Sunday, March 31, 2013

U.S. Forest Service to begin Spring Tours of Picket Wire Canyonlands in May

The U.S. Forest Service will offer guided tours into Picket Wire Canyonlands south of La Junta on the Comanche National Grassland. Spring tours begin the first Saturday of May 2013 and run through late June 2013. These primitive canyons are home to the largest dinosaur track site in North America.

Guided auto tours are the easiest way to visit Picket Wire Canyonlands to learn about its rich, colorful past. During the tour, knowledgeable guides will show visitors difficult to find dinosaur tracks and will point out the interesting prehistoric, historic and natural features of the Canyons.

All day tours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) are offered on Saturdays and some Sundays in May, June, September and October 2013 for a small fee. The District will also consider additional tour dates to accommodate special requests. Due to rough roads, visitors will need their own four-wheel drive vehicle.

Reservations can be made beginning April 3, 2013 by visiting the website or, by calling: 877-444-6777.

For additional information, call the U.S. Forest Service in La Junta, CO at 719-384-2181.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ranger-guided Tour Tickets to be Sold at New Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center

Tickets for ranger-guided tours of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park will be sold at the park's new Visitor and Research Center beginning April 7, announced Superintendent Cliff Spencer. "We hope everyone will make the new facility their first stop," he said. The building is located just off US Highway 160 at the park entrance and is currently open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Effective April 7, the facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets may also be purchased at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez. Extended summer hours begin on May 24, 2013.

The Far View Visitor Center, located at milepost 15 on the park road, is now closed to the public. All visitors should stop at the new Visitor and Research Center as they enter the park to obtain park information and purchase tickets for the ranger-guided tours.

Ranger-guided tours of Cliff Palace begin on April 7, with tours offered hourly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On April 21, Balcony House opens to the public for four tours daily, offered at 9:30 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Student-oriented tours of Balcony House for school groups are available by reservation: call 970-529-5079 for information. Wetherill Mesa and Long House open for the season on Friday, May 24, 2013; tour tickets are required for Long House. Spruce Tree House is open daily with no tour ticket required. For more information on the park interpretive program schedule, visit the Operating Hours & Seasons page, or contact the park directly at 970-529-4465.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Grand Old Man of Estes Park

Freelan Oscar Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, first came to Estes Park in 1903 on doctor’s orders. Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for the improvements to his health, Stanley decided to invest his money and his future in the budding tourist community.

Freelan, and his twin brother Francis, were both accomplished inventors and both considered to be geniuses. Together they founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company after selling their photographic dry plate business to the Eastman Kodak Company. Their first automobiles, known as Stanley Steamers, were built in 1897 and relied on steam power. Demonstrating their rivalry with gasoline powered vehicles, one of the Stanley models set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile in 1906. Clocking in at 127.6 miles per hour that day, the record stood until 1911.

In 1903, at the age of 53, Freelan was advised by his doctor to visit Colorado. Suffering from tuberculosis, the doctor told him not to make any plans beyond the autumn, expecting the disease to take his life within the next several months. Stanley's summer vacation in Estes Park, however, put him back on the road to good health. Soon he moved to Estes Park and purchased 160 acres of land where he would build a luxurious hotel for vacationing Easterners. Stanley designed the hotel, as well as the manor house, casino building, concert hall, tennis courts, 9-hole golf course, trap shooting range and eventually an airfield for small planes.

This photo of the Stanley was taken by H. T. Cowling and appeared in the National Park Portfolio of 1916/1917:

At a cost of more than a half-million dollars the resort opened in June of 1909. Some of the early guests to visit the Stanley Hotel included J.C. Penney, Harvey Firestone, Dr. William Mayo and Theodore Roosevelt.

In that same year Freelan built a hydroelectric plant along the Fall River, which allowed the hotel to claim it was the first in the country "to heat, light, and cook meals exclusively with electricity…" Eventually his plant would provide electricity to the growing citizenry in Estes Park. Within just a few years the influential Freelan O. Stanley was earning the reputation as "The Grand Old Man of Estes Park."

The hydroelectric plant would supply electricity to Estes Park until July 15, 1982. On that day the Lawn Lake Dam broke and sent 300 million gallons of water down the Roaring River valley and killing three campers, before rushing down Fall River Road and destroying the plant’s power generating capabilities. Twenty years later the plant would reopen as the Estes Park Historical Museum.

Despite the dire prognosis from his doctor, Freelan would live another 37 years before dying in 1940 at the age of 91.

Several decades after his death, the Stanley Hotel became famous once again when novelist Stephen King found his inspiration for "The Shining" after staying in an almost empty hotel on the night before it closed for the winter. Although the hotel wasn’t used in the movie, it was used as a backdrop for the three-part 1997 television mini-series.

In more recent years the hotel has gained notoriety as one of America's most haunted hotels. Numerous stories from visitors and staff have reported seeing Stanley's ghost, or his wife's ghost. Visitors today can take the Ghosts & History Tour, and possibly encounter the mysterious apparitions for themselves.

