Snow closes road overnight Saturday in national park

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A light snowfall with gusting winds closed Trail Ridge Road for the first time this snow season Saturday night, but the scenic pass through Rocky Mountain National Park reopened Sunday morning, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

U.S. Highway 34, as the route also is known, closed in both directions from Rainbow Curve to Milner Pass from 10:41 p.m. Saturday to 9:30 a.m. Sunday because of poor visibility, a CDOT spokesman said today.

The National Weather Service forecast a 30 percent chance of scattered showers or thunderstorms and a low of 38 degrees for the park tonight followed by highs in the low to mid 50s all week. Trail Ridge Road typically closes for the season in October, with periodic closings for snow in September.

The 48-mile road from Estes Park to Grand Lake is the spine of Rocky Mountain National Park, which saw an uptick to more than 2.43 million visitors this year, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

National Park Service records showed 120,000 more visitors through the end of August than during the same period a year ago. Labor Day weekend visits were 9 percent higher than during the same weekend in 2008.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest "through" road in the United States, rising from 10,758 feet in elevation to 12,185 at the Continental Divide.

Meanwhile in Clear Creek County, the top four miles of the highest paved road in the nation to the summit of Mount Evans Road closed for the season on Sept. 3.

Mount Evans Byway from Colorado Highway 103 to Summit Lake remains open open until weather requires closure, according to CDOT.

Independence Pass from Twin Lakes to Aspen, which rises to 12,095 feet, also remains open.

Saturday's snowfall above treeline wasn't the first of the year, however. Colorado's highest elevations are capable of snowfall year-round, where night temperatures routinely dip below freezing above treeline, according to the National Weather Service.

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