BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

No crowds here: A rare opportunity to mountain bike Rocky Mountain National Park

Old Fall River Road at Rocky Mountain National Park is usually a busy one-way (uphill) gravel road taking you to above 12,000 feet high on Trail Ridge. It's the only access from the park's primary visitor areas to the Mummy Range, home of some of the park's least-visited and pristine wilderness. The road normally opens in early June, but by July 23, it's still closed because of a 15-foot snowbank blocking the road near the Alpine Visitor Center. The snowbank is so thick right now, the park's snowplow operators can't find the road beneath the snow. Each weekend during the closure, the road is open to hikers and cyclists, but few cyclists have learned about it yet, and Rocky isn't normally a place that allowed much mountain biking. So today, my friend Dave and I made the great ascent — as far as we could — up at least 3,000 vertical feet and about six miles of the nine-mile Old Fall River Road.

With postcard perfect blue skies, Rocky was packed with tourists as it usually is on summer weekends. But on Old Fall River Road, there were more marmots than people. No crowds, perfect weather, great scenery and a hell of a fun time descending thousands of feet back to the car. There may be only one more weekend left in the season before the road opens to cars, and bikes will be forced to ride only uphill. Today was a rare experience. Here's a video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xah-Xvd0xEw&w=560&h=349]