Monday, September 26, 2016 Adds Several New Hikes

Earlier this summer Kathy and I had the opportunity to do a little hiking during our visit to Wyoming. In addition to some hiking in Grand Teton National Park, we also did a few hikes atop Teton Pass. Prior to our visit to the Grand Tetons we also did some hiking in the Bighorn Mountains. As a result of this trip we have added seven new hikes to our newest hiking website, Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes from the Teton Pass area:

Mount Glory - is the southern-most peak in the Teton Range, and rises just north of Teton Pass. Without a doubt, it is the toughest one mile I've ever hiked. It's only one mile to the summit, but it's also a whopping 1655 feet of climbing (and suffering) to reach the top. Fortunately you'll be well rewarded with stunning panoramic views at the summit.

Coal Creek Meadows - out of the three trails we hiked near Teton Pass this was by far my favorite. The upper portions of Coal Creek Meadows are very beautiful. Moreover, we continued on for another half-mile beyond the typical stopping point, and made the short climb up to Coal-Mesquite Divide where we enjoyed outstanding views of the southern Teton Range, as well as Grand Teton itself in the far-off distance.

Black Canyon Overlook - this hike also begins from the top of Teton Pass, but travels south from the highway. This trail offers a plethora of wildflowers, as well as great views of Jackson Hole, Black Canyon and the Snake River Range.

All three hikes offer a degree of solitude when the summer crowds invade all of the popular trails in Grand Teton National Park.

As mentioned above, we also had a chance to do a little hiking in the Bighorn Mountains. We were able to add four hikes from this region, including Sherd Lake, Rainy Lake, Otter Lake and the Cloud Peak Wilderness Overlook. All four destinations pass through the Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Bighorn National Forest.

Designated by Congress in 1984, the Cloud Peak Wilderness protects more than 189,000 acres, including the highest peaks in the Bighorn National Forest: 13,167-foot Cloud Peak and 13,005-foot Black Tooth Mountain. The Bighorn National Forest is one of the oldest federally-protected forest lands in the United States. It provides habitat for elk, moose, mule deer, pronghorn, black bear and mountain lion, has over 1500 miles of trails, and protects more than 1.1 million acres.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CDOT: US 34 Outdoor Recreation During Construction Operations

Reconstruction of the U.S. 34 Big Thompson Canyon will require major rock blasting operations this fall and winter. CDOT realizes that this area is very popular for multiple recreational activities, as well as providing a travel corridor to Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding US Forest Service lands, but please remember that although this first phase of work does not include river work, for the next few years this area will be an active construction zone. Because of this, we are asking outdoor enthusiasts to take extra safety precautions. Please be advised that starting in mid-October 2016, the lower canyon stretch of US 34 will be closed to through public travel (mile points 76 - 80). Below we have outlined some safety reminders to help you navigate through construction while still enjoying your normal recreational activities in the canyon.

Prior to rock blasts, a loud horn will sound and it is strongly advised to stay out of this section of the canyon (mile points 76 - 80 - east of Drake).

Round Mountain Nature Trail, located near Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park west of Loveland, has already closed for the remainder of the year to allow for demolition and road construction work by CDOT occurring near the trail. The other trail that leads to the summit of Round Mountain, accessible from the same trailhead, will be closed beginning Oct. 17.

Because of significant road closures in the lower canyon, hikers wishing to access trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, or the surrounding forest lands, should plan on traveling to the Estes Park area via US 36 or Colorado Highway 7 from the Town of Lyons.

Because of road closures, heavy construction and blasting,the lower Big Thompson Canyon from Waltonia downstream should be avoided. Crews will sweep the river for recreationists prior to blasting, however, it is the responsibility of the user to stay out of the work areas.

Deer and Elk Hunters
Due to heavy blasting in the lower canyon, please refrain from hunting in portions of the Big Thompson US Highway 34 between Larimer County Road 29 (Carter Lake Road) and Larimer County Road 43 (the North Fork Road) in Game Management Unit 20. Road closures in this area will preclude public access including the Round Mountain Trailhead, making it difficult to travel in this area.

If you are hunting in this area, please make sure to sign up for project updates ( so that you know when the rock blasts will occur and listen for the loud horn. Hunters are strongly advised to avoid the area.

