Saturday, April 19, 2014

U.S. Forest Service Offers Public Meetings in Nederland and Lyons on Flood Efforts

Boulder Ranger District (BRD) staff of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland will host an open house to discuss information about ongoing flood recovery efforts on National Forest System lands.

Since the September 2013 floods, the forest landscape has changed dramatically and representatives from the Flood Recovery Team would like to provide the public opportunities to learn about natural resource recovery, affected recreational opportunities and National Forest System lands access.

Meetings will be held at the following locations and dates:

* April 22nd, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Nederland Community Center in Nederland, CO

* April 30th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Rogers Hall in Lyons, CO

The meeting format will be an open house with a brief presentation at 7:00 p.m.

For more information contact Ben Johnson at or call (303) 541-2544

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish in Rocky Mountain National Park

Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.

The information about mercury, and its appearance in protected areas considered to be relatively pristine and removed from environmental contaminants, is in a recently published scientific report from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service.

This study of mercury in fish is the first of its kind to incorporate information from remote places at 21 national parks in 10 western states, including Alaska. Western parks were selected for this study because of the significant role that atmospheric mercury deposition plays in remote places, and the lack of broad-scale assessments on mercury in fish in remote areas of the west.

Mercury concentrations in fish sampled from these parks were generally low, but were elevated in some instances. The study examines total mercury in fish, of which 95 percent is in the form of methylmercury, the most dangerous form to human and wildlife health.

Mercury is harmful to human and wildlife health, and is among the most widespread contaminants in the world. It is distributed at a global scale from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions (responsible for approximately half of atmospheric mercury emissions), emissions from the ocean, and forest fires, and from human sources such as burning fossil fuels in power plants, gold mining, and incineration of municipal and medical waste. Mercury is also distributed at local or regional scales as a result of current and historic mining activities. These human activities have increased levels of atmospheric mercury at least three fold during the past 150 years.

Between 2008 and 2012, NPS resource managers collected more than 1,400 fish from 86 lakes and rivers, and USGS scientists measured mercury concentrations in fish muscle tissue. The authors found that mercury levels varied greatly, both between parks and among sites within each park. In most parks, mercury concentrations in fish were moderate to low. In fact, mercury concentrations were below EPA’s fish tissue criterion for safe human consumption in 96 percent of the sport fish sampled.

However, the average concentration of mercury in sport fish from two sites in Wrangell-St. Elias and Lake Clark (Alaska) national parks exceeded EPA’s human health criterion. Additionally, mercury levels in individual sport fish at some sites from Lassen Volcanic (California), Mount Rainer (Washington), Rocky Mountain (Colorado), Yellowstone (Wyoming), and Yosemite (California) national parks also exceeded the human health criterion.

The National Park Service is currently coordinating with state officials regarding potential fish consumption advisories. Exposure to high levels of mercury in humans may cause damage to the brain, kidneys, and the developing fetus. Pregnant women and young children are particularly sensitive to the effects of mercury.

Mercury at elevated levels can also impact wildlife resulting in reduced foraging efficiency, survival, and reproductive success. Mercury concentrations exceeded the most conservative fish toxicity benchmark at 15 percent of all sites, and the most sensitive health benchmark for fish-eating birds at 52 percent of all sites.

For more information and to view the report, please click here.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Injured Climber Rescued During Spring Storm

The combined efforts of search and rescue teams from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Ouray Mountain Rescue, West Elk Mountain Rescue and Western State Mountain Rescue resulted in the successful evacuation of an injured climber from the Atlantis buttress during a spring storm this past Sunday.

Black Canyon park officials received a report of an injured climber on Saturday evening. Climbing rangers, including a park paramedic, located the climber late that evening and bivouacked overnight with him, treating his several injuries. The climber was injured when he pulled a large boulder off the wall while leading a pitch on a route called “Hotlanta” on the Atlantis buttress.

Additional technical rescue teams arrived on Sunday to help raise the climber 1,800 feet to the canyon’s North Rim. Intermittent whiteout conditions with heavy, wet snow and gusty winds challenged the rescuers during this high angle rescue.

The climber, who is from Durango, Colorado, was taken to a medical facility with ankle, chest, and facial injuries. He is in stable condition.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Scouts Donate Cookie Sale Profits to Rocky Mountain SAR Team

Each year, Loveland Girl Scout Brownie Troop 74394 chooses a local hero to receive donated boxes of Girl Scout cookies. This year, the troop chose Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue as their 2014 Hometown Heroes. Eighty-nine boxes of cookies were donated by citizens.

On April 3rd, Troop 74394 showed their special appreciation to all of the personnel at Rocky Mountain National Park involved with search and rescue efforts by providing a delicious spaghetti luncheon to say thank you.

The troop also sold over 2,200 boxes of cookies this year and donated 20% of its profits to Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue. During the luncheon, they presented a plaque honoring park search and rescue personnel for all of their dedicated service.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park Announces Special Hikes and Tours for 2014

Mesa Verde National Park is again offering a series of unique ranger-guided educational experiences in 2014. Tickets for these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at

Ranger-guided hikes and programs include a half-day hike into Upper Navajo Canyon, a 2-hour hike to Mug House, a half-day hike on Wetherill Mesa, and four tours of Yucca House National Monument. In addition, tickets for Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, which feature a historical figure from the past, and a new Photography Tour at Cliff Palace will be offered on-line. Check the website for more detailed descriptions of each program.

Mug House:

Named for three mugs tied together with yucca rope found hanging inside one of its rooms, Mug House was built over several decades in the A.D. 1100s and 1200s and likely supported a population of 80 to 100 people. This strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile (4.8km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 feet (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and scrambling up and down boulders. Mug House is available from May 27, 2014 to August 30, 2014 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Yucca House National Monument:

Four ranger-guided tours to Yucca House National Monument are offered this year. Yucca House is a large, unexcavated pueblo which was probably built around AD1200. Tours are scheduled on Wednesday, May 14 and Friday, May 16, and on Wednesday, September 10, and Friday, September 19. This easy to moderate 1-hour, 1/2-mile (0.8 km) walk is along a mostly level, unpaved path.Tickets cost$5 per person, and group size is limited.

Upper Navajo Canyon:

Enjoy the autumn weather and fall color as you hike this historic trail, built in the 1930s by the Public Works Administration. Hikers will view Pinkley House and other small alcove sites and experience two natural communities as they descend from the drier mesa top to the mountain chaparral in the canyon bottom. This moderate 4-hour, ~4-mile (6.4km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 760 feet (232 m) into upper Navajo Canyon, with steep drop-offs and switchbacks. This hike is offered Wednesdays and Sundays, from September 3 to October 5, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages. Group size is limited to 14 people.

Wetherill Mesa Experience:

Expansive canyon views, spectacular glimpses of cliff dwellings, and Wetherill Mesa in the autumn will reward hikers on this moderate 4-hour, 4-mile (6.4-km) round-trip hike. This moderate half-day hike follows an old fire road and an unpaved trail that crosses Wetherill Mesa. This hike is offered Tuesdays and Fridays, September 2 to October 3, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages, and group size is limited to 14 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 25 through September 4. Tickets cost $12 per person.

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 23 to September 6. Tours are limited to 10 people. Tickets are $20 per person.

Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects almost 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

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

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celebrate National Park Week 2014 With FREE Admission and Special Events

The National Park Service, in partnership with the National Park Foundation, recently announced that the nation’s 401 national parks will celebrate National Park Week April 19-27 with a free admission weekend and special events nationwide.

The theme for this year’s National Park Week invites visitors to “Go Wild” for history, nature, culture, wildlife, and fun in America’s national parks. Additional information, including a list of National Park Week events nationwide can be found online at

“National Park Week is a great time to discover the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history found in our national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Every park offers a different experience so I invite everyone to join the celebration and get to know a park. And, to get the party started, all national parks will have free admission on April 19 and 20.”

Using the resources on the National Park Week website, visitors can plan park experiences based on their specific interests. A calendar of events includes many special National Park Week programs, including National Junior Ranger Day activities on April 26. Young visitors can take part in family-friendly activities and be sworn in as junior rangers at many parks. Visitors using the website can also share national park photos, videos, and tips, and learn about all the ways to help support national parks all year.

National Park Week also offers many opportunities for the public to explore local parks, trails, and architectural gems sustained by National Park Service programs such as the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and theNational Register of Historic Places.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hiking a Classic: Mt. LeConte

The hike to Mt. LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail is one of the classic hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several trails in the park that are far longer, gain more elevation, and have steeper climbs, but the Alum Cave Trail is unmatched in its combination of interesting geological features, history, high adventure and stunning views. Below is a video highlighting many of the sights hikers will enjoy along the way. For more detailed information on this classic Smokies hike, please click here.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails