Thursday, January 19, 2017

Take a Tour of Glacier National Park on an Historic Red Bus

Modern day visitors to Glacier National Park can step back in time by taking a tour of the park on one of the historic Red Buses. These historic open-air buses have been taking visitors through the park since 1936, and are widely considered to be the oldest fleet of touring vehicles anywhere. While the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road travels across precipitous cliffs and hair-pin turns, the Red Buses allow visitors to soak in Glacier's magnificent scenery - instead of worrying about having to keep their cars on the road.

In this short video below, Finley-Holiday Films gives you an idea of what it's like to cruise through the park in one of these wonderful old vehicles:

In addition to cruising the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the best ways to see Glacier National Park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park. Prospective visitors may also want to note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Forest Service finalizes Magnolia Trails decision

The U.S. Forest Service has released its final decision for the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project.

The decision finalizes all elements in the draft decision, including a 44-mile, non-motorized trail system across about 6,000 acres branching out from the Peak to Peak Highway in areas known as East Magnolia and West Magnolia. Currently there are about 60 miles of trail on the ground in that area, including 14 miles of National Forest system trails and about 46 miles of non-system or “user-created” trails.

The project includes building new trail, adding some user-created trails to the system and obliterating all other user-created routes. A total of 29 miles of user-created trails identified in the final decision will be obliterated following this decision, as well as any additional user-created routes found during project implementation.

“The decision allows the Forest Service to optimize trail experiences to meet user demand,” said district recreation manager Matt Henry. “As the Front Range population continues to increase, people are going to seek places to recreate. By providing a sustainable, accessible and well-connected trail system, we can get ahead of that trend, and better protect wildlife and the environment in the process.“

The decision allows for new signage to help keep visitors on the system trails; improved trailheads –including bathrooms and expanded parking at West Magnolia and Front Range trailheads – and facilities for horse trailers at West Magnolia Trailhead.

The decision eliminates snowmobiles in the project area and restricts bikes and horses to designated trails. It also provides an opportunity to groom non-motorized trails in winter for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking – a sport that has seen a remarkable increase in popularity in recent years.

The decision also facilitates access from the trail system to the community of Nederland through connecting trails that don’t currently exist, allowing trail users to easily visit businesses downtown.

Other regional trail connections outlined in the decision include connecting the Magnolia Trail System to the Toll Conservation Easement Trail to Jenny Creek Trail, which would allow non-motorized connection all the way to the Continental Divide on trails; and providing connectivity to Boulder County Open Space’s Reynolds Ranch as that trail system develops over time. However, this decision applies to management on National Forest lands only.

The Forest Service’s regional office reviewed 17 objection letters over the past month, which highlighted concerns over wildlife, law enforcement, camping, trash, monitoring, social trails and funding. The review team found that both the analysis and decision are consistent with Forest Service regulation, policy and law.

“I realize not all people will like all components of my decision,” said District Ranger Sylvia Clark. “This is why I have included a collaborative approach to trail layout in the design criteria, utilizing input from user groups, landowners and other agencies. In this way, we will be able to design great trails for recreation while taking into account landowner needs and wildlife concerns. Furthermore, an adaptive management approach written into the decision allows us to adjust the system based on social and environmental concerns as they arise in the future.”

The project will be implemented in phases over the next 5-10 years by working with partners on both fundraising and implementation, starting on the West Magnolia side of the Peak to Peak Highway.

The final decision, maps and final environmental assessment are available online at This web page will be updated as implementation progresses over the coming years.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lynx Made Famous on Facebook Found Dead at Purgatory

A lynx that was spotted walking across a ski slope two weeks ago at the Purgatory Ski Resort in southwest Colorado was found dead at the area on Sunday.

Purgatory ski patrol members found the animal on a ski slope on the west side of the resort in the Chairlift 8 area. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has retrieved the carcass and it will be sent to the agency’s lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy – the animal equivalent of an autopsy.

A video of the animal walking slowly across a ski run was viewed nearly a million times on social media.

CPW’s veterinarians will do a complete evaluation of the animal. It will include an examination of stomach contents, a check for parasites and injuries, an assessment of its internal organs, and blood tests. Results might not be known for a few weeks. A cursory examination of the carcass by wildlife managers in Durango showed the lynx to be emaciated.

The image of the animal sauntering calmly among skiers and snowboarders drew the attention of CPW biologists. Sightings of lynx are fairly common during the winter, said Scott Wait, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW’s southwest region. But after several Facebook videos appeared showing similar sightings of the animal he became concerned.

“The first time I saw it I wasn’t entirely surprised because we do get a lot of reports of lynx sightings,” Wait said. “But after I saw three more videos of the same animal behaving the same way in the same area I figured that something was wrong with the cat. Wild animals die of various causes just like people do.”

Two lynx, a mother and a kitten, were photographed on nearby Molas Pass a week before the sighting at the ski area. Those animals walked calmly along the road as a motorist took photographs.

“We don’t want people to think that a lynx is sick every time they see one,” Wait said. “Lynx are doing well in Colorado, but face the same challenges all wildlife does.”

In 1999, the Colorado Division of Wildlife started a lynx reintroduction program. A total of 218 lynx were transplanted from Canada and Alaska over the next seven years. Since then, multiple generations of lynx have been born. Surveys by CPW biologist show that the population of the large felines is stable.

At this point there's still no word as to whether the lynx is still in Purgatory, or has actually gone straight to Hell or Heaven....


Friday, January 6, 2017

Mesa Verde Offers Free Guided Hike January 21

Park Rangers will be leading a guided hike focusing on winter survival strategies used by the Ancestral Pueblo people at Mesa Verde on Saturday, January 21, beginning at 11 a.m. The guided hike is free, but advance sign-up is required. Children should be at least 7 years old to join the hike. Participants will meet at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and then take part in a guided walk of approximately 3/4 of a mile. Be prepared to be outdoors for 2 to 3 hours with extra layers of clothing and water. There is a limit of 20 people.

