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May 12, 2012 7:49 AM by Kate Richards

Trails open early

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) - If the weather cooperates, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is scheduled to open for the summer Monday, about two weeks earlier than normal.

Trail Ridge Road reaches 12,183 feet at its highest point and is billed as the highest continuous paved road in the U.S.

Historically, it closes in late October and reopens on Memorial Day weekend. Last year, after heavy snowstorms continued well into the spring, the road didn't open until June 6.

The earliest the road has ever opened is May 7. That happened in 2002, when the state went through an extreme drought.

Colorado has been reporting abnormally dry conditions this spring, and the U.S. Drought Monitor shows northwest Colorado in a severe drought.

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