In the lobby the Stanley Hotel proudly displays this 1906 Model EX, 10 HP Runabout. This model came equipped with both a 26-gallon water tank and a 13-gallon gas tank. The gas was used to heat the water in the boiler, and could take up to a half-hour before it generated enough steam to power the car. This model weighed 1000 pounds, could achieve speeds of 45 MPH, and would have set you back a cool $850 back in the day! (my guess is that to purchase this same car now you would likely have to add at least 2 zeroes to that figure)


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Considering Use of Unmanned Aircraft for Wildlife Management

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will work together to evaluate whether small unmanned aircraft operated by the USGS can save state wildlife managers time, money and offer a safer and enhanced alternative to gather greater sage-grouse data.

On Wednesday, April 3 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the CSU Cooperative Extension Hall in Kremmling, interested members of the public can see the aircraft and learn more about its benefits for science and wildlife management as well as its cost saving potential. Representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the USGS and the Bureau of Land Management will on hand to answer questions.

"The aircraft proved successful in other recent wildlife inventory projects conducted by USGS," said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs. "We are interested to see if greater sage-grouse will tolerate the craft flying near their leks at the lower altitudes necessary to provide useful data."

A "lek" is the traditional breeding ground where males perform a distinctive, dramatic and complex dance to attract mates in a ritual believed to be thousands of years old.

The evaluation will occur on both public and private land. Local landowners where flights are planned have been consulted and have agreed to allow the craft to fly near leks on their property.

Currently, to gather the critical data necessary for effective management, Colorado's wildlife managers spend enormous amounts of time in the air every year; however, data from low-flying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft is often difficult to obtain and can be unsafe for employees. In addition, wildlife managers estimate that the cost saving potential is substantial, with the expense of unmanned aircraft being a fraction of the costs of manned flights.

Because the small unmanned aircraft is smaller, less noisy and can fly safely as low as 150 feet off the ground, it may provide wildlife managers with views of known, historic, or undiscovered leks currently inaccessible due to snow, mud and difficult terrain.

"It could prove to be an invaluable tool," said Brad Petch, senior terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Manned flights will always be necessary, but if a smaller, less expensive remote controlled aircraft can give us safer access and views we have not had in the past, wildlife will certainly benefit, and so will the citizens of Colorado."

Greater sage-grouse are an important and iconic species found in Colorado and several other western states. In recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, local governments, stakeholder groups, landowners and land management agencies have been collaborating on strategies to preserve and increase the species' numbers across the northwest part of the state.

The aircraft, or sUAS, weighs 4.2 pounds, measures 36 inches in length and has a 54-inch wingspan. It carries two types of cameras, is remote controlled and flies from 100 to 400 feet above ground. Its flight duration is 60 minutes can be flown within line of sight up to one mile from the pilots location.

Additional information about the USGS sUAS program, including video of the aircraft in flight, can be found here.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park Spring Newspaper Now Online

This week Rocky Mountain National Park published the spring edition of their park newspaper. In addition to some key information concerning the Bear Lake Road reconstruction project this summer, the newspaper highlights all of the free ranger-led programs happening this spring.

For hikers, there will be 1.5-hour spring bird walks starting from the Alluvial Fan several days a week throughout the spring. On the west side of the park, in late May and early June, rangers will lead participants on the Coyote Valley River Walk, as well as pleasant strolls to Adams Falls, which includes a spectacular view just beyond the falls.

On June 14th the park will be hosting a program called Astronomy in the Park, which will be held in the Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead parking area. During this program you'll have a chance to observe the night sky with the help of a park ranger and expert volunteer astronomers.

On June 8th RMNP will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with a ranger-led birding excursion that will visit multiple locations.

The newspaper also offers suggestions on some early season hiking trails, such as Granite Falls and Cascade Falls on the west side of the park, or Alberta Falls and Cub Lake on the east side.

To download the entire newspaper (1.8M PDF), please click here.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Programming Note: Grand Lake motel to appear on Hotel Impossible tonight

The Western Riviera Motel in Grand Lake will be on tonight's episode of Hotel Impossible. The episode will air on the Travel Channel at 10:00 p.m. EST / 8:00 p.m. MST.

Back in early February the star and host of Hotel Impossible, Anthony Melchiorri, and designer, Blanche Garcia, spent a week 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 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.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ski with a US Forest Service snow ranger, learn about the land

Snow riders at Loveland Ski Area will have two opportunities this spring to take a run with a U.S. Forest Service snow ranger: March 30 and April 27. This is a chance to learn about topics ranging from glacial geology and winter ecology to local history and the longstanding partnership between the ski area and the Forest Service. Skiers of all ages are welcome, however the tour is designed for ages 8 and up.

The tour will start from the Ptarmigan Roost Cabin at the top of Chair 2 at 10:30 a.m. and 1: 30 p.m. The group will take easy-designated trails. Preregistration is not required. Groups will be limited to 30 people.

Loveland Ski Area is celebrating its 75th year of operation and is located on and permitted by the Arapaho National Forest.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pawnee Buttes Trailhead Grand Opening

The U.S. Forest Service will be holding a celebration for the newly reconstructed Pawnee Buttes Trailhead on the Pawnee National Grassland (PNG) on April 20 at 10am. Employees will be on hand to cut the ribbon on this project, and will be available to provide information on recreation opportunities on the PNG.

