Thursday, February 28, 2013

Arapaho National Forest Officials Warn Snowmobilers About Boundaries

Sulphur Ranger District officials would like to remind snowmobilers that their machines, like all motorized equipment, are prohibited in wilderness areas. On the Arapaho National Forest, wilderness areas include Byers Peak, Vasquez Peak, Indian Peaks and Never Summer.

To protect its research, the Fraser Experimental Forest also does not allow snowmobile use.

“This winter we have had occurrences of snowmobiles entering both wilderness areas and the Fraser Experimental Forest,” said Brad Orr, recreation staff for the Sulphur Ranger District. “We make an effort to inform riders but, ultimately, it is their responsibility to know where they are and to avoid taking their machines into designated wilderness areas and the Fraser Experimental Forest.”

Some snowmobilers either have chosen to ignore the boundary signs or aren’t aware of where they are riding and are unintentionally entering wilderness areas and the Fraser Experimental Forest. Violations for possessing or operating a snowmobile in a prohibited area are punishable by fines of up to $5,000, six months in jail and the forfeiture of snowmobiles and other items involved.

“Fortunately, there are many excellent areas for snowmobiling on the Sulphur Ranger District,” Orr added. These include the Grand Lake Trail System which can be accessed from County Road 4, the Church Park area that can be accessed off County Road 50 by parking at the Crooked Creek parking area and many trails accessed by parking at the Elk Creek Parking Area located off County Road 73 near the Town of Fraser.

Snowmobiling is a very popular activity on the National Forest that attracts visitors from across the country and provides economic support to many local communities. Sulphur Ranger District provides more than 200 miles of designated snowmobile routes and thousands of acres of off-trail areas for snowmobilers to enjoy.

Snowmobile use maps are available at the Forest Service office in Granby and online.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Photographic Tour of Glacier National Park

Here's a video I published for our Hiking in Glacier National Park website last year. It highlights scenes from all over the park. Hope you enjoy:

For more information, please visit:


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park Visitors Add $196 Million to Local Economies

As the National Park Service moves closer to its second century, one of the key indicators of how parks are doing, and how the NPS is fulfilling its mission, is the economic impact that national parks have on America’s economy. According to a report compiled by Michigan State University, every dollar spent by the National Park Service, through Congressional appropriations, results in a $10 benefit to the national economy.

Using data gathered from parks and public data, economists at Michigan State examined the impacts visitor spending has on the local economy in terms of sales, income, and jobs in a report published yesterday called Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation, 2011. The information contained in this report will be used for planning, concessions management, budget justifications, policy analysis, and marketing.

According to the report, the National Park System received 278.9 million recreation visits in 2011, while park visitors spent $12.95 billion in local gateway regions (defined as within roughly 60 miles of a park). In total, park visitor spending supported 252,000 (mostly) local jobs.

The four local economic sectors most directly affected by visitor spending are lodging, restaurants, retail trade, and recreation and entertainment. Spending from these sources supported 45,200 jobs in restaurants and bars, 34,100 jobs in lodging sectors, 15,500 jobs in the retail and wholesale trade, and 20,000 jobs in recreation and entertainment.

Visitors staying overnight outside the park (in motels, hotels, cabins, and bed & breakfasts) accounted for 54.9% of the total spending. About half (48%) of the spending was for lodging and meals, 21.4% for gas and local transportation, 9.7% for recreation and entertainment, 8.1% for groceries, and 12.7% for other retail purchases.

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park spent roughly $196,127,000 in the surrounding communities in 2011. This spending added 2,742 jobs to local communities. For comparison purposes, here's a look at the amount of money spent, and the jobs generated for some of the other national parks and monuments in Colorado:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: $8,436,000 (total spending) | 106 jobs

Colorado National Monument: $23,251,000 (total spending) | 295 jobs

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve: $10,770,000 (total spending) | 134 jobs

Mesa Verde National Park: $43,382,000 (total spending) | 551 jobs

Dinosaur National Monument: $7,671,000 (total spending) | 92 jobs

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument: $3,245,000 (total spending) | 39 jobs

To view the entire NPS report, please click here.


Rocky Mountain seeks volunteers for upcoming summer positions

Rocky Mountain National Park is currently seeking volunteers to fill a variety of roles during the busy summer season. Right now there are several volunteer positions available, including Bear Lake Trailmaster, Holzwarth Historic Site Interpreter, visitor center volunteers and campground hosts, among other positions.

To see the full list of available positions, as well as to apply, please click here.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

U.S. Forest Service Planning Slash Pile Burning in Lake & Chaffee Counties

The U.S. Forest Service - Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts, are planning prescribed burn projects in Chaffee and Lake Counties. The projects involve burning slash piles which are scheduled to begin in late February and continue through May 2013. Weather and wind conditions may affect the dates for ignition.

Fire personnel will monitor conditions to determine if ignition should take place. Smoke will be present for several days after the project begins and fire personnel will continue to monitor piles until they have been declared out.

The most effective method for removing slash piles is by igniting the pile when weather and conditions are conducive for burning, yet surrounding vegetation is less likely to spread fire from airborne sparks. The slash piles consist of woody debris from thinning projects which removed hazardous fuels on U.S. Forest Service lands. Burning these piles will further reduce the hazardous fuel buildup in these areas. The majority of the slash piles will be burned with snow present.

The general areas selected to be burned may include:

Chaffee County:
* Four Elk Creek, west of Heckendorf State Wildlife area.

Lake County:
* South and West of Mount Elbert Forebay Reservoir.
* North of Leadville east of Hwy 24.

More information is available by calling the Salida Ranger District at 719-539-3591 or Leadville Ranger District at 719-486-0749.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rocky Mountain Nature Association announces purchase of the Johnson Property Inholding

Late last year the Rocky Mountain Nature Association announced that it was making a final fund-raising push to add an inholding tract of land to Rocky Mountain National Park. The organization needed to raise $400,000 by February 1st in order to purchase the Johnson Property, a 3.89-acre tract of land on the west side of the park.

