Trail Ridge -- Ute Trail

High Country Thoroughfare -- The Ute Trail

The Colorado Rocky Mountains presented early travelers with a difficult choice: either go around this seemingly impenetrable barrier or find a way through.

The Ute and Arapaho Indians did the latter as they journeyed between their summer and winter hunting grounds. Their early routes within the Park crossed the Continental Divide via Big Meadows and Flattop Mountain, up Fall River, over Fall River Pass and along the Trail Ridge.

Latter, as frontier settlements flourished along both sides of the "Divide", travel over the "Ute Trail" became fairly regular. The route first used by the Indians soon became an established trail as seen today, crossed and recrossed by modern Trail Ridge Road.

The Indian, trapper, and prospector are now a part of history, but today's travelers can cross much of this high country along a route created over a century ago.

The Glacial Landscape

Like other high mountain valleys, Forest Canyon was filled with ice and shaped by glaciers during the past two million years. Here, ice flowed through a stream valley and followed the straight line of the ancient faults. Side valleys contributed their own rivers of ice, and carved the canyons of Hayden Gorge and Gorge Lakes The Rolling terrain of the high country was untouched by glacial ice.

What you can see from this turnout:

  1. Longs Peak (14,255)
  2. Stones Peak (12,922)
  3. Spraque Mountain(12,713)
  4. Hayden Spire
  5. Hayden Gorge
  6. Terra Tomah (12,718)
  7. Mt Ida
  8. Gorge Lakes

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