The U.S. Forest Service was able to complete the various improvements at the trailhead with the support of partners, including the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway Program, the Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway Committee, and Cedar Creek Wind Energy, LLC. Approximately $250,000, mostly received from grants, was spent to reroute the trail, build a new parking area, and add picnic tables and shelters, restrooms, and interpretive information. A portion of the new trail is also ADA accessible.

The trailhead is located 56 miles from Ault and 73 miles from Greeley. Directions from Highway 14, travel north on Forest Service Road (FSR) 129. Next, travel east on FSR 110. Then follow signs to the trailhead area. The trailhead is northwest of New Raymer.

Remember, facilities are limited on the grassland. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen and have a full tank of gas in your vehicle before arriving.

The Pawnee Buttes are a signature landmark of the Pawnee National Grassland, rising more than 200 feet from the prairie floor and offers hiking opportunities.

For more information about recreational activities or the grand opening, please call the PNG office at 970-346-5000 or check online.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Year for the Bear Lake Road Reconstruction Project at Rocky Mountain National Park

In early 2012, a major road construction project began on the lower section of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Much work was completed in 2012, however much remains to be done. Bear Lake Road is one of the most popular scenic roads in Rocky Mountain National Park and provides year-round visitor access to a variety of wonderful recreational opportunities.

Weather permitting, this project will be completed by late summer 2013. Beginning in mid-March through May 24, visitors traveling on weekdays past the Big Thompson Bridge on Bear Lake Road may experience up to two 30-minute delays in each direction.

Weekdays: On weekdays from May 28, through July 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Bear Lake Road, approximately one mile southwest of Moraine Park Visitor Center to Bear Lake, will be accessible by free shuttle bus only. Private vehicles will be allowed both directions prior to 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. On weekdays, visitors in private vehicles who make the 9:00 a.m. cutoff time will be allowed to leave throughout the day. All visitors, in private vehicles or shuttle buses, should expect at least two 20-minute delays both directions through the construction area. There will be no construction delays between Park & Ride and Bear Lake. There may be night closures during the construction. Night closures will be announced at least two weeks prior to occurring and will only occur on weeknights.

Weekends: Private vehicles will be allowed all day on weekends. Although private vehicles will be allowed to travel on weekends through the construction area, shuttle buses will also be running. Visitors may experience some delays on weekends.

The park's three shuttle routes will be modified again this summer during the construction. The Bear Lake Route will run between Moraine Park Visitor Center and Bear Lake with stops at Hollowell Park, Park & Ride, Bierstadt Bus Stop, Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Bear Lake. The Moraine Park Route will run between the Moraine Park Visitor Center and the Fern Lake bus stop with stops at Moraine Park Campground, Cub Lake Trailhead and Fern Lake bus stop.

The first bus will depart from the Moraine Park Visitor Center at 7:00 a.m. and the last bus will leave at 7:00 p.m. The last bus of the day will leave Bear Lake and Fern Lake Trailheads at 7:30 p.m. Bear Lake Route buses will run every 15 minutes but may be delayed during periods of road construction. Moraine Park Route buses will run every 20 minutes.

The Hiker Shuttle Route will make stops at the Estes Park Fairgrounds Park-n-Ride, the Estes Park Visitor Center, the park's Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Moraine Park Visitor Center, where passengers will transfer to either the Bear Lake Route or the Moraine Park Route. The first bus will leave the Town of Estes Park Visitor Center at 6:30 a.m. and the last bus will leave the Moraine Park Visitor Center bound for Estes Park at 8:00 p.m. The Hiker Shuttle will run on an hourly schedule early and late in the day; switching to a half hour schedule between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. On July 20, the transfer point for park shuttles will move from Moraine Park Visitor Center back to the park's Park & Ride facility.

Glacier Basin Campground will be closed this summer. Numerous pull-off areas may be closed at times during the construction. Visitors should expect congestion and very limited parking at Moraine Park Visitor Center. Visitors should also expect congestion and limited parking at the popular picnic and angler area in lower Moraine Park, north of the Big Thompson River.

Visitors who plan to go to the Bear Lake area on weekdays will have easier access if they plan ahead, hike early or hike late, and carpool. Visitors who are unable to make the 9:00 a.m. cutoff time may experience significant delays in transit and wait times at shuttle stops and may want to explore other areas of Rocky Mountain National Park.

All trailheads along the Bear Lake Corridor, the Park & Ride, Moraine Park Visitor Center and Beaver Meadows Visitor Center have limited parking spaces available. For those visitors who want to access the Bear Lake area on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the best option will be to park in Estes Park at the parking lot near the Fairgrounds or the Estes Park Visitor Center and take the Hiker Shuttle to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This major project began in 2012, and is taking place on Bear Lake Road from the junction of Trail Ridge Road/Highway 36 to the Park & Ride - Glacier Basin Campground intersection, covering 5.1 miles. The work is similar in scope and impacts as the first phase of reconstruction completed on Bear Lake Road in 2004, which took place on the upper 4.3 mile section of road.

This major project involves construction of significant retaining walls to improve safety and drainage. In addition, a 0.9 mile section is being rerouted away from Glacier Creek, in order to prevent impacts to wetlands and riparian habitat and reduce costs. Structural deficiencies will be corrected in the roadway and inadequate parking and pullout design will be improved. This project will widen the road and improve the road surface to better accommodate park shuttle buses. Safety associated with winter snow removal will be enhanced by the wider road.

