Thursday, October 30, 2014

Suspect Named in Vandalism Case at Eight Western National Parks

A 21-year-old New York State woman, Casey Nocket, has been identified as the primary suspect in recent vandalism cases that affect eight national parks in the western United States.

National Park Service investigators have confirmed that images were painted on rocks and boulders in Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park, all in California; Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado National Monument, both in Colorado; Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon; Zion National Park and Canyonlands National Park, both in Utah.

Investigators continue to collect evidence of the crimes, conduct interviews, and are consulting with the U.S. Attorney's Office about potential charges. We ask the public to exercise patience and allow due process to take its course as the investigation moves forward.

The image in Rocky Mountain National Park was reported to the park and removed in late September before similar images were found in the other national parks.

Ice and snow now cover the image at Crater Lake National Park, and it may not be accessible for assessment and clean up until next summer.

An image in Yosemite National Park was removed by an unknown person or persons.

If people visiting these parks come upon these images, they should contact the nearest park ranger with information about the image location. Visitors should not attempt to remove the images.

The National Park Service was contacted on October 20 about this vandalism case. The investigation began immediately.


2014 Rim Rock Marathon - Expect Delays in Colorado National Monument

Possibly one of the most scenic marathons in the world winding through geologic canyons and formations for which this area was preserved, the Rim Rock Marathon will be held on Saturday, November 1, 2014 in Colorado National Monument, under the authority of a special use permit. Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is the permittee. Proceeds from the events benefit CMU Track & Cross Country scholarship program.

The event will start east of the intersection of South Camp Road and Monument Road (0.8 miles from the monument's east entrance) at 8:00 a.m. Runners will travel through the Grand Junction (east) entrance toward the Fruita (west) entrance over Rim Rock Drive with starts and finishes outside the monument boundary.

Rim Rock Drive is open during the hours of the marathon, 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., with these adjustments to provide for the safety of the 200 expected runners and other road users such as motorists and bicyclists:

- the eastbound traffic lane will remain open and Rim Rock Drive will be limited to one-way eastbound traffic. Eastbound traffic exiting the monument through the Grand Junction entrance may experience a delay of approximately 20 minutes.

- the westbound traffic lane will be reserved for marathon runners who will be restricted to using the westbound lane only. As the marathon progresses, the westbound lane will reopen for vehicle use by stages starting from the eastside.

- all facilities will remain open to the public including all scenic overlooks. Although vehicles will not be able to enter or exit the Serpents Trail parking area from 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m., the trail itself will remain open to hikers.

Traffic to/from Glade Park:

- Grand Junction to Glade Park traffic should plan to use Little Park Road between the hours of 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. This alternative is paved and only slightly longer.

- Glade Park to Grand Junction traffic can use either Little Park Road or Rim Rock Drive eastbound. Traffic traveling eastbound on Rim Rock Drive and exiting the monument through the Grand Junction entrance station may encounter a delay of approximately 20 minutes between 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

- Two-way travel along Rim Rock Drive between the Grand Junction entrance and the Glade Park turnoff (DS Road) will be restored at approximately 9:30 a.m.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vandalism Reported in 10 National Parks

The National Park Service is currently investigating reports of vandalism in at least 10 national parks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.

While the NPS can’t discuss details of a case under investigation, officials emphasize that they take the issue of vandalism seriously. National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation’s natural, cultural and historic heritage for both current and future generations. Vandalism is not only a violation of the law but it also damages and sometimes destroys often irreplaceable treasures that belong to all Americans.

The NPS also emphasizes that there are forums for artistic expression in national parks because national parks inspire artistic creativity. These images are outside that forum and outside the law.

Parks affected (awaiting confirmation) include: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Yosemite National Park, California; Death Valley National Park, California; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California; Joshua Tree National Park, California; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; Bryce National Park, Utah; Zion National Park, Utah; and Canyonlands National Park, Utah.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park Proposes Changes In Entrance And Camping Fees

Rocky Mountain National Park is proposing a change in its' current entrance fees. Because of Rocky's proximity to the populated Colorado Front Range, the park is proposing to add a single day pass to the existing option of fees. This "Day Use Pass" would remain at $20 while the weekly pass would increase to $30 for those visitors who intend to enjoy the park for multiple days. The park is proposing that the annual park pass increase to $50 and eventually increase to $60 by 2017.

"A sizable portion of Rocky Mountain National Park's visitation is one day in length," said Vaughn Baker, park superintendent. "Currently, all visitors who do not opt for an annual pass purchase a single entry pass that is valid for seven days. As an alternative to the seven day pass, we are proposing to add a single day pass to the park's option of fees."

While basic operations of the park are funded by direct appropriations from Congress, the fee program is intended to provide for various enhancements to visitor services and facilities. The fee program helps provide a margin of excellence for the visitor experience.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the park currently collects entrance and amenity fees. This law allows parks to retain 80 percent of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Since the beginning of FLREA and its predecessor program Fee Demo, the park has spent over $66 million in repairs, renovations, improvements and resource restoration.

People notice - 90% of surveyed park visitors have continually expressed support for this program. Some of the projects funded through these fees at Rocky Mountain National Park include:

Shuttles - The park's visitor shuttle bus system transports an average of 460,000 visitors annually throughout the Bear Lake Road corridor and to and from Estes Park. In recent years, annual operating costs and a move toward "greening the fleet" that improves fuel efficiency and a reduction in emissions and noise, has increased transit program costs. These costs are offset through revenue generated from fees.

Camping - A multi-year project is ongoing to completely renovate all restroom facilities throughout the park's campgrounds.

Picnicking - A multi-year project is ongoing to replace old wooden picnic tables throughout the park with more sustainable concrete tables, significantly extending the life cycle replacement costs.