Yesterday, the RMNA posted this blurb on their Facebook page:
You did it!!! We are pleased to announce that we have completed fundraising for the Johnson Property Acquisition! $400K was donated by over 900 people (THANK YOU!), and we have purchased the property. Congratulations to everyone involved--we knew we could count on you. RMNP will soon be larger by 3.89 acres!!!


Urban Downhill Mountain Biking Race

Check-out this hair-raising mountain bike descent through the narrow streets of Taxco, Mexico. This insane footage is from Down Hill Taxco 2012, and shows race winner Brendan Fairclough from a camera mounted on the helmet of a rider who trails him as he plunges down the streets and alleys of the small mountain town. Enjoy!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Hikers Charged With Child Abuse

Wow, what can you say about this one? This is almost beyond incredulity. I saw this story on NPS Digest this morning:

In October 2012 a couple attempted to hike with their eight-month-old daughter from the rim of the Grand Canyon, down to the Colorado River, and back to the top of the rim - in one day – a hike strongly discouraged by the NPS. They were unprepared for the hike and resorted to eating the baby’s food along the way. On the hike out of the canyon they could no longer carry the baby due to exhaustion, so gave the child to another hiker - who was a stranger but had offered to help. When the hiker reached the South Rim – without the family – he immediately went to the Bright Angel Lodge and requested law enforcement assistance.

Upon reaching the rim, the family of three flagged down a shuttle bus and reported that their baby had been kidnapped. Rangers responded and called for assistance from the Investigative Services Branch. A joint investigation was conducted by rangers from the South Rim and Canyon Districts, ISB agents, and personnel from Arizona Child Protective Services. The baby was placed in the protective care of CPS and each parent was charged with a felony count of child abuse, and recklessly placing a child in a position where its health was endangered.

Both parents ultimately pled guilty in court to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3619, permitting life, health, or morals of minor to be imperiled by neglect, abuse, or immoral associations – a Class 1 misdemeanor.

In related news, an Indiana man was recently convicted of child abuse for forcing his three grandchildren (ages 8, 9 and 12) to take a grueling 19-mile hike along the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon in 2011.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Survival Skills at Englewood REI

Next month, on March 4th, the REI in Englewood will be offering a free presentation on Winter Survival Skills, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Whether you're an experienced winter camping guru, backcountry snowboarder or skier, casual snowshoer, or a beginner, this winter survival clinic could save your life. During the clinic you will participate in an interactive survival scenario, learn about winter survival priorities, tips, strategies, and techniques, learn how to make basic snow shelters, and learn to make a personal survival kit. The clinic will be presented by the Cottonwood Institute, an educational nonprofit that inspires students to change the world through an exciting blend of adventure, wilderness survival, and environmental service. Voluntary donations will be used to help underwrite their educational programs at public schools in the Boulder/Denver area.

For more information on the clinic, and to register, please click here.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

National Parks, Sequestration and Scare Tactics

The latest dire warnings from politicians, news media outlets, pundits and special interest groups are currently focused on an inside-the-beltway term known as sequestration.

Sequestration refers to the across-the-board budget cuts that will take effect on March 1st - unless an agreement on deficit reduction can be reached beforehand. This "gimmick" was agreed upon by both the president and congress several months ago in order to force both sides to come to some agreement on spending reductions.

This blog posting will focus on the impact sequestration will have on national parks. Most importantly, it will focus on a leaked memo from National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, which makes very little sense from my perch.

First off, let me show three graphs to help explain where we are, and where we've come from in terms of spending. The first graph shows total federal spending since 1999. The analysis begins with this year because 1999 was the first year I could find NPS budget figures. For all three graphs 2013 figures are current estimates. The following federal spending data comes from the Whitehouse website, and the figures quoted are in trillions:

As you can see, spending at the federal level has risen sharply over the last several years. However, increases in spending on national parks have been relatively modest. In fact, the National Park Service budget has seen small declines every year since 2010. The following graph shows the total NPS budget authority, which was compiled using data from the NPS Budget History, and the NPS Green Book. The numbers quoted here are in billions:

To look at this data a little differently, here's a chart showing total NPS budget authority as a percentage of total federal spending. As you can see, the NPS share of the overall pie has been getting smaller over the last decade (which simply means the rest of the federal government is growing much faster than the NPS budget):

Late last month the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees published a leaked memo from National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, which stated that the NPS should assume a 5% decrease in the 2013 budget as a result of the impending sequestration. I find this figure to be a little curious. The sequestration calls for a cut of $85 billion to the 2013 federal budget, which amounts to only a 2.24% decrease in the overall federal budget.

Moreover, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, only $44 billion would actually be cut out of the 2013 budget. This is due to the sequestration taking effect on March 1st, which is already 5 months into the federal fiscal year which began on October 1st. This means only 1.16% of the 2013 budget is scheduled to be cut if sequestration goes into effect.

So why is Jarvis stating that 5% needs to be cut from the NPS budget? Or, why would the president decide to cut NPS funding at a higher rate than the rest of the budget? 

A budget cut of 1.16% would reduce the National Park Service budget from $2.97 billion, down to $2.94 billion. A cut of 2.24% would reduce the NPS budget down to $2.90 billion. Even if we were to assume that the NPS Director is correct (which I don't), a cut of 5% would draw the NPS budget down to $2.82 billion - which is still higher than the amount that the NPS spent in 2008, or any year before that.

So when I see headlines from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees that reads "Sequestration Budget Cuts Would Turn National Parks Into Ghost Towns", or from the National Parks Conservation Association; "Proof Positive: Our National Parks Are in Peril", I can't help but be a little skeptical.

Then, when I read things like "all national parks should be prepared for reduced hours and fewer services", or "NPS said cuts could include closing of campgrounds and hiking trails. Interpretive programs could also be curtailed" or "If these cuts go into effect, it appears they will harm every one of the 398 parks and monuments in the system as well as park rangers, tourism-dependent businesses and communities, and the millions of Americans who rely on national parks for affordable vacations", I can't help but conclude that these organizations and news media outlets are simply using scare tactics to get cash-strapped Americans to pony up more tax dollars.