Rocky is approaching its Centennial anniversary in 2015. Bear Lake Road was completed in 1928 and until 2003, no significant improvements were made. No major road work has taken place on the lower section for more than 80 years. When this project is complete, just prior to the park's hundredth anniversary, it will conclude over 47 miles of critical improvements on park roads since 2003.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded a $23.4 million contract to American Civil Constructors and is administering this project on behalf of the National Park Service. American Civil Constructors is based in Littleton, Colorado. The overall cost of the project is $27.7 million.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Recovery Efforts Began This Morning For David Laurienti

Before dawn this morning a team of park rangers assisted by two members of Rocky Mountain Rescue left the Lawn Lake Trailhead to resume recovery operations for the body of David Laurienti. Another team left the trailhead at approximately 8:00 a.m. to aid the first team's efforts. The second team consisted of park rangers assisted by five members of Larimer County Search and Rescue. A forecast of strong and gusty winds has prevented the use of a helicopter. The safety of the teams has been the top priority of today's efforts. The teams were expected to reach the trailhead with Laurienti's body at approximately 4:00 p.m. today.

On Tuesday, March 19, a six-person team found David Laurienti's body in the Upper Fay Lakes drainage on the north slope of Ypsilon Mountain. The area is roughly 6 miles from the trailhead in a remote, rugged section of the park. His body was protected and moved to a location with less avalanche potential.

David Laurienti, forty-three years old from Estes Park, died from injuries believed to be sustained in a fall, likely occurring in an avalanche. Search efforts began Monday morning, March 18, for David Laurienti and Lisa Foster, two overdue climbers from Estes Park. At around 2:45 p.m. park rangers found Foster, forty-five years old, in the upper Fay Lakes basin approximately 6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. Ms. Foster and Mr. Laurienti had been caught in an avalanche at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, when descending from the north side of Blitzen Ridge on the 13,514 foot Ypsilon Mountain. Foster indicated that Laurienti was deceased. She suffered numerous injuries. Park rangers provided her with assistance, medical care and evacuated her via toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is roughly 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead.

Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock, often made more difficult in winter conditions. Recent snow and winds have contributed to what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted as considerable avalanche conditions in this area since Saturday. Ypsilon (pronounced ipp-salon) Mountain is located north of Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Did You Know…National Park Week is April 20-28

The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation invite everyone to get to know their national parks during National Park Week. This year’s dates are April 20 – 28, with free admission to all national parks April 22 – 26.

“This year’s theme, ‘Did you know…’ provides a fun way to discover the wonders of America’s national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “For example, did you know that there are national parks in 49 of 50 states? Did you know that national parks include seashores, battlefields, and historic homes? Did you know that the country’s highest peak, lowest point, tallest tree, deepest lake and longest cave are in national parks? Did you know that you probably live within an hour or two of a national park? National Park Week is a great time for all Americans to visit a nearby national park to camp and hike, watch wildlife, stroll a Civil War battlefield, and connect with our heritage and each other.”

National Park Week is also a good time to explore local parks, trails, and architectural gems sustained through National Park Service programs such as the Rivers Trails Conservation Assistance program and the National Register of Historic Places.

The annual celebration includes special events such as Junior Ranger Day on April 20 and Earth Day on April 22. Find a list of ranger-led programs and plan your adventures at You can also use the website to share your park experiences and photos and help support parks.

“National Park Week is a perfect time to celebrate America’s best idea – our national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We are proud to stand with our partners at the National Park Service in presenting this annual event and hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to enjoy and support these outstanding places.”

We think some of the best parks to visit - anytime of year - are Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But hey, that's just our opinion!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Body of Avalanche Victim Found

At 2:00 p.m. this afternoon David Laurienti's body was found in the Upper Fay Lakes drainage on the north slope of Ypsilon Mountain. His body has been protected and moved to a more secure location. The six-person park team who located his body will be coming out of the backcountry tonight.

Tomorrow, park rangers will evaluate alternatives for the safe recovery of his body. This will be dictated largely by weather, wind and avalanche conditions.

David Laurienti, forty-three years old from Estes Park, died from injuries believed to be sustained in a fall, likely occurring in an avalanche. Search efforts began yesterday morning, March 19, for David Laurienti and Lisa Foster, two overdue climbers from Estes Park. At around 2:45 p.m. park rangers found Foster, forty-five years old, in the upper Fay Lakes basin approximately 6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. Ms. Foster and Mr. Laurienti had been caught in an avalanche at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, when descending from the north side of Blitzen Ridge on the 13,514 foot Ypsilon Mountain. Foster suffered numerous injuries. Park rangers provided her with assistance, medical care and evacuated her via toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is roughly 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead.

Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock, often made more difficult in winter conditions. Recent snow and winds have contributed to what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted as considerable avalanche conditions in this area since Saturday. Ypsilon (pronounced ipp-salon) Mountain is located north of Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Update on Fatality Near Ypsilon Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park rescuers arrived at the trailhead with Lisa Foster at 1:00 a.m. this morning, Tuesday, March 19. They were assisted in the evacuation by Larimer County Search and Rescue. Foster was transported by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. Specific information on her injuries will not be released. Over 32 park rescuers were involved in yesterday's efforts plus six members of Larimer County Search and Rescue.

