The timed entry reservation system for Rocky Mountain National Park begins Friday and lasts through Oct. 22.

There are two types of reservations.

One is for the Bear Lake Road corridor. That includes access to the rest of the park and is from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Another permit gives access to the park, including Trail Ridge Road, but excludes the Bear Lake Road corridor. That reservation window is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Trail Ridge Road conditions

This early in the season, drivers should prepare for freezing temperatures and icy conditions as the snow continues to melt on the road, park officials said.

The Alpine Visitor Center will open on Saturday, but the Trail Ridge Store will have limited services.

Visitors are urged to call the Trail Ridge Road status line to hear recorded updates on conditions. That number is 970-586-1222.