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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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 HikingintheSmokys.com, HikinginGlacier.com and RockyMountainHikingTrails.com 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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

U.S. Forest Service releases 2015 dates for fee-free days at most of the agencies’ day-use recreation sites

The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites several times in 2015, beginning with Jan. 19, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“These fee-free days are our way of thanking our millions of visitors but also to encourage more people to visit these great public lands,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “These lands belong to all Americans, and we encourage everyone to open the door to the great outdoors.”

No fees are charged at any time on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Check with your local forest or grassland or on Recreation.gov(link is external) to see if your destination charges a fee. Fees are used to help cover the cost of safe, clean facilities. Use the Forest Service map to find a national forest or grassland near you.

The 2015 scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are:

• Jan. 19: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the legacy of the civil rights leader and encourages Americans to participate in the MLK Day of Service

• Feb. 16: Presidents Day, honoring our nation’s Presidents with particular attention towards commemorating President Washington and President Lincoln.

• June 13: National Get Outdoors Day, a day when federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry encourages healthy, outdoor activities.

• Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands

• Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day, commemorates the end of World War I and pays tribute to all military heroes past and present.

Agency units plan their own events. Contact your local forest or grassland for more information. The last fee-free period for 2014 is Nov. 8-11 in honor of Veteran’s Day.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, October 6, 2014

National Park Service Announces Free Admission on Nine Days in 2015

There are nine more reasons to enjoy national parks next year! The National Park Service will be offering free admission to every visitor on nine days in 2015. The 2015 entrance fee-free days are:

* January 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
* February 14-16: Presidents Day weekend
* April 18 & 19: National Park Week’s opening weekend
* August 25: National Park Service’s 99th birthday
* September 26: National Public Lands Day
* November 11: Veterans Day

“Every day is a great day in a national park, and these entrance fee free days offer an extra incentive to visit one of these amazing places,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “As we prepare to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016, we are inviting all Americans to discover the beauty and history that lives in our national parks.”

A national park may be closer to home than you think. National Park Service sites are located in every state and in many major cities, including New York City which is home to ten national parks. They are places of recreation and inspiration and they are also powerful economic engines for local communities. Throughout the country, visitors to national parks spent $26.5 billion and supported almost 240,000 jobs in 2013.

Generally, 133 of the 401 National Park Service have entrance fees that range from $3 to $25. While entrance fees will be waived for the fee free days, amenity and user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours will still be in effect.

Other Federal land management agencies that will offer their own fee-free days in 2015 are: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. Please contact each for dates and details.

The National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service also participate in the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass and Federal Recreational Lands Pass programs. These passes provide access to more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, grasslands, and other federal lands. Four passes are available:

* free annual pass to current military members and their dependents
* free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens with permanent disabilities
* $10 lifetime senior pass for U.S. citizens aged 62 and over
* $80 annual pass for the general public.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com