Travel restrictions and blasting near the stream sections of the Big Thompson Canyon at and below Drake, Colorado will make fishing in the lower canyon difficult and, and potentially unproductive due to all of the surrounding construction activity, therefore fishing between Larimer County Road 29 and the Waltonia bridge is being discouraged. Work within the river is not included in the first phase of work and fish will not be disturbed, however heavy traffic and blasting within the canyon does not create the serene mountain fishing experience that other areas may offer.

The upper Big Thompson River from Waltonia upstream to the Olympus Dam is largely intact and the fishing is equal to pre-flood conditions. We strongly suggest that anglers wanting to fish the Big Thompson do so in the upper section. Because of road closures in the lower canyon, access to the upper river is best from Estes Park downstream.

Because of the different construction areas and canyon closures, access to off-roading areas is not advised via the lower Big Thompson Canyon during construction. Multiple blasts a day are possible, and vehicles within the work area are at risk for rock damage. Access to the Storm Mountain area is available by Larimer County Road 43 from Estes Park.

Please be advised construction activities will be ongoing in the canyon over the next several years, with intense blasting operations happening October through May. It is strongly advised that recreational users avoid this area (mile points 76 - 80) and listen for the loud horn that will sound prior to blasts.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Lend a Hand on National Public Lands Day

On September 24th is your chance to be a part of the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Throughout the country about 200,000 people will participate in 2,500 National Public Lands Day events. As part of the celebration, national parks will waive entrance fees and host projects and programs that promote environmental stewardship.

"Whether a neighborhood park or a national park, public lands belong to all of us," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "They might vary in shape and size but they all exist for all of us. Join us on National Public Lands Day and help ensure that these special places can continue to be used for recreation and inspiration."

All 413 National Park Service sites will have free entrance on National Public Lands Day. Those who volunteer for a service project will receive a voucher that permits them into a national park for free on a different day.

Dozens of National Park Service sites will host events. Take part in spring cleaning in Yosemite National Park, repair a horse trail in Catoctin Mountain Park, preserve earthworks at Richmond National Battlefield Park, or restore the tall grass prairie at Pipestone National Monument.

Click here for some of the National Park Service sites hosting National Public Lands Day events later this month.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Public Input Requested On Alternatives For Management Of The Crater Trail In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is considering options for management of the Crater Trail, which originates near Milner Pass and extends to above tree line east of the Continental Divide. Park staff will be preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) and invites public input in advance of preparation of the EA. The Crater Trail in its current configuration is resulting in harm to park resources and is not sustainable from a trail construction and maintenance perspective. The public scoping process has begun and comments are invited through October 3, 2016. The EA will analyze a range of alternatives to meet project objectives, evaluate issues and impacts on park resources and values, and identify mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.

The Crater Trail is a one-mile-long trail on the east side of Specimen Mountain. It differs from other trails in the park in that it is an informal route that was not designed and constructed, but developed over time. As a result, the trail is steep and severely eroded in sections, impacting the alpine tundra and cultural resources. The trail is in designated wilderness and is part of the Specimen Mountain Research Natural Area. The trail is typically closed annually from May to August 15 during the bighorn lambing season. For the past two years, the Crater Trail has been closed year-round pending the outcome of the EA process.

Preliminary options that have been identified for management of the trail and surrounding area include reconstructing the trail within the current alignment, rerouting the trail to a less steep gradient, or permanently closing the trail. Also under consideration is allowing continued use of the current trail and implementing minor improvements within the limits of the existing trail maintenance program (the no action alternative). If the trail or segments of the trail were abandoned due to reroutes or closure, abandoned trail segments would be restored to natural conditions through active replanting or natural revegetation.

The park is hosting a meeting about the proposed project on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Lake Fire Protection District Station located at 201 W. Portal Road in Grand Lake. This will be an opportunity to express ideas, concerns, and recommendations about alternative actions and have questions answered. There will be a short presentation at 6:15 p.m., and park staff will be available to answer questions until 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to visit at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide written comments.

Park staff encourage public participation throughout the planning process. There will be two opportunities to comment formally on the project – one starting now during initial project scoping and again following release of the EA. Comments received during the scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the Environmental Assessment, while also assisting with analyzing the different alternatives.

Comments must be received in writing by close of business on October 3, 2016. Comments can be submitted at the public open house described above or online by visiting: Look for "Crater Trail."

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address: Superintendent, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, the park cannot guarantee they will be able to do so.


Monday, August 29, 2016

U.S. Forest Service Releases Draft Decision on Improved Trail System Near Nederland

The U.S. Forest Service has released its final environmental assessment and a draft decision for the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project.