This morning a six-person team was planning an attempt to locate Mr. Laurienti's body and conduct an investigation, if weather and avalanche conditions allowed. Foster reported his body to be in the upper Fay Lakes area north of Ypsilon Mountain. The weather forecast continues to call for high winds with gusts exceeding 60 mph at times, blowing and drifting snow and very cold temperatures above 11,000 feet. The body recovery efforts will take place on another day when weather and conditions allow.

David Laurienti, a forty-three year old male from Estes Park, is presumed dead from injuries believed to be sustained in a fall, likely occurring in an avalanche. Search efforts began yesterday morning, March 18, for Laurienti and Foster, two overdue climbers from Estes Park. At around 2:45 p.m. park rangers found Foster, forty-five years old, in the upper Fay Lakes basin approximately 6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead. Ms. Foster and Mr. Laurienti had been caught in an avalanche at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, when descending from the north side of Blitzen Ridge on the 13,514 foot Ypsilon Mountain. Foster suffered numerous injuries. Park rangers provided her with assistance, medical care and evacuated her via toboggan from Ypsilon Lake, which is roughly 4.5 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead.

Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock, often made more difficult in winter conditions. Recent snow and winds have contributed to what the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted as considerable avalanche conditions in this area since Saturday. Ypsilon (pronounced ipp-salon) Mountain is located north of Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lisa Foster is a park service biology technician and the author of Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide.


Man Killed, Partner Injured In Avalanche on Ypsilon Mountain

Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers began a search yesterday morning for two overdue climbers who were caught in an avalanche on Sunday evening while descending from the north side of Blitzen Ridge on 13,514-foot Ypsilon Mountain. One of them, a 45-year-old woman, was found in mid-afternoon in the upper Fay Lakes basin about six miles from the Lawn Lake trailhead. She’d suffered numerous injuries and was treated and evacuated by rangers. Efforts are continuing to find the body of her 43-year-old male partner.

Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon Mountain is a challenging mountaineering route that includes sections of technical rock, often made more difficult by winter conditions. The avalanche danger in the area has been higher than normal since Saturday due to snow and high winds

Media reports are identifying the injured woman as Lisa Foster, a park service biology technician, and the author of Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide.


The Allegheny 100 Backpacking Challenge

Alright, this is your official forewarning. You better start training right now! This June the North Country Trail Association will be holding its 4th annual Allegheny 100 Backpacking Challenge: to hike 100 miles in 50 hours!

The NCTA makes clear that the "A-100" is not a race; but an individual challenge of one’s stamina, determination and resilience.

The adventure takes place on a 100-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail that meanders through the rolling hills of the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania.

The ultimate goal of the Allegheny 100 is to promote awareness of The North Country Trail.

Most people would probably assume that the either the Appalachian, Continental Divide, or the Pacific Crest Trail, would be the longest National Scenic Trail in the United States. That assumption would be incorrect. Stretching more than 4600 miles through seven states, from New York to North Dakota, the North Country Trail actually makes the claim to being the longest National Scenic Trail in the country.
The backpacking challenge isn't necessarily difficult in terms of climbing and descending, but 100 miles is still 100 miles.

This year's event will be held from Friday, June 7th at 6pm, through Sunday, June 9th at 8pm. The course for the challenge will extend from just south of Marienville, at Vowinckel, Pennsylvania, to a point just before reaching the New York border at Willow Bay. Outside support is not permitted - so you're on your own once you're on the trail. There are no first aid stations or watering stations along the way either (there are plenty of streams and springs). If 100 miles is bit more than you can chew off, 75, 50 and 25-mile options will also be offered.

For more information on the event, please click here.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Reminder: Public Meeting Scheduled on Potential Multiuse Trail System in Rocky Mountain NP

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.


Antero Reservoir to be drained for drought management

Denver Water, in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, will close Antero Reservoir on May 1st to drain the reservoir to save water supply during the ongoing drought.

Antero Reservoir has the highest evaporation rate of any of Denver Water’s reservoirs, so draining and storing the water in Cheesman and Eleven Mile reservoirs will reduce system evaporation losses by about 4,000 acre-feet.

“We’re exploring as many ways as possible to be efficient with our water supply,” said Dave Bennett, water resource manager for Denver Water. “Antero is a drought reservoir designed to provide water to our customers during a severe drought. Moving water from Antero to Cheesman will allow us to make the water available for our customers and reduce evaporation losses to our system.

Denver Water is working closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to minimize the loss of fish during the drain and to allow the public to use the reservoir before it closes.

- Beginning Wednesday, March 20, the bag and possession limit on trout at Antero will be increased from two to eight fish with no minimum size restriction. All other fishing regulations apply.

- Immediately after the ice has melted off the reservoir, CPW staff will trap and relocate spawning trout. Once the fish have moved off the shoreline and inlet areas, the draining of the reservoir will increase significantly. CPW staff will install a series of screens below the reservoir to capture fish as they leave the reservoir.

- In March, the standard recreation regulations apply.
> South: Open 24 hours a day and camping is permitted.
> North: Open from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

- Beginning in April, Antero Reservoir will be open for recreational use from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. No camping will be permitted. After the ice has melted, only hand-launched vessels will be allowed. No trailered boats will be permitted. Recreation will cease May 1st.