Hazard Tree Mitigation: The park is among many areas along the Rocky Mountains where trees have been dying from a mountain pine beetle epidemic. Fee program funding has allowed for extensive mitigation of hazard trees in or near park facilities such as campgrounds, parking lots, road corridors, housing areas and visitor centers.

Hiking Trail Enhancements: Forty-five trailhead kiosks and sign panels have been replaced as well as maintenance and replacement of hundreds of front country and backcountry signs. Sections of approximately 100 of the park's 350 miles of trails have been maintained and reconstructed including Flattop Mountain, Dream Lake, Black Lake, Wild Basin area trails, Longs Peak, North Fork, Lawn Lake, East Inlet, North Inlet, and the Alpine Ridge Trail. Fee program funding has also afforded opportunities for a variety of Youth Corps groups such as the Student Conservation Association, Rocky Mountain, Larimer County, Americorps, Ground Work Denver and others to assist with these trail projects.

Park staff are proposing that campground fees increase from $20 a night to $26 a night in 2016. Campground fees are based on comparable fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2012, more than 3.2 million park visitors contributed $196 million to the local economy and supported 2,779 jobs related to tourism.

"We are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience," said Baker. "We feel that our proposed fee changes are still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences one can enjoy. Plus, 80 percent of those funds stay right here in Rocky to benefit visitors. As we celebrate Rocky's Centennial, these funds are critical as we move forward into the next one hundred years."

Park staff are seeking feedback about the proposed fee schedule. Please email comments by December 1, 2014. The current park entrance fees have been in effect for the past nine years. The park's annual pass increased in 2009. Feedback the park receives will help determine how and when a fee increase may be implemented.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Announcing Launch of New Hiking Website

Today we’re proud to announce the official launch of our brand new hiking website for Grand Teton National Park. The new site provides details on more than 40 hikes in the Grand Tetons, and is organized similarly to our, and websites. The URL for our new site is:

In addition to being a great source for trail information, we designed the site to be an excellent tool for vacation planning as well. We’ve included a lot of travel information that will be helpful while planning your vacation.

Even if you have no plans on traveling to the Grand Tetons, I hope that you might enjoy some of the photographs on the site. If you know of anyone planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park, or any hikers in general that may be interested, please feel free to forward the website onto them.

Thanks again for all of your support! We would also love to hear any feedback you might have.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Endovalley Road Reopens In Rocky Mountain National Park | Old Fall River Road To Open Next July

Roughly one-half mile of the Endovalley Road has reopened to vehicles in Rocky Mountain National Park. This area, along with Old Fall River Road, suffered extensive damages during last year's flood. Currently, there is no trail access in the Alluvial Fan area from either the east or west parking areas as those trails were destroyed. If walking or hiking off road or trail in flood-damaged areas use caution and check area signs, the park website, or ask a ranger for information and safety tips.

Endovalley Road is closed to vehicles past the west Alluvial Fan parking lot. Until October 31, leashed pets and bikes are allowed past this point and can continue up Old Fall River Road on the roadway only. Visitors walking or biking should use caution as the road may be icy and snow-covered at higher elevations. Beginning November 1, leashed pets and bikes will only be allowed from the west Alluvial Fan parking lot to the gate at the base of Old Fall River Road.

Old Fall River Road is expected to open to vehicles in the summer of 2015. Normally the road is open from the fourth of July to early October. Old Fall River Road is a historic dirt road built between 1913 and 1920. Due to the winding, narrow nature of the road, the scenic 9.4-mile route is one-way. It follows the steep slope of Mount Chapin's south face.

The Federal Highways Administration funded this project through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) program.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

U.S. Forest Service Temporarily Opens a Portion of Waldo Canyon Burn Area

The Pike National Forest - Pikes Peak Ranger District is temporarily opening Forest Service Road (FSR) 300, also known as Rampart Range Road. This popular tourist road is now open between Garden of the Gods and Rampart Reservoir within the Waldo Canyon Burn Area.

Forest Order 2014-16 opens the area to day use only. The public may not camp, have campfires or park outside of designated areas. Forest visitors should refer to maps posted at entry points and within the Waldo Burn Area.

The restricted area includes the National Forest boundary above Garden of the Gods to Sand Gulch (about 2 miles south of Rampart Reservoir). All of the National Forest System lands between the Highway 24 corridor and Rampart Range Road will remain closed to entry. This closure includes Williams and Waldo Canyons and Wellington and Sand Gulches. Also closed to entry is an area around Nichols Reservoir in the upper West Monument Creek drainage (below the Rampart Reservoir dam).

Most of the area east of Rampart Range Road will be open to public use, but camping and campfires will be prohibited. In that same area, parking will be restricted to designated areas. The U.S. Forest Service has installed signs that identify the designated parking locations and these are generally in locations where use of the adjacent National Forest will not result in resource concerns. There are no designated parking locations between the Garden of the Gods park and the National Forest boundary, and then not until above the closed shooting range.

The South Rampart Shooting Range remains closed.

Visitors should use extreme caution and expect to encounter falling dead trees and limbs, steep slopes, stump holes and the potential for flooding in this Burned Area. According to Pikes Peak District Ranger Oscar Martinez, “If you choose to go into the Waldo Canyon area, expect a changed condition. It is not the same forest that many remember prior to the 2012 wildfire. There are many dangers so be very cautious with a plan of escape when the winds increase or it starts to rain. Your safety is our priority.”

The Waldo Canyon Trail along Highway 24 will remain closed. The U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Department of Transportation all agree that significant public safety concerns exist at this time.

The Waldo Canyon Burn Area Closure Special Order and map are located on the web under “Alerts and Notices”. For additional questions, please call the Pikes Peak District Office at 719-636-1602.