Government shutdown leaves one road to Estes Park

9:06 PM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - There were two roads connecting the town of Estes Park to the rest of the state.

The town lost two major routes to the recent floods and now has lost another due to a government shutdown.

Rocky Mountain National Park will close Trail Ridge Road after Congress failed to fund the federal government, park officials said.

"Trail Ridge Road is on borrowed time because of weather. Our goal this year is to do what we can to keep it open as long as we can," park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said. "We were looking more at weather being the reason that the road closed, not other extenuating circumstances."

The park took the unusual step of plowing recent snowfall to keep the artery open and has been allowing traffic to use the road without paying the park entry fee during flood recovery.

Eventually, as snowfall becomes more regular, plowing will prove ineffective due to blowing snowdrifts at the road's high-altitude pass.

Until then, the plan was to keep the route open for the benefit of Estes Park.

"We feel that this could be another blow to particularly the Estes Park community of which many of us live in and are already dealing with the ramifications of the flood," Patterson said.

Like all other national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park was immediately closed upon the shutdown.

Visitors already in the park camping were given 48 hours to leave, including backpackers camping in remote wilderness.

"Because you have to have permits when you backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, we know where those people are," Patterson said.

Campers will need to leave in order to get their cars out: during the shutdown, gates will be closed and locked.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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