More than 300 people participated in the comment process, submitting upwards of 1,300 comments about the project.

The draft decision would approve a 44-mile, non-motorized trail system across about 6,000 acres in Boulder and Gilpin counties in an area along the Peak to Peak Highway known as East Magnolia and West Magnolia. Currently there are only 16 miles of existing National Forest system trails in the area and about 46 miles of non-system or “user-created” trails.

“At the start of this project, we inventoried the trails in the area and discovered that there were all these user-created routes out there in addition to our system trails. Basically, on a map it looks like a spaghetti-bowl of unsustainable trails,” said Recreation Manager Matt Henry with the Boulder Ranger District.

“The goal is to turn that spaghetti bowl into a sustainable, non-motorized trail system that provides a better user experience that’s more in tune with what users are seeking,” Henry said. “We are hoping to do that by improving trail location, alignment and connectivity in a way that also minimizes the impacts to wildlife habitat.”

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 routes will be obliterated following this decision. Any additional user-created routes found during project implementation will be obliterated as well.

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 are also components of the draft decision.

The draft decision eliminates snowmobiles in the project area and restricts bikes and horses to designated trails. It also provides an opportunity for a special use permittee to groom non-motorized trails in winter for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking – a sport that has seen a remarkable increase in popularity since this project was initially proposed in 2012.

One key component of this draft decision is that it includes an adaptive management approach, which allows the U.S. Forest Service to make adjustments in the implementation of this project as needed.

“Our goal is to enhance the recreation experience for non-motorized users, which includes those on horseback, bicycle and foot,” Henry said. “As we go through the process of implementation, which could take 5 to 10 years, we might discover that there are better ideas for where to locate a trail or how to manage traffic flow. The adaptive management component of this decision will allow us to make those adjustments.”

The project will be implemented in phases by working with partners on both fundraising and implementation, starting on the West Magnolia side of the Peak to Peak Highway as outlined in the decision. Work on the Magnolia trails project where it overlaps with the proposed Forsythe II forest health project will be postponed until analysis is complete and the decision on that project is finalized.

The draft 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 a restaurant downtown.

Other regional trail connections outlined in the draft 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.

Those who previously provided written comments on the project now have until midnight on Oct. 11 to review the documents and submit written objections. The complete draft decision, final environmental analysis and information about the objection process are available online at


Friday, August 26, 2016

Vehicle Break Ins At Rocky Mountain National Park

On Sunday, August 21st, between 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. two vehicles were broken into at the east Alluvial Fan parking lot in Rocky Mountain National Park. Vehicle windows were broken and purses containing credit cards were stolen. Several of these credit cards were used in local area businesses immediately after the break in.

An image of a man purchasing a variety of camping equipment with these stolen credit cards was captured on video surveillance. Park rangers are working in conjunction with the Estes Park Police Department and Larimer County Sheriff's Office, since the fraudulent credit card activity took place outside the park.

Park rangers are seeking assistance from the public in identifying this person of interest. If you have information concerning this incident or this person of interest, please call the following recorded tip line at Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1290. If you wish, you can remain anonymous. Or call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.

When parking at trailheads in Rocky Mountain National Park please be alert for any suspicious activity and do not leave valuables in vehicles.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Colorado Parks Partners with DMNS to offer IMAX Tickets in Backpack Program

Beginning this week, families enjoying the Check Out Colorado State Parks Library Backpack program will find an extra perk in their packs. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has partnered with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to offer two complimentary museum/movie vouchers to use at the museum and/or IMAX movie National Parks Adventure 3D.

82 library locations in the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson) are receiving 24 museum/movie vouchers for distribution over the next 5 weeks. Any family that checks out the state park pass and backpack may use the vouchers at the museum and/or IMAX National Parks Adventure 3D, ending Sept. 22, or any of the other IMAX films.

“We thought adding to the CPW and State Library partnership would be a great way to celebrate the national parks centennial movie at the IMAX,” said Allison Lippiatt, Denver Museum of Nature & Science Marketing Specialist. “It also gives people an opportunity to continue to learn about the natural world around them by visiting the Museum after they’ve visited one of Colorado’s beautiful state parks.”

The Check Out Colorado State Parks Program is an initiative offering residents the ability to check out a hang-tag park pass and adventure backpack from their local library for entrance into any of Colorado’s 42 state parks. There are over 570 library locations in the program.

Based on user feedback to CPW, both the usage and patron experience of the Check Out Colorado State Parks program has been very positive this summer.

For more information go to: