Trail Ridge Road Rock Walls – Rocky Mountain National Park CO


Trail Ridge Road is the main route across Rocky Mountain National Park, built in 1929 to 1932 to replace the old Fall River road.  It is a marvel of highway engineering and provides stunning views of the park, particularly as it traverses the alpine regions above timber line. The road is 48 miles long and its summit near the Alpine Ranger Station is over 12,000 feet.  It is the highest continuous paved road in North America and is now a National Scenic Byway.

In building the road, the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) and its contractors built several miles of low guard rails on dangerous curves and a number of higher retaining walls on steep embankments, all of which use local stone.  The guard walls are done in a charming crenelated style fashionable at the time.  

On the east side of the continental divide, the walls were built before the New Deal.  On the western side, on the 10 1/2 miles of roads that climbs steeply up from the Colorado River to Fall River Pass, the work was done in 1934. At the time of its construction, Trail Ridge Road was still known as the Fall River Road and State Highway 1; the section in question here was designated as 1-C. 

The project cost $62,242 and the contractor was Edward Selanger of Greeley CO.  Unskilled labor was secured from the unemployment offices in Larimer and Grand counties and skilled stone masons were hired from Denver.

The photographs shown below proceed from west to east.

IMG_4871 (brief video of wall along west side of Trail Ridge Road)

IMG_4872 (video #2)

Source notes

John Coffey, Final Construction Report (1934) on Fall River National Park Highway, Fall River-West Side Section, Project 1-C, Guard Rails. US Department of Agriculture: Bureau of Public Roads, District #3.  November 13, 1935.

Amy Law, A Natural History of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park's Highway to the Sky. Charleston SC: The History Press, 2014.




Project originally submitted by Richard Walker on August 19, 2022.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Trail Ridge Road
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO 80517

Location notes: Pin drop where road crosses Phantom Creek

Coordinates: 40.40383, -105.8343

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