Old Fall River Road is a seasonal delight in RMNP — The Know

Sometimes scarcity makes an experience feel more valuable. Perhaps that is the case when drivers take a trip up Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Traveling up the one-way unpaved road is a seasonal delight. Old Fall River is only open from July 3 to Oct. 4 of this year.

A recent drive up the historic road yielded a bounty of delights. Stunning views, sounds of running water, amazing plants and wildlife abound.

Old Fall River was the first automobile road up the mountains in the park. It was constructed in 1920 and using switchbacks, winds from Horseshoe Park to Old Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center at 11,796 feet.

The National Park Service says the road follows an old route first used by Native American hunters years ago.

As you travel road in a modern vehicle, it’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like when it first opened and tourists drove in open cars up the dirt road with massive precipices below. That experience must have been exhilarating.

During the 11-mile drive, you are in the midst of wilderness that includes an amazing waterfall (Chasm Falls), incredible trees and wildlife. We were treated to several marmot sightings on the way to the top at the Alpine Center.

Old Fall River Road has no guard rails. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour, but drivers will probably want to go even slower than that to take in the incredible views. There are several pull-offs to stop and take photographs.

This is a nature drive at its best. You can get to the road most easily through the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Coming back to Estes Park, drivers take Trail Ridge Road back down.

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