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Rocky Mountain National Park Receives Heavy Snowfall, Facilities Close


May Day greeted Rocky Mountain National Park with more than a foot of fresh snow, a good spring storm that will boost the park's snowpack heading into summer.

More than a foot of new snow was measured at the park's Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (7,840 feet) Wednesday morning, and snow was still falling steadily on the east side of the park. At the Kawuneeche Visitor Center (8,720 feet) on the west side of the park, 12 inches of fresh snow was received and it was snowing lightly there at mid-day.

As a result of the snowfall, Trail Ridge Road was closed at Deer Ridge Junction on the east side of the park - normally this time of year it is open to Many Parks Curve. Bear Lake Road also was closed at the Park & Ride. Park snowplows were working on the roads.

Additionally, the storm caused power, heat, and phone outages in different areas of Rocky Mountain National Park. As a result, both the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and the Fall River Visitor Center on the east side of the park closed at noon Wednesday. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side of the park was to remain open.

Tuesday was the last day for park staff to take snow measurements at Bear Lake for the season. Park staff has been collecting this data since the winter of 1983-1984. Rangers measure the snow every day from November through April.

For comparison, at Bear Lake in 2012 the park received 8.5 inches of snow in March and 14 inches in April. This year the area received 31.5 inches in March and 80 inches in April. The total snow for this past winter at Bear Lake was 182.9 inches, while last year's total was 186 inches. The long-running winter average for snowfall at Bear Lake is 230.25 inches.

"That's less snow at Bear Lake than last year," said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson, referring to the 182.9 inches counted at Bear Lake, "however .... what certainly matters is how much moisture is in that snow. Snow in April packs a much better 'punch' than snow in December does."

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