I'm calling BS on all this. Certainly there are many smart people in NPS management that can figure how to operate off the same amount of money they were receiving just a couple of years ago. And, for that matter, the same goes for all the other agencies and programs in Washington DC, whose special interest groups are likely using the same scare tactics.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Grants to Improve Access to Rocky Mountain National Park

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced yesterday $12.5 million in grants for 29 projects in 20 states to improve access to America’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. The selected projects will help reduce traffic congestion and make it easier for millions of visitors to enjoy the nation’s scenic Federal lands. The funds are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program, which awarded $40.8 million for similar projects in January 2012.

Secretary LaHood, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff traveled to Commerce City, Colorado to announce a $1,735,000 grant to expand the Rocky Mountain Greenway, a pedestrian and bicycle trail system that will connect the Denver metropolitan area’s trail systems, three National Wildlife Refuges in the region, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Two other projects in the Rocky Mountain National Park / Estes Park area will also be receiving funds:

* The Town of Estes Park will receive $337,000 to expand the Fall River Multi-Use Trail System along 2.5 miles adjacent to U.S. Highway 34, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to Rocky Mountain National Park and creating a seamless trail between the Estes Park Visitor Center and the park entrance. The trail is expected to reduce the number of auto trips to the park by 4,200 each year and improve safety for visitors by separating motorized and non-motorized access to the park.

* The Town of Estes Park will receive $3,000,000 towards construction of a 300-space multilevel transit parking structure, two bus bays to support transit services between the Town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, and for a real-time bus arrival information system. Funds will also be used for the final design of a transportation hub at the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

The funds announced yesterday are part of $80 million distributed to 134 Transit in the Parks projects across the country over the last three years. This grant program was not reauthorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) which was passed by Congress last year. Going forward, public transportation projects serving national parks and other federal lands remain eligible for funding under the Federal Lands Transportation Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

A map and a complete list of projects can be found here.


Mesa Verde National Park Winter Fun Festival

Mesa Verde National Park is inviting the public to participate in the first ever, all ages, three-mile Nordic Fun Race on the Meadow Bliss Trail on Saturday, February 23rd. Classic skiers and skate skiers are welcome. Come out and enjoy some lighthearted competition in the Morefield Campground area. Registration starts at 10:00 a.m. and the race will begin at 11:00 a.m. There will be random prize drawings with prizes donated by the Mesa Verde Museum Association, Slavens Hardware, and Osprey Packs.

During and after the race, join a park ranger for a hands-on primitive skills demonstration including: bow drill fire starting, atlatl usage, and yucca cord making. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase during and after the race.

This is also a great opportunity to explore Mesa Verde's Morefield Campground and Meadow Bliss Trails in the moonlight. Trails will be open for self-guided skiing or snowshoeing from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Bring a hot or cold dish for an ongoing potluck dinner throughout the evening. Outlets will be available to plug in your crockpots. Complimentary hot beverages and cookies will also be provided.

Parking for the events will be at the winter activities parking lot in the Morefield Campground Village, just four miles past the park's entrance station.

A limited number of adult and child snowshoes will be available for checkout during the events. Activities are subject to cancellation due to weather or road conditions. Please call 970-529-4461 for more information.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service Announce Results of 2012 Aerial Forest Health Survey

Last week the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey in Colorado. The report indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic expanded by 31,000 acres, down from last year’s reported increase of 140,000 acres. This brings the total infestation to nearly 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996. Most mature lodgepole pine trees have now been depleted within the initial mountain pine beetle epidemic area. However, the infestation remains active from Estes Park to Leadville.

In contrast, the spruce beetle outbreak is expanding, with 183,000 new acres detected in 2012, bringing the total acreage affected since 1996 to nearly 1 million acres (924,000). The areas experiencing the most significant activity are on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southern Colorado. Spruce beetles typically attack spruce trees downed by high winds. Once the populations of spruce beetles build up in the fallen trees, the stressed trees surrounding them offer little resistance to attack. Similar to mountain pine beetle, the increase in spruce beetle activity is due to factors that increase tree stress, including densely stocked stands, ongoing drought conditions and warmer winters.

In late 2012, two 10-year stewardship contracts were awarded by the U.S. Forest Service to improve forest resiliency on 20,000 acres affected by the mountain pine beetle on the Medicine Bow-Routt and White River National Forests. These contracts are in addition to the Front Range and Pagosa Springs Long-Term Stewardship Contracts awarded previously. The contracts reduce forest health treatment costs and foster new uses of beetle-killed forest products to benefit forest resiliency and jobs.

The forest products industry is better positioned as mills come on line to take advantage of trees being removed from forested lands across Colorado. The U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service and partners are working to provide a reliable and predictable supply of biomass for new markets.

“Over the past several years, the Forest Service has worked with local, state and private partners to increase our collective ability to improve forest health and reduce wildland fire and public safety risks,” said Dan Jir√≥n, Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.. “From encouraging biomass projects, to aggressively treating beetle-killed trees near communities, and partnering to protect water resources, the Forest Service is working to efficiently fund projects to treat as many priority forested acres as possible.”

Through the passage of legislation in recent years, the Colorado General Assembly has supported forest management actions that demonstrate community-based approaches to forest restoration and watershed health. The Colorado Forest Restoration Pilot Grant Program is a cost-share program that provides funding for up to 60 percent of the total cost for projects. To date, more than $4.7 million in state funds and another $1 million in leveraged federal funds have been awarded to 86 projects across the State. Those funds additionally leveraged more than $8 million in matching funds to restore more than 12,000 acres of forest. In addition, the 17 projects currently in progress will result in treatments on another 1,200 acres.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Officials: Wilderness is Off-Limits to Snowmobiles

Routt National Forest officials would like to remind snowmobilers that their machines, like all motorized equipment, are illegal in wilderness areas.

The 1964 Wilderness Act set aside wilderness as places to enjoy primitive adventure and solitude, as refuges from the sights and sounds of the mechanized world. Locally, recreationists can enjoy many forms of non-motorized activities in the Mount Zirkel, Sarvis Creek and Flat Tops Wilderness Areas.

“Every winter, there are a lot of snowmobilers trespassing into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, especially just north of Buffalo Pass,” said Kent Foster, Recreation Staff for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District. There are boundary signs in problem areas, and maps at winter trailheads, showing areas closed to snowmobiles. “We make the effort to inform riders but ultimately, it is their responsibility to know where they are and to avoid taking their machines into the wilderness,” Foster said.

