Old Fall River Road
See Map Below

The Fall River Road was the first road to cross the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. Starting by Larimer and Grant counties in 1913 before the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park, the early construction was carried out by state prison inmates. The convicts made little progress and contractors completed the road in 1920. The unpaved mountain road climbed from Horseshoe Park up the steep Fall River Valley over a series of tight switchbacks to reach Fall River Pass at 11,796'; from there, the road continued down the west side of the mountains to Grand Lake. Despite the popularity of the route, the road proved difficult to traverse and maintain. Automobiles had trouble mastering the steep grade and tight curves and avalanches often buried the road forty feet deep. Following the completion of Trail Ridge Road in 1932 the eastern Half of Fall River Road became a one-way scenic drive from Endovalley up to Fall River Pass; the western half was abandoned or overbuilt by the Trail Ridge Road.

GRADE: The road climbed to Fall River Pass on steep grades sometimes reaching 16%. Some early automobiles had to climb in reverse due to their weak engines and gravity-fed fuel system. Surface materials washed off quickly.

TURN RADIUS: Motorists had to negotiate sixteen switch-backs with radii as tight as 20'. Some vehicles had to turn back and forth repeatedly to make the curves.

ROAD WIDTH: The road width rarely exceeded 14', too narrow for cars to pass safely. Passing turnouts were provided, but these were few and far between.

ELEVATION GAIN: The roadway was largely built out from the hillside. In the steepest places, multiple switch-backs were stacked one above the other.

PULLOUTS: Few pullouts were provided to allow motorist to stop; some were located on switch-backs, making the curves even more difficult.

Before you take this drive, stop by one of the Rocky Visitors Center and pickup a copy of the $1 guide called "Old Fall River Road". When you do take the ride, stop frequently and often as every "pull off" or parking area has much to offer. Enjoy this area by exploring the trails, the river and the animals as you make the trip. Can you find the old cabin that was build almost 100 year ago? — Karl Snyder, Webmaster.

Area Name Location / Information
Endovalley Overlook  Photos Here  
Chasm Falls  Photos Here  
5 Mile Canyon Photos Here  
Chaplin Creek Trailhead  Photos Here Elevation 10,640 feet.
Access to:
  • Ypsilon Mountain (3.5 Miles, 2,874 feet)
Old Fall River Road is a one-way dirt road from Horseshoe Park to Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. The ONE-WAY road is nine miles long and is NOT OPEN UNTIL JULY 4 of each year. (July 3 for 2003)

Old Fall River Road Map

RMNP- Old Fall River Road Map

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