Drought conditions will determine when the reservoir can be refilled. The reservoir was also taken out of service to assist with water management during the drought that began in 2002.

Wildlife concerns and questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227. For questions regarding Antero operations, contact Denver Water at 303-628-6117.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unauthorized Snow Removal Hampers Usage of National Forest Road

A recent incident involving the unauthorized plowing of a road on the Medicine Bow National Forest has resulted in the temporary closure of the road to motorized wheeled vehicles, as well as disruption of over-the-snow recreation uses on the road.

Over a mile of the Barber Lake Road (Forest Road 351) on the Laramie Ranger District was plowed from Highway 130, and in addition to causing an inconvenience to other users, the responsible party has been cited by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement for the plowing.

Until conditions permit or until May 15, the road will be closed to wheeled vehicles to protect the road base. Recreationists should be aware that the snow-packed, center portion of the road, which was used by both skiers and snowmobilers, no longer exists, necessitating alternate routes and caution when approaching the area from the northwest.

Cabin owners and users of the National Forest are reminded that snow removal or maintenance on a National Forest System (NFS) road requires a permit and an agreement of liability for damages that occur as a result of snow removal activities or resulting traffic on the road.

In recent years the illegal plowing of NFS roads has caused extensive damage and delayed openings and use of roads by up to three weeks.

Instances similar to Barber Lake have occurred in past years on the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland (MBRTB) on NFS Road 500 near Albany, Wyo., Road 512 near Foxpark, Wyo., Road 111 near Arlington, Wyo. and in North Routt County, Colo., around the community of Clark.

There are many reasons why the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) does not plow snow on NFS roads when it appears that they could. Plowing snow on native or aggregate surfaced roads can lead to costly damage, such as ruts, due to increased traffic on wet roads. Additionally, roads plowed prematurely can result in public safety issues when road conditions are muddy or impassable. Ruts can channel muddy run-off water into nearby creeks, causing soil erosion and damage to fisheries. Also, per USFS guidelines money is not appropriated for snow plowing as part of the road maintenance program.


Friday, March 15, 2013

The Via Ferrata in Telluride

Did you know there was a Via Ferrata in Telluride? No - me neither, until I ran into this video the other day.

First off, what exactly is a Via Ferrata? According to Wikipedia:
A via ferrata (Italian for "iron road") is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations. The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 10 to 33 feet) fixed to the rock. Using a via ferrata kit the climber can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. The cable can also be used as aid to climbing, and additional climbing aids, such as iron rungs, pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges are often provided. Thus via ferrata allow otherwise dangerous routes to be undertaken without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing or need for climbing equipment.
Wikipedia goes on to state that "the origins of via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but via ferratas are strongly associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops."

The Via Ferrata in Telluride was built in 2006 by Chuck Kroger, a local explorer and climber. Now known as The Krogerata, this thrilling technical hike, along the east end of the Telluride Canyon, offers spectacular views of Bridal Veil Falls and the Telluride Valley. You may want to note that the locals have been trying to keep this a secret. Good luck on that!

This video will give a much better perspective on the heights you'll achieve on this "hike":

Telluride Newb | Season 1 | EP 26 from Open Exposure on Vimeo.

For more information on the Telluride Via Ferrata, please click here.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Forest Service Warns that Spring Conditions can be Volatile

Spring in the Rockies brings with it a wide variety of weather conditions, and officials from the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests (MBR) are reminding forest visitors to be prepared for all possible extremes.

Prompting this message is a recent string of lost or stranded recreationists, and fatal accidents. Just this past weekend there were multiple groups of snowmobilers that needed search and rescue assistance in north central Colorado, and the previous weekend there were both avalanche and snowmobile fatalities in the same area.

Remember that days beginning as sunny and warm can end up with blizzard conditions, resulting in navigation difficulties for even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, periods of warm weather can create a freeze-thaw cycle, and thus an icy base layer of snow. Snow accumulation on that icy layer and high winds can then make the snowpack unstable and put avalanche conditions at a dangerous level.

Current avalanche conditions across the MBR range from moderate to considerable, but can change daily. Deep persistent slabs do exist and are hard to trigger, but the consequences of releasing one could be deadly.

Forest visitors are urged to know the conditions and weather forecasts in the area you plan to visit.

Following are safety recommendations for National Forest visitors during the winter/spring:

* There is no avalanche control and forest users must know the snow conditions and their abilities.

* Conditions can change rapidly in the backcountry. Be prepared for extreme conditions, carry appropriate survival gear and be prepared for self-rescue.

* Remember these safety items: shovel, beacon, probe, and KNOWLEDGE.

* Don’t recreate alone.

* Know how to use your emergency gear. Items such as an avalanche beacon are not useful if they cannot be properly used.

* Much terrain throughout the Rocky Mountain region is subject to avalanches. When traveling or recreating in those areas, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and those around you.

* Get avalanche savvy and take a certified avalanche course.

* Pick up a map of the area you plan to visit. Recreation maps, such as the Wyoming State Trails Snowmobile maps, often show avalanche prone areas.