Some have unfortunately chosen to ignore the signs. Last weekend the Forest Service ticketed six people for riding in the wilderness, with a total collateral fee of over $3,000. The minimum fine for riding snowmobiles in wilderness is $525; however, violations are punishable by fines of up to $5,000, six months in jail and the forfeiture of snowmobiles and other items involved.

Snowmobiling is a very popular activity in northern Colorado that attracts visitors from across the country and provides economic support to many local communities. The Routt National Forest provides around 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and hundreds of thousands of acres of off-trail areas on each of its three ranger districts for snowmobilers to enjoy.

For information or maps about winter recreation opportunities, please contact the Forest Service offices in Steamboat Springs at (970) 870-2299, Walden at (970) 723-8204, or Yampa at (970) 638-4516. Information is available at


Friday, February 15, 2013

Canyon Lakes Ranger District Closure Updates

The Bellaire Campground, located on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District south of Red Feather Lakes, remains closed for the season, but walk-in access to the lake will open Saturday.

The area has been closed since fall due to hazard tree cutting. Approximately 4,500 trees were cut to improve safety in the campground/day-use area and along the access road. Officials from the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests are warning visitors to be aware that some slash debris and stumps are present, so use caution.

The closure covered the campground, the road into the campground, the day-use area, land around the lake and an area northeast of the campground on the east side of the Manhattan Road. This area included the Manhattan dispersed campsites 1-5. These dispersed sites have also reopened.

As a reminder, there is still a closure in place for portions of the High Park Fire burn area. This closure includes Young Gulch Trail. It is important for visitors to respect these closures and obey all signs for your safety. Work on Young Gulch is expected to continue throughout the summer to address safety concerns in this burn area.

For other information regarding recreating on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District this fall, please call the Visitor Information Center at 970-295-6700.


Grand Lake motel to appear on Hotel Impossible next month

The Western Riviera Motel in Grand Lake will be the focus on an episode of Hotel Impossible next month. The episode will appear on the Travel Channel on March 25th at 10:00 p.m. EST / 8:00 p.m. MST.

Last week the star and host of Hotel Impossible, Anthony Melchiorri, and designer, Blanche Garcia, spent several days in Grand Lake filming the final episode of Season 2 at Western Riviera with owners Mike and Jackie Tompkins. Anthony told Sky-Hi News that Grand Lake is "the most beautiful place he’s ever been". He went on to also say:
“I was blown away. Grand Lake is a piece of art. Every single time you turn around there is either frozen lake with a beautiful cloud over it, or there's a part of the lake that's not frozen with a sun over it, or there's a mountain by itself or a formation of mountains. I've not seen the same landscape since I've been here.

“And then you take this beautiful town of Grand Lake that looks like the back lot of a Hollywood studio and you incorporate that with just beautiful open-hearted people that know each other - it's my favorite place, and it is the most beautiful place I've ever been. And I thought Alaska and Hawaii would be tops, and this surprised me.

“I'd rather come here in the winter rather than the summer,” he continued. “In the summer you can get a lot of this stuff in other places. You can get the beautiful landscape, you can get the lake, but in the winter I imagine this place is even more beautiful. It's atypical of most places.”
As a fan of Hotel Impossible, my wife and I are definitely excited to see this episode.

We're also proud to mention that the Western Riviera Motel is one of our advertisers on the accommodations page of our website.


New National Water Trails System Website Rolled Out

Outdoor recreationalists can now experience the new National Water Trails System through a brand new interactive website that connects users to rivers and waterways through stories and tools.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the new National Water Trails System in February 2012, with the objective of creating a national network of exemplary water trails that are cooperatively supported and sustained. Nine National Water Trails have been designated across the United States.

The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program and the Denver Service Center are continuing work on "Call to Action" item 12, "Follow the Flow," by partnering to develop the new website, which will improve communication with current and potential water trail managers and with recreational trail users.

Water trail managers can apply for designation through an easy online application, and visitors can learn more about designated trails through a photo gallery, dynamic stories, and videos. An interactive map and new search functions make it easy for users to find national water trails throughout the country.

You can visit the new website at


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Senators Reintroduce Measure to Transfer Valles Caldera to the National Park Service

Earlier this week U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich reintroduced legislation to transfer the management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service (NPS).

Udall and retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman first introduced this legislation in 2010 in light of inconsistent funding, the need for infrastructure improvements and concerns that the Preserve would not achieve financial self-sustainability by 2015, as directed by the Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000.

"Millions of years in the making, the Valles Caldera is a natural wonder, rich in geology, ecology and culture," said Udall. "With its vast grass-filled valleys, forested hillsides and numerous volcanic peaks, the caldera means a great deal to the surrounding communities and tribes. Incorporating this landscape into the National Park Service will preserve its resources and allow for public enjoyment by future generations. Additionally, I want to applaud the years of work that the Board of Trustees and Preserve employees have invested in caring for this unmatched natural resource."

A study requested by Udall and Bingaman in 2009 determined that the Valles Caldera met the high criteria for inclusion in the NPS, noting its significant national value and unique, unaltered geology. The bill directs the NPS to take over management in a way that protects the Preserve's natural and cultural resources. Hunting, fishing and cattle grazing would continue to be permitted under the legislation. Additionally, the measure strengthens protections for tribal cultural and religious sites and ensures local tribes access to the area.

The first calls to bring the Valles Caldera into the NPS were in 1899. In four separate studies throughout the next century the Park Service found that the area was suitable for protective status under its management.

It wasn't until 2000 that Bingaman, retired Sen. Pete Domenici and then-Rep. Udall were successful in passing legislation to acquire the property for $100 million. The law established an experimental management framework where a Board of Trustees would manage the Preserve as a working ranch with public access, with the goal of becoming financially self-sustaining by 2015.

I can personally attest to the extreme beauty of the Valles Caldera. A few years ago my wife and I hiked the Cerro Grande Route, which takes hikers to the top of 10,199-foot Cerro Grande Peak. If you ever visit Bandelier National Monument, or are in the Santa Fe area, I highly recommend this hike.


