Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pioneers of the Peaks: Local Climbers Who Made History

The year-long celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park's 100th Anniversary continues as we head into March. This month offers several more events for park enthusiasts to celebrate their favorite national park. Of particular interest for hikers and climbers is a program called Pioneers of the Peaks: Local Climbers Who Made History, which will be held on March 30th. The description of this event is as follows:

Training in Rocky Mountain National Park presented by Harry Kent. For several decades, a small group of men and women made history exploring and ascending the summits surrounding the Estes Valley. In 2013 and 2014, the Estes Park Museum and the Estes Valley Library gathered their inspiring stories. This presentation is at 7 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum. It will highlight the training that Harry Kent and his partner Keith Lober did in preparation for their daunting winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1982!

For more information on this event, and all the events during the month of March, please click here.


Snowshoe Tour: RMNP Bear Lake to Emerald Lake

Later this month the Denver area REI's will be hosting a snowshoe tour in Rocky Mountain National Park. Participants will snowshoe to an iconic winter destination located in the heart of the park. This 3.6 mile (round trip) hike ends at Emerald Lake, a high mountain lake surrounded by Hallet Peak, Dragon Tail couloir and Flattop Mountain. REI guides will captivate you with information on the surrounding area's history, as well as nature, all the while taking in the snowy sights of winter at a relaxed pace. Prior snowshoeing experience is recommended (Introduction to Snowshoeing Class or equivalent skills). This is not a skills class and students should be able to snowshoe for 3-4 miles

This 4-hour program will take place from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM on March 15th. A fee is charged to participate.

For more information, please click here.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Special Hikes and Tours in Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is again offering a series of unique ranger-guided educational experiences in 2015. Tickets for these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at

Ranger-guided hikes and programs include a 2-hour hike to Oak Tree House offered weekly during the summer, a 2-hour hike to Square Tower House offered in Spring and Fall, a half-day hike on Wetherill Mesa, Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, and the Photography Tour at Cliff Palace. Check the website for more detailed descriptions of each program.

Oak Tree House 
This 60-room site built on two ledges is one of the largest cliff dwellings in the park. It is a well-preserved but fragile site that features plastered walls and varied architectural styles. The 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike is moderately strenuous. Expect a narrow, unpaved, uneven trail, with steps carved into the sandstone, steep drop-offs, two ladders (4-foot and 15-foot; 1.2m to 4.6m), and a total elevation change of 200 feet (61m). In addition to up-close views of this site, you will have stunning views of Cliff Canyon, Cliff Palace, and Sun Temple. The Oak Tree House hike is available from May 26 to September 5 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Square Tower House
This stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling includes an original kiva roof and the Crow's Nest, both features that cannot be seen from the viewpoint on the canyon rim. The strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 ft. (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, scrambling up and down boulders, and climbing three ladders, the longest of which is 20 feet (6.1m). The Square Tower House hike is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from May 3 – May 24, and on Sundays and Thursdays from September 10 – October 18, 2015. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Wetherill Mesa Hike and Bike Adventure
Hikers and bicyclers: this is the trip for you! This ranger-guided, 4.5 hour trek on the quieter side of Mesa Verde includes about 5 miles of biking, 4 miles of hiking, expansive canyon views, spectacular overlooks of remote cliff dwellings, and a tour of magnificent Long House. A bicycle is required for this, so plan to bring your own bike or you may be able to rent one upon arrival at the Wetherill Mesa parking lot. Call 970-529-4465 to verify this before booking your ticket. With a ranger, you'll bike to several mesa top archeological sites, walk to others, and hike about 3 miles round trip through the pinyon-juniper woodlands for cliff edge views of Nordenskiold #12 and Double House. The tour concludes after the Long House tour, and participants are free to continue exploring Wetherill Mesa or bike back to the parking lot with the ranger. The Adventure is offered Wednesdays and Sundays from Wednesday, May 27 – Sunday, September 6. Tickets cost $18 for adults, or $15 for children up to age 16 or holders of the Interagency Senior, Military, or Access lifetime passes. Group size is limited to 15 people.

Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace
Twilight Tours offer a historical perspective on Cliff Palace and Mesa Verde National Park. Costumed interpreters introduce visitors to famous characters from the past. Twilight Tours are scheduled on Sunday through Thursday evenings from May 24 through September 6. Tickets cost $12 per person and group size is limited to 20 people.

Photography Tour in Cliff Palace
Photographers, here is an opportunity to spend 90 minutes in Cliff Palace with a park ranger in a small group setting. Dramatic sunset lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure. The tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings from May 22 to September 5. Photographers must be able to carry all of their gear while keeping both hands free to climb ladders. Tickets cost $20 per person and group size is limited to 10 people.

For reservations or more information, visit or call 1-877-444-6777.


New Website Launched for Rocky Mountain Travelers

Looking for a resource to help plan your next trip to the Rocky Mountains? Just this past December a brand new website was launched to promote travel resources and vacation spots for those wishing to visit the Rocky Mountains. Called Top Rocky Vacations, the site focuses on ski products and vacations, primarily in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.

Although new, the owners of the site plan to expand, with the goal of eventually becoming the best travel site aimed at promoting the Rocky Mountain region.

The website’s primary focus is on travel, including flights and hotels, but will also provide insights on outdoor adventure activities. Additionally, the owners, Bryan and Britta, are available to personally provide help to travelers as they make plans for their trips.

Please take a moment to check out their website. You just may discover a new destination for your next vacation. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snowshoe Tour: RMNP Bear Lake to Mills Lake

Next month the Denver area REI's will be hosting two snowshoe tours in Rocky Mountain National Park. Participants will snowshoe past snow-covered waterfalls and over frozen lakes to grand views of Longs Peak. The hike will begin from Bear Lake, travel up Glacier Gorge, and then end at Mills Lake, situated in a beautiful alpine setting. REI guides will captivate you with information on the surrounding areas history and nature all while we take in the snowy sights of winter. Prior snowshoeing experience is recommended (Introduction to Snowshoeing Class or equivalent skills). This is not a skills class and students should be able to snowshoe for 5-6 miles.

These 5.5-hour programs will take place from 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM on March 7th and March 28th. A fee will be charged for each outing.

For more information, please click here.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Denver Area REIs to offer Rocky Mountain Backpacking Programs

Let the Denver area REIs take the mystery out of backpacking with an overview of planning, preparation and gear. Participants in the 1.5-hour program will learn how to choose a pack, and select proper clothing and footwear. REI will also give you important notes on trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principles. In all, REI will help you understand what you need to get out backpacking in the Rocky Mountains.

This 1.5-hour program will take place from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at several Denver area REIs next month:

March 3rd: Lakewood

March 11th: Westminster

March 19th: Denver

March 23rd: Ft. Collins

March 25th: Englewood

March 31st: Boulder

For more information, please click here.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Have you ever looked at a map of Rocky Mountain National Park and wondered what the Alva B Adams Tunnel was all about? The tunnel appears as a dotted line, crossing through the heart of the park from Grand Lake to Estes Park. It was built in order to transport water from Grand Lake to farmers on the eastern plains of Colorado. This 13.1-mile tunnel is truly a marvel of engineering – especially when you consider there was no such thing as GPS or laser technology in 1944. Workers began drilling on both sides of the Continental Divide in 1940. The 9.75-foot diameter tunnel was completed on June 10, 1944 when workers met at the halfway point, roughly 3800 feet below the surface of the mountain peaks. Starting from both sides of the Continental Divide, the engineers were only 7/16s of an inch off alignment when they finally met in the middle!

Below is a documentary film on the construction of the Tunnel, produced in 1943 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation: