OverviewThe Colorado River trailhead is located in a lovely basin at the north end of the Kawuneeche Valley on the western slope side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Never Summer Mountains tower over the west side of the basin, and Specimen Mountain and the Continental Divide are to the east. This is an interesting location because the east side of the Never Summers are the west side of the Continental Divide, which is here bending into an inverted "U", framing the source of the Colorado River. At the head of the valley La Poudre Pass crosses over to the east of the Divide. So, both sides of this valley are feeding the Colorado River as at starts its 1450 mile journey to the great parks of Utah and the Grand Canyon.
The water situation is further complicated by the Grand Ditch, which is clearly visible on the Never Summer Mountains. This early 20th-century construction project carries water to the Poudre River on the east side of the Divide, and down to the town of Fort Collins and the farmland of Larimer and Weld Counties.
The trailhead provides access to the peaks of the central Never Summer Range, which form the border of this northwest corner of the Park.
Driving DirectionsFrom Estes Park drive to either the Fall River or Beaver Meadows entrance of the park, and continue on to Deer Ridge Junction, a "T" intersection where highways 34 and 36 join. It is about 4 miles from either entrance to the junction. Continue west on US 34 for another 28 miles to the trailhead, driving over Trail Ridge Road, one of the most spectacular drives in the country.
From Grand Lake, the town on the west side of the Park, drive north for about 11.5 miles to the trailhead.
Trail Ridge road is closed in winter, usually October - early June, and can occasionally close during bad weather in the summer. During these times you can only drive to this trailhead from Grand Lake.