New Cub Lake Trailhead Access Proposal

This information is a little late, but is late as a result of the news not being announced, for whatever reason, on the Rocky Mountain National Park website, or in a press release.

The park is proposing to change access to the small Cub Lake Trailhead located on the south side of Moraine Park. This should not be confused with the main Cub Lake Trailhead on Fern Lake Road. Rather, this proposal is concerned with access to the South Lateral Moraine Trail. The proposal is to convert the last quarter-mile of the road into a trail, and to provide a new six space parking area further east. The road will remain open to the small pump house structure located on the north side of the road.

Below is a map of the effected area. You can click here for a larger version.

The park is proposing the changes because a significant amount of tree removal is required along the last quarter-mile of road if it is to remain open to vehicles. Numerous "hazard" trees line both sides of the road and threaten to block the road if they fall. Tree removal to preserve the road would alter the character of the area. If the road reverts to a trail, trees would be managed in the same manner as along other trails in the park.

The proposed parking area would be located on the north side of the access road. It would have a gravel surface and would accommodate up to six vehicles.

Unfortunately the comment period for the proposed changes ended in January. A decision on whether to proceed with this project will be made sometime this month. If you have questions about the proposal you can contact Larry Gamble, Chief of Planning for the park, at (970) 586-1320.


Tip: Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest Campgrounds Fill Quickly

Now is the time to start thinking about reservations for the 2013 camping season - - that is the tip currently being offered by the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Campgrounds on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) fill quickly during the camping season. As the Colorado population grows, finding a weekend or holiday campsite is becoming more difficult. Here are some tips to help you secure your favorite site:

* Choose a campground that accepts reservations – some have both first come first serve and reservable sites. Other campgrounds accept reservations for all their sites. Determine if reservations are offered by checking the ARP Campground Table.

* Reserve early – up to six months in advance – at or call 1-877-444-6777. If you are trying to reserve longer than 180 days in advance the website will indicate that space is not available.

* Reservation policies summarize when you can make a reservation, call center hours, methods of payments, cancellation and refund policies and how to use your Interagency Senior or Access Pass. Read more about Interagency Passes on the ARP website.

ARP Visitor Information Specialists will be happy to answer your questions about finding your place under the stars! They are familiar with the campground you may be considering. You can find their numbers on the ARP Offices Page.


If you're also planning a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, be sure to visit our trail website for help with all your hiking plans, as well as your accommodations and help with other things to do while in the area.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Investigators Seek Information on the Alexander Fire in the Big Thompson Canyon

The Alexander Fire that burned 1.1 acres on Alexander Mountain in the Big Thompson Canyon before being contained on February 8th, was caused by an escaped campfire.

Firefighters declared the fire to be controlled on February 9th, and continue to check the fire.

Anyone who was in the area last week or has information related to this fire is asked to contact Terry Baxter, U.S. Forest Service Fire Investigator, at 970-295-6719.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Public Meeting Scheduled on Potential Multiuse Trail System

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is preparing a Multiuse Trail Plan with an accompanying Environmental Assessment (EA). RMNP completed a Multiuse Trail Feasibility Study in 2009, for the developed eastern portion of the park. This study confirmed the feasibility of a trail system that would extend approximately 15.5 miles from the Fall River Entrance to Sprague Lake, with potential connections to three visitor centers, three campgrounds, and numerous hiker shuttle stops. The National Park Service is continuing the planning process with the development of a Multiuse Trail Plan/EA, which will examine the possible options for the multiuse trail alignments and analyze potential environmental impacts.

The purpose of this plan/EA is to develop alternatives for a multiuse trail system to connect with trails that are being developed in the Estes Valley, to reduce traffic congestion, and to evaluate multimodal options (including connections to the shuttle system) along the developed corridor of roads on the east side of the park. The trail, if constructed, would be located outside designated wilderness. Multiuse in a national park setting is defined as non-motorized, self-propelled transportation, which may include bicycle, foot, baby stroller, roller blade, snowshoe, and/or cross-country skiing.

A public scoping meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, from 4:45 PM to 6:15 PM at the Hondius Room of the Estes Valley Public Library, located at 335 East Elkhorn Avenue, in Estes Park. Information will be provided about the current status of this effort, and park staff will be available to answer questions. There will be a short presentation at 5:00 PM. However, the public is invited to join the meeting at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide comments.

The park is inviting public comments regarding potential issues and concerns that should be considered during the planning process. Comments must be in writing, and can be submitted at the meeting, by mail, or on-line. Comments are due by March 21, 2013.

Before including an address, phone number, email 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. While you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Comments may be made on-line at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Although the preferred method is through the PEPC site, comments may be submitted in several ways:

By mail: Superintendent, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO 80517

By fax: (970) 586-1397

By email:

Hand-deliver: Rocky Mountain National Park Headquarters, 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, Colorado.

Once the scoping period concludes, all comments submitted will be considered. Another public meeting will be held when additional information is available on the alternatives that will be analyzed in the plan/EA. The public, agencies, and other interested parties will also have an opportunity to review and comment on the plan/EA following its release to the public.

For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at (970)586-1206.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Rocky Mountain NPS Visitor Services Study

The Park Studies Unit of the National Park Service Social Science Division is in charge of conducting visitor surveys throughout the National Park System. The unit uses customer satisfaction cards, focus groups and periodic in-depth Visitor Services Project (VSP) visitor studies.

Through these in-depth VSP surveys park managers obtain accurate information about visitors - who they are, what they do, their needs, and opinions.

The most recent VSP studies for Rocky Mountain National Park were conducted during the summer of 2010 and winter of 2011.

I pulled together a few stats that I thought were quite interesting, and compared them between the summer (July) and winter (February) surveys to see if there were any significant differences. Here's what I found:

* As you might expect, Colorado had the highest percentage of visitors from any state. During the summer survey 24% of all visitors were from Colorado. That number jumped to 77% during the winter survey.

* During both time periods Texas ranked second as the state of origin among visitors. During the summer survey, Texas represented 9% of all visitors, Illinois ranked third at 7%, Missouri represented 6%, and Nebraska rounded out the top 5 at 5%.

* 4% of all visitors during the summer were from abroad. However, that number shrank to less than 1% during the winter survey time period.

* 39% of the summer visitors stated they were visiting Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time in their lifetime. However, during the winter, 73% of the respondents said they had visited the park at least one other time in the past 12 months.

* Summer visitors tended to be more female (56%), while winter visitors skewed towards male (53%).

* During the summer survey the five most commonly visited sites were:

Trail Ridge Road (71%)
Alpine Visitor Center (60%)
Bear Lake (47%)
Old Fall River Road (36%)
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (35%)

* The most common activities during the summer were:

Viewing scenery (93%)
Driving Trail Ridge Road (75%)
Wildlife viewing/bird watching (73%)
Day hiking (57%)
Driving Bear Lake Road (38%)

Also of note, 7% of respondents said they participated in mountaineering/climbing, while another 6% spent time backpacking.

Viewing scenery was the most important activity for 35% of visitor groups. 28% said day hiking was the most important activity, while wildlife viewing/bird watching ranked third at 14%.

* The most common activities during the winter visit were:

Viewing scenery (66%)
Wildlife viewing/bird watching (45%)
Snowshoeing (42%)
Driving Bear Lake Road (28%)
Day hiking (23%)

34% of all visitor groups said that snowshoeing was the most important activity. 19% said viewing scenery was the most important, while 15% said wildlife viewing/bird watching, 11% day hiking, and 8% said cross-country skiing was their primary activity.

You can view both studies by clicking on the summer and winter VSP reports.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Body Found Near Bear Lake Believed To Be That Of Troy Green

On the afternoon of Tuesday, February 5, 2013, Rocky Mountain National Park officials were notified by two people who were snowshoeing north and west of Bear Lake of a body located in a thick timbered area, approximately 100 feet off a summer hiking trail. Larimer County Coroner's office will not release positive identification until completion of an autopsy. However, it is believed that the body is that of Troy Green, 39, from San Antonio, Texas.

The location where the body was found, near the Flattop Mountain Trail, was inside the search area but approximately one mile north of the Tyndall Gorge and Nymph Lake region where search managers believed that Green may have hiked. He was found in an area that had been searched several times by ground personnel, a dog team, and helicopter over-flights. Green's body was against a tree and he was wearing dark-colored clothing. The recovery team reached the Bear Lake Trailhead at 6:30 p.m. with Green's body. Because the investigation is ongoing, the Flattop Trail from the north side of Bear Lake is temporarily closed.

Mr. Green was planning to attend a conference in Denver. When his wife did not hear from him on Thursday, January 31, she contacted the Denver Police Department. He did not arrive at the conference on Friday. On Friday afternoon, February 1, an advisory was given for his rental car that matched a vehicle found early Friday morning by park rangers at the Bear Lake parking lot.

Search efforts began Friday afternoon. Over the weekend teams searched throughout the Bear Lake system of trails; focusing on off- trail areas particularly in the Mill Creek Drainage, in the Flattop Mountain area, and between Bear Lake and Dream Lake. Park rangers were assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Arapahoe Rescue Patrol, and Summit County Rescue. Aerial search efforts also took place over this entire area. Searchers faced winter conditions with deep and drifting snow and high winds. Hundreds of visitors were in the Bear Lake area over the weekend also serving as eyes and ears.


New Program Provides Recreation For Military Families

On Sunday, January 13th, 20 military and veteran family members from across the country were treated to a guided interpretive snowshoe hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The adventure started with a short safety briefing and the distribution of free National Park Active Duty and Access passes. The active duty military, veterans, and their families braved single digit temperatures and an elevation of 8,470 feet above sea level to snowshoe to a frozen waterfall. The East Inlet Trail took the group to a Adams Falls and farther up to a meadow with spectacular views of snow covered peaks. Before heading back to the trailhead and hot chocolate, the group had a chance to try out different snowshoe techniques and play in the snow.

For many in the group, it was a new experience. Most of the participants had never been snowshoeing or been to Rocky Mountain National Park. The trip was made possible through a unique partnership. Project Sanctuary, a non-profit, sponsored the event and partnered with rangers from Florissant Fossil Beds and Rocky Mountain to coordinate the logistics for the trip.

Project Sanctuary’s mission is to provide therapeutic, curative, supportive and recreational activities to veterans, active military personnel, their spouses and children in a leisure environment. Florissant Fossil Beds, through its military outreach program called “Post to Parks,” helped connect the organization and parks.

“Although the weather was extremely cold, the families had a great time,” said Florissant Fossil Beds ranger and program coordinator Scott Harper. “Park rangers Rebecca Roland and Sarah Hershfelt did an outstanding job of leading the hike and explaining the wonders of Rocky Mountain. The folks were delighted when we handed out the free passes and said they had no idea they were eligible to receive them. This hike was an outstanding way to connect our military and veterans to the National Parks and the outdoors.”

Monthly trips to Rocky Mountain are planned throughout the upcoming year to coincide with Project Sanctuary retreats. The idea is to help connect the military with the lands they protect and to encourage them to enjoy and be stewards of our public lands.

For more information about this program and/or outreach to the military community please contact Scott Harper at Florissant Fossil Beds at 719-748-3253.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Safety Message from RMNP

If you have any plans on hiking, snowshoeing or doing any cross-country skiing in the Bear Lake area in the near future, you may want to make note of this "safety message" that posted on the Rocky Mountain Facebook page this afternoon:
There is a maze of tracks and trails in the Bear Lake area due to Search and Rescue efforts from the past days. These tracks may lead people in the wrong direction, so please familiarize yourself with the route and terrain before you head out on the trail, and bring a map and compass/GPS for aide.


One Day in Yosemite

On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 30 filmmakers converged in Yosemite to document one day in the life of the national park. Viewers of the film see the park through the eyes of rangers, park employees, sight-seers, hikers, painters, climbers and even hang-gliders. The park published this wonderful film late last month, and called it One Day in Yosemite:


Monday, February 4, 2013

Search Efforts for Missing Man in Rocky Mountain National Park Have Been Scaled Back

On Sunday, February 3rd, the backcountry surrounding the Bear Lake area where Troy Green was last seen was again heavily used by park visitors who were snowshoeing and skiing. The saturation of this area by searchers, dog teams, a helicopter, and large numbers of recreational users provided a great deal of coverage but again with no clues.