Although the majority of avalanche accidents occur in the backcountry, an avalanche can occur in areas thought to be safe. Ski areas provide a high level of avalanche control on their managed slopes within bounds. Skiers and riders are reminded to stay out of closed and roped off areas and use the buddy system.

Backcountry users should also be aware of potential risks. They should be skilled at recognizing potential avalanche areas and snowpack conditions, and should be able to act accordingly. It is recommended that backcountry users perform careful snowpack evaluations and stability tests prior to entering an avalanche-prone area. There are typically plenty of routes for safer backcountry travel in avalanche country. Be able to recognize and use them as needed.


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rocky Mountain National Park "Grand Loop"

It's hard to believe, but it's already March! Many people have already made, or are in the process of making their hiking and backpacking plans for the upcoming summer. If you're planning a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, here's a very challenging route to consider.

Backpacker Magazine has put together a video highlighting the so called "Grand Loop" in Rocky Mountain National Park. This historically inspired route includes a summit of Longs Peak from the Keplinger Couloir.

The route begins from Bear Lake and takes hikers up to Flattop Mountain. From the summit you'll descend down the west side of the Continental Divide via the Tonahutu Creek Trail as it makes its way to Big Meadows. From Big Meadows the loop makes a brief visit at Grand Lake before venturing back into the wilderness at the East Inlet Trailhead. After reaching Spirit Lake, the route goes off-trail and climbs over Boulder-Grand Pass, and back down to Thunder Lake. From the lake the trail ascends Thunder Ridge and the Keplinger Couloir to reach Longs Peak, the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the top of the peak the trail descends back down the mountain via the Keyhole Route and the North Longs Peak Trail, to return back to Bear Lake.

Here's the video with more information on the route:

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Arches National Park

Arches National Park contains the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world – more than 2500 at last count. By comparison, the Red River Gorge Geological Area in central Kentucky has only a little more than 100 natural sandstone arches, but still has the highest concentration of arches east of the Rocky Mountains.

In addition to a plethora of stone arches, the park has hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins (vertical slabs of rock), balanced rocks and lofty monoliths:

Even if you have a strong preference for the mountains, Arches National Park should be on your bucket list. I would recommend visiting at least one full day, but two days would provide a much better opportunity to soak in everything the park has to offer.

Best Easy Day Hikes Canyonlands and Arches National Parks: this fully updated and revised edition includes trail descriptions and maps of the best short hikes that venture into some of the most scenic sections of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Forest Service Conducts Preliminary Design for Mount Columbia Trail

The Salida Ranger District is finalizing the initial layout and design of a non-motorized climber’s trail on 14,077-foot Mount Columbia west of the town of Buena Vista in Chaffee County. The project area is in the Horn Fork Basin approximately 10 miles west of Buena Vista within the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. This project is an effort to address resource impacts stemming from mountain climbing activities. The design and construction includes approximately 2 miles of new trail construction, 2 miles of social trail closure and restoration, and 1 mile of trail maintenance on the Salida Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest.

Through the Forest Service’s planning processes, alternative routes were identified along the western slopes of Mount Columbia. The project goal is to create a single, more sustainable peak ascent and descent trail. The current trails on the mountain are user created and have resulted in resource damage. Currently the trail does not meet Forest Service standards and guidelines. Completing this trail and restoring social trails that are not sustainable will ultimately reduce vegetation loss and erosion in the area. This project includes design and layout of a more sustainable trail which will eliminate existing resource damage.

Detailed information can be obtained at the Salida Ranger District. If you are interested in this trail and in order to receive full consideration please submit written and or verbal comments by March 29, 2013 e-mail: phone: (719) 530-3953 or mail: USFS, Salida Ranger District, 325 W. Rainbow Blvd., Salida, CO 81201.


Hazard tree work to cause delays on Arapaho Bay Road

If conditions allow, the U.S. Forest Service is planning to begin hazard tree work on Arapaho Bay Road (County Road 6) in the Arapaho National Recreation Area on Friday, March 8th.

To improve safety along the road, the Sulphur Ranger District has contracted a logging company to cut dead and dying trees within falling distance of the travel corridor. While hazard tree cutting is in progress, expect 30-minute delays in both directions for traffic passing through the work zone. Parking along the road will not be allowed between flaggers, and there is no overnight parking allowed at trailheads during this time. Recreationists are also being asked to avoid the active work area, especially along the lakeshore.

The contractor will be using a combination of hand-sawyers and specialized mechanical equipment to reduce potential resource damage. Merchantable timber will be decked along the road and then loaded onto trucks and hauled away for use by the wood products industry. Smaller materials will be lopped and scattered or piled to burn.

Work is expected to begin east of the dam and will eventually be completed all the way to Monarch Lake and up to the Roaring Fork Trailhead. Some work will be completed in the fall. When tree felling is occurring along the final stretch from Big Rock Campground to Monarch Lake, all access to the trailhead will be temporarily prohibited for public safety.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Avalanche Fatality near Cameron Pass

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting that a backcountry skier was killed and another seriously injured in an avalanche on March 2nd. The avalanche occurred southwest of Cameron Pass, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. The 26-year-old victim attended Colorado State University. His friend was evacuated to a nearby hospital by helicopter.

This was the 4th avalanche fatality in Colorado this season, and the 4th avalanche fatality to occur in the United States in March. On March 1st there were fatalities in Wyoming, Utah, and New Hampshire.

CAIC still warns that avalanche danger for the Front Range zone is CONSIDERABLE (Level 3), and human triggered avalanches are likely on many slopes. Today's forecast reads in part:
Observers report large whumpfs, shooting cracks, and remotely triggered avalanches. Recent avalanche activity has been on east, southeast, and west facing slopes that are near or above treeline. Today wind and storm slabs will still be easy to trigger. Slopes that are near and above treeline are the most dangerous. The winds have been both strong and from a variety of directions, so new wind drifts will be on a variety of aspects and cross-loaded terrain features.

The recent wind slabs drifted on top of persistent slabs and deep persistent slabs. The weak layers are facets in the lower snowpack or depth hoar at the bottom. These slabs have become stubborn and harder to trigger, but if you find the right spot, the result will be a large and dangerous avalanche. Avalanche mitigation work last Thursday triggered very large, destructive avalanches (R4D3) with debris piling 12 feet deep. Observers find hard and clean test results.

You can trigger one of these large avalanche by starting a smaller avalanche in the wind slabs, or by hitting a thin spot on the side or lower edge of the persistent slab. That makes it easy to move from relatively safe to very dangerous terrain with just a few steps. You should approach all avalanche terrain with a healthy dose of caution, careful evaluation, and a large margin for error.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mile...Mile & A Half: The Muir Project

Last year I posted a short video from a group of multimedia artists that spent 25 days in 2011 hiking the 219-mile long John Muir Trail. The video was only a small taste of a documentary film the group is currently working on.

More recently, the group published the first official trailer for the documentary, called MILE...MILE & A HALF: A Journey Across The John Muir Trail. I'm really looking forward to seeing the entire film. The incredible scenery from the Sierra Mountains is pure inspiration. For more information on JMT: the Muir Project, you can visit the film crew's website.

Here's the trailer:

MILE...MILE & A HALF (trailer) from The Muir Project on Vimeo.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Temporary Closures In Place to Protect Nesting Raptors in Rocky Mountain National Park

Each year Rocky Mountain National Park officials initiate temporary closures in the Lumpy Ridge and Sheep Mountain areas of the park, in order to protect raptor breeding and nesting sites. To ensure that these birds of prey can nest undisturbed, specific areas within the park are closed temporarily to public use during nesting season, and are monitored by wildlife managers. All closures went into effect on March 1st, and will continue through July 31st. These closures may be extended longer or rescinded at an earlier date depending on nesting activity.

Closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, Alligator Rock, Sheep Mountain, Twin Owls and Rock One. These closures include the named formations as well as areas extending 100 yards surrounding the base of the formation. The perimeter around Alligator Rock extends for 200 yards in all directions. Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. Check the park's website or call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206 for updated information on raptor closures.

The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey. The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers. The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.


Lady Moon Trail in the Roosevelt National Forest Reopens

Roosevelt National Forest officials announced yesterday that the Lady Moon Trail, located south of County Road 74E near Red Feather Lakes, and the area around the trail, reopened following a fuels reduction and hazardous tree removal project in that area.

The project included thinning on approximately 200 acres, and product removal in the mountain pine beetle hit area.

The trail, popular with hikers and horseback riders, was expected to be closed through the winter, but work has been completed allowing the U.S. Forest Service to reopen the area.


Friday, March 1, 2013

First day to reserve backcountry camping permits in Rocky Mountain National Park is today

Today is the first day backpackers can reserve backcountry camping permits for the upcoming summer season in Rocky Mountain National Park. Park officials are warning that phone lines "get super jammed today, so please be patient".

To clarify the rules for backcountry camping permits, backpackers may obtain day-of-trip permits in person year‑round. You can also make reservations by mail or in person anytime after March 1st for a permit for that calendar year.

However, you may only make reservations by phone between March 1st and May 15th, and anytime after October 1st for a permit for that calendar year. To make a reservation you can send to:

Rocky Mountain National Park
Backcountry Office
1000 W. Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517

Or call: (970) 586-1242
TTY: (970) 586-1319

There is a $20 administrative fee for permits during peak season periods that are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

For more information, please visit the Backcountry Camping Guide.


Which park units generate the most spending and jobs?

Earlier this week I mentioned that the National Park Service had published a report that measures the economic impact that national parks have on local communities. Today I wanted to dig a little deeper into the data to see which parks generate the most spending and the most jobs for their respective communities.

Which parks generate the most spending by visitors?

The chart below shows the top 10 park units in terms of overall spending generated by visitors in 2011. I was a little surprised by these results. Generally speaking, I figured that the park units with the most visitors would also have the highest amount of total spending by its visitors. Not so. For example: although the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area ranks 32nd in the total number of visitors for 2011, it ranked 9th in the total amount of spending generated by visitors. Moreover, only five parks that ranked in the top 10 for visitors in 2011, also ranked in the top 10 for visitor spending:

Which park units supported the most jobs?

This analysis was more in line with what I expected. Generally speaking, the park units with the most visitors tended to support the most jobs for the surrounding local communities:

Great Smoky Mountains NP  11,418
Grand Canyon NP  7,361
Grand Teton NP  6,352
Yellowstone NP  5,041
Yosemite NP  