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Lucky Rocky Mountain tourist walks away after SUV falls 500ft from Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Emergency responders rescued a man at Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday after his SUV went over the edge of a popular mountain road.

As KDVR (opens in new tab) reports, other park visitors notified rangers after spotting a vehicle off-road, about 500ft down from Trail Ridge Road. Park staff worked with the Estes Valley Fire Protection District to rescue the 54-year-old driver, and despite the accident, he was well enough to walk away from the scene.

He was later taken to hospital by ambulance, but the park hasn't released further details of his condition.

Highway to the sky

The National Park Service (opens in new tab) calls Trail Ridge Road "Rocky Mountain National Park's heavily traveled highway to the sky". The road covers 48 miles between the park's east and west sides, with 11 miles above the treeline.

At the edge of the park's evergreen forest, the road's elevation nears 11,500ft, which gives spectacular views, and great wildlife-watching opportunities. As National Parks Traveler (opens in new tab) explains, the steep drops and absence of guiderails mean it's not an ideal site for motorists with vertigo, but accidents are rare.

"We have a few motor vehicle accidents a year along Trail Ridge Road, but few are fatal," Rocky Mountain spokeswoman Kyle Patterson told NPT.

According to the Federal Highway Agency, guiderails or walls might actually make accidents worse, particularly those involving motorcycles. "Outside of the alpine areas, vehicles that run off the roadway are generally stopped a short distance from the roadway by trees and due to the low speeds there are relatively minor injuries," the agency says. 

"If a barrier on this curvy road had redirected these vehicles, it is quite likely they would go across the other lane of traffic and possibly have a more serious accident or involve an innocent bystander in the crash."

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).