Search teams on Sunday encountered deep snow and pockets of considerable avalanche conditions. The depth of snow since Thursday has hampered search operations. Aerial searching detected several large slab avalanches on the northeast aspects of peaks along the Divide but with no evidence that they were human triggered.

Last night the park reported that rangers heard from two witnesses who indicated they spoke with Mr. Green at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31st, at the Bear Lake Trailhead but did not see what direction he went from there. Between witness reports and park rangers' investigation, it is now known that Mr. Green purchased additional gear after he arrived in Colorado. It is possible that he was wearing black snow pants, a black puffy down jacket, black gloves and a black balaclava. He also was seen wearing hiking boots and a royal blue and grey camelback. At the time the two witnesses spoke with him, it was snowing and there were high winds.

Today, search managers are scaling back efforts due to concerns about safety of Search and Rescue personnel and lack of clues and new information. The incident management team is evaluating new search tactics at this time. In the coming days, a small team of rangers will focus their search on pockets of challenging terrain in the Bear Lake and lower Tyndall Gorge areas.

The investigation in ongoing. If anyone was visiting the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, January 31, or Friday, February 1, park rangers would like to hear from you. Please call Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1204.


Colorado Avalanche Information Center Issues Special Advisory Statement

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued a Special Advisory Statement that is in effect through 02/06/2013 12:00 PM:
On Saturday February 2nd there were at least five avalanche incidents across the state from the Wyoming border to Silverton in southern Colorado. There was one fatality, and several people with reported injuries.

The current snowpack across Colorado is in a delicate state of balance. Before the last storm cycle moved across the state the base layers of the snow were exceptionally weak. The new snow during the storm came in with significant wind and a high water content, meaning the new snow was heavy, and developed quickly into dangerous slabs.

It is taking little additional stress to trigger large, deep and dangerous avalanches. These conditions will linger for some time into the future. Backcountry riders are advised to use extra caution if traveling in or around avalanche terrain today.
The avalanche danger for most of the state is considerable (Level 3). To read the entire report, please click here.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service May Propose to Reintroduce Wolverines to Colorado

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced last week that it is seeking information from the scientific community and the public on a proposal to protect the North American wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service is also seeking comment on two proposed special rules designed to facilitate management and recovery of the species should it receive protection.

An estimated 250 to 300 wolverines now occur in the lower 48 states, where the species has rebounded after broad-scale predator trapping and poisoning programs led to its near extinction in the early 1900s. According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, most are believed to inhabit Montana.

Extensive climate modeling indicates that the wolverine’s snowpack habitat will be greatly reduced and fragmented in the coming years due to climate warming, thereby threatening the species with extinction. Wolverines are dependent on areas in high mountains, near the tree-line, where conditions are cold year-round and snow cover persists well into the month of May.

The Service does not consider most activities occurring within the high elevation habitat of the wolverine, including snowmobiling and backcountry skiing, and land management activities like timber harvesting and infrastructure development, to constitute significant threats to the wolverine. As a result, the Service is proposing a special rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA that, should the species be listed, would allow these types of activities to continue.

Under the proposed 4(d) rule, take of wolverines associated with hunting and trapping would be prohibited if the species is listed. The Service is seeking input on the appropriateness of prohibiting incidental take of wolverine in the course of legal trapping activities directed at other species.

In support of ongoing federal and state agencies to protect the wolverine from extinction, the Service is also simultaneously proposing a special rule under Section 10(j) of the ESA to facilitate potential reintroduction of the species to its historical range in Colorado. The reintroduction effort, which is still under consideration, would be led by the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Currently, wolverines occur within the North Cascades Range in Washington and the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and a small portion of Oregon (Wallowa Range). Populations once existed in the Sierra Nevada of California and the southern Rocky Mountains in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Currently, one individual male wolverine is known to inhabit the Sierra Nevada and one male wolverine resides in the southern Rocky Mountains. Both are recent migrants to these areas.

Most wolverine habitat in the contiguous U.S. – more than 90 percent – is located on federally-owned land, with the remainder being state, private or tribally owned.

If the proposed listing rule is finalized, the Service will add the wolverine to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The listing would protect the wolverine as a threatened species in the contiguous (or lower 48) states as a distinct population segment (DPS) under the ESA.

The Service will open a 90-day comment period beginning February 4, 2013, to allow the public and stakeholders an opportunity to provide information or comments regarding the proposed listing and 4(d) rule and the proposed 10(j) rule. A draft Recovery Outline will also be available for comments. During that time, the agency will also seek peer review of the proposed listing and proposed rules from the scientific community. Comments will be accepted until May 6, 2013.

Last year, the President directed that any future designations of critical habitat carefully consider all public comments on relevant science and economic impact, including those that suggest methods for minimizing regulatory burdens. If the listing is finalized, any potential critical habitat designation will include a full analysis of economic impact, including impact on jobs, and will strive, to the extent permitted by law, to avoid unnecessary burdens and costs on states, tribes, localities and the private sector.

At this time, the Service finds that critical habitat is not determinable, as the agency needs additional time to assess the potential impact of a critical habitat designation and to identify specific areas that may be appropriate for critical habitat designation. The Service seeks comments on the reasons they should or should not designate critical habitat for the wolverine, and what specific areas might be considered for designation.

For more information about wolverine conservation, copies of the proposals, and details on public meetings and hearings, visit the Service’s website.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Third Day Of Searching Begins For Missing Man In Bear Lake Area

The third day of search efforts began early this morning, Sunday, February 3rd, for a missing man from San Antonio, Texas. Troy Green was reported missing Friday afternoon. Yesterday, thirty-five searchers were involved and recon flights occurred over the search area. Today, forty-five searchers are involved plus a number of search dogs. Park rangers are being assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Arapahoe Rescue Patrol, and Summit County Rescue. Searchers continue to concentrate their efforts on the popular Bear Lake system of trails; focusing on off trail areas particularly in the Mill Creek Drainage and in the Flattop Mountain area. Intensive search efforts will occur in the area between Bear Lake and Dream Lake. Aerial search will continue over this entire area.