To sign up for the hike, for weather conditions, and for more information on the hike, please call the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at 970-529-4631. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is approximately a 45 minute drive from the park entrance.

More information and other upcoming hikes can be found at


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Programs At Rocky Mountain National Park

The holiday season is a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing and a variety of winter recreational activities to do on your own, fun activities with park rangers are also offered. Rocky Mountain National Park has a calendar full of fun family activities for the holidays.

On the east side of the park:

Winter Wonderland! – December 19 - January 1 at 10:30 a.m. daily
You are invited to read with a ranger and create your own winter art. Hear stories about the wonders of the winter season and create something beautiful in our family art center. Meet at Fall River Visitor Center (located on Highway 34) for this 45 minute program (visitor center closed December 25).

Wild in Winter – December 26 - January 1 drop in from 10 to 11 a.m. daily.
Meet Rocky’s wildlife! Come to this 30-minute program at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36) for a hands-on experience. Discover how the park’s wildlife adapts to the winter season.

Snowshoe Ecology Walks – December 28, 29 and January 4, 7 at 12:30 p.m.
Join a ranger for a beginner- level snowshoe tour exploring the natural world of a subalpine forest. Participants will need to bring their own snowshoes which can be rented at local sporting goods stores. Reservations are required and can be made beginning 7 days in advance; call (970) 586-1223. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

On the west side of the park:

Ski the Wilderness – December 31 at 9:30 a.m.
Join a ranger for this 1.5 hour cross-country ski tour of the Kawuneeche Valley. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 24, call (970) 627-3471. Participants must bring own skis and poles and be 8 years old and above.

Snowshoe in the Kawuneeche – December 31 at 1:00 p.m.
Join a ranger for a beginner-level snowshoe tour. Bring your own snowshoes and poles. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 24; call (970) 627-3471. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

Intermediate Snowshoe Walk: January 1 at 1:00 p.m.
Join a ranger for a more rigorous tour with elevation gains up to 500 feet. This tour requires the ability to maintain a good pace over uneven terrain at high altitude. Bring your own snowshoes and poles. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 26; call (970) 627-3471. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

On both the east and west side of the park:

“Spirit of the Mountains” Film
See the stunning park film at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36 west of Estes Park) and the Kawuneeche Visitor Center (located on Highway 34 north of Grand Lake).

Programs continue through the winter. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206, Monday through Saturday. All park visitor centers will be closed on December 25.

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this winter, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your trip planning.


January Winter Fest at Mesa Verde - Moonlight Snowshoe and Ski

Mesa Verde invites you to join us Friday, January 6, 2017 for a special moonlight event! The Morefield Campground winter trails will be open from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. This event is free and open to all ages.

Bring your skis or snowshoes and enjoy the trails by moonlight! Please be sure to dress for the cold, bring appropriate outdoor gear, and a headlamp or flashlight. Snowshoes will be available to checkout. Follow the glow sticks to find complementary hot beverages and the campfire. Rangers will also have telescope viewing (conditions permitting), and storytelling.

Morefield Campground is located four miles past the park entrance, on the right hand side. Parking will be at the Morefield Store. This event is subject to cancellation due to bad weather. Updates will be provided as needed on the park's Facebook page at


Sunday, December 18, 2016

U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes the National Park Service Centennial Act

Championed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the U.S. Senate passed the National Park Service Centennial Act, which will expand the Centennial Challenge, a public-private funding partnership, establish and fund a national parks endowment, and provide additional opportunities for young people and volunteers to serve in and learn from our parks. The act passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week.

In a prepared statement on their website, Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, said that “Our national parks safeguard our most significant places but face funding levels that are not adequate. Our park superintendents face tough decisions for distributing resources to maintain trails or repair historic buildings and are forced to cut youth education programs. Passage of this bill will help by advancing smart, effective initiatives that fund maintenance needs in our parks and enrich visitors’ experiences.”

The National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) will help address some of the $12 billion in needed repairs to park infrastructure, such as unmaintained trails and deteriorating buildings and structures that help tell America’s story but are in danger of falling apart. These delayed repairs hamper visitor access and enjoyment just when parks are experiencing record-breaking attendance as they celebrate their centennial year. The legislation would also help fund educational programs to better connect younger Americans to parks.

Funding for these national park needs would come in part from formally establishing and providing dedicated funding for the Centennial Challenge, a proven and successful public-private partnership that leverages federal funds with private dollars for visitor-oriented projects in our national parks. Another important funding component is the establishment of an endowment to provide a path toward the long-term fiscal health of our national parks.

There is a successful track record for leveraging private dollars when Congress commits to a federal match. Over the last two years, a federal investment of $25 million from appropriated dollars cultivated twice that amount in private donations. This money was used for such projects as improving visitor walkways in Yellowstone and making critical repairs to the Old State House in Boston.

Other policy provisions provide clear authority to the National Park Service for better interpretation and education programs, offer additional opportunities for young people and veterans by expanding the Public Land Corps, and allow for extra funding support for volunteer programs.

Pierno also said that “One initiative is the Centennial Challenge Fund, a proven public-private partnership that uses federal funding to leverage private dollars for our national parks. Also, the bill establishes an endowment to build long-term funding support for our parks as they start their next 100 years. As the Park Service concludes its centennial year, there has never been a better time for Congress to help restore America’s national treasures. We hope the new administration and the next Congress continue this progress of better funding our national parks and directly addressing its $12 billion infrastructure repair backlog.”