There was no new snowfall in the Bear Lake area overnight. Snow depths and conditions vary in the area depending on the elevation. At Bear Lake, located at 9,475 feet, there was 9 inches of new snow from Wednesday through Friday. There are numerous trails that leave from the Bear Lake area. It is unknown where Mr. Green's destination was or what kind of clothing he was wearing. Searchers continue to face winter conditions with deep snow, winds and drifting snow.

The Bear Lake area is a popular winter recreation destination in Rocky Mountain National Park. The fresh snow and blue skies drew hundreds of winter enthusiasts yesterday to snowshoe and backcountry ski in the area; serving as more eyes and ears to aid search efforts. High visitation is expected again today.

Mr. Green was planning to attend a conference in Denver. When his wife did not hear from him on Thursday, January 31, she contacted the Denver Police Department. He did not arrive at the conference on Friday. On Friday afternoon, an advisory was given for his rental car that matched a vehicle found early Friday morning by park rangers at the Bear Lake parking lot.

If anyone was visiting the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, January 31, or Friday, February 1, park rangers would like to hear from you. Please call Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1204.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rocky Mountain Steps-up Search for Missing Man in Bear Lake area

Search efforts began again early this morning, Saturday, February 2nd, for a missing man from San Antonio, Texas. Troy Green was reported missing Friday afternoon. Yesterday, fourteen searchers including two dog teams from Larimer County Search and Rescue searched the Bear Lake area. Due to extremely cold temperatures, wind and darkness, searchers were brought out of the backcountry last night. Through the evening, park rangers planned for today's search efforts.

Today, there are thirty-five searchers involved with this incident. Park rangers are being assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue and Rocky Mountain Rescue. Since Wednesday there has been continuous winds and snowfall in the Bear Lake area. Accumulation of snow varies based on elevation. At Bear Lake, located at 9,475 feet, there has been 9 inches of new snow since Wednesday. There are numerous trailheads that leave from the Bear Lake area. It is unknown where Mr. Green's destination was or what kind of clothing he was wearing.

Mr. Green was planning to attend a conference in Denver. When his wife did not hear from him on Thursday, January 31, she contacted the Denver Police Department. He did not arrive at the conference on Friday. On Friday afternoon, an advisory was given for his rental car that matched a vehicle found early Friday morning by park rangers at the Bear Lake parking lot.

If anyone was visiting the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, January 31st, or Friday, February 1st, park rangers would like to hear from you. Please call Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1204.


Search Underway For Missing Man in Bear Lake Area of Rocky Mountain National Park

A search is underway in Rocky Mountain National Park for a missing 39-year-old man, Troy Green, from San Antonio, Texas. The search is currently being focused in the Bear Lake area.

Mr. Green was planning to attend a conference in Denver. When his wife did not hear from him on January 31st, she contacted the Denver Police Department. He did not arrive at the conference today. This afternoon, an advisory was given for his rental car that matched a vehicle found early Friday morning by park rangers at the Bear Lake parking lot.

Fourteen searchers including two dog teams from Larimer County Search and Rescue are searching the Bear Lake area. Due to extremely cold temperatures, wind and impending darkness, searchers were brought out of the backcountry Friday night. There are numerous trailheads that leave from the Bear Lake area.

Search efforts will begin again this morning. If anyone was visiting the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, January 31st, or Friday, February 1st, park rangers would like to hear from you. Please call Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1204.


Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies

"For explorers of the past, present and future"

What can I say? This is probably the best mountain film I've ever seen. Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies is an award-winning short film documenting the life of the alpine landscape through some of the best time-lapse photography I've ever seen. It was shot in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks in Canada. Enjoy:

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.


Friday, February 1, 2013

US Forest Service closes areas in Boulder Canyon to protect wildlife

The Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests will implement its annual area closures at Security Risk, Eagle Rock, Blob Rock, and Bitty Buttress in Boulder Canyon beginning February 1st.

These areas are located along State Highway 119 approximately 1.5 miles east of Boulder Falls. Happy Hour, Bihedral, and Riviera will remain open, as long as visitors stay out of the closed areas.

The closures help protect a long-established golden eagle nesting territory, including vital alternate nest sites. Undisturbed access to multiple nest sites is important for birds of prey, especially early in the nesting season, to give them a chance to visit multiple nests during courtship and to select a site for the season, free of human influence.

Signs will be posted at key access points into the closed areas. Closure information will be available online at local climbing websites and at (click on Boulder Canyon for more info). Closures are effective from February 1st through July 31st. Volunteers and Forest Service personnel will monitor the areas, and some areas may be reopened prior to July 31st.


Big Spring Creek Becomes Newest National Natural Landmark

NPS Digest announced yesterday that Big Spring Creek has been named as the newest National Natural Landmark. The creek runs along the western portion of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, approximately 30 miles north of Alamosa, Colorado.

Big Spring Creek was given the distinction in October for the perennial spring-fed creek that flows through the sparsely-vegetated, large sand sheets of the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Along its course, Big Spring Creek supports an aquatic dependent wetland ecosystem in an otherwise arid landscape.

Few spring-fed creeks exist in the area and Big Spring Creek is unusual in that it still maintains a natural flow pattern. The meandering creek and surrounding eolian landforms at this site provide excellent examples of natural geologic and hydrologic patterns. The new designation provides increased educational value and added consideration for these special resources during planning efforts as the National Park Service strives to achieve a model standard of excellence in natural resource stewardship.

Big Spring Creek is the 13th NNL within Colorado and brings the total number of NNLs designated nationwide over the past 50 years to 594. The NNL program was established in 1962 by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall as a way to highlight the diversity of natural features that comprise our nation’s natural heritage. The NNL program is the only nationwide natural areas program that recognizes significant biological and geological features in both public and private ownership.

The NPS works in partnership with NNL landowners and honors the dedication of the various federal, state, county, municipal, tribal and private landowners that wisely steward their lands, which carry the NNL designation. Through advocacy and technical assistance, the NPS is pleased to be a part of supporting the conservation of these nationally significant sites for the past half-century.

For more information about recent designations and the NNL Program, please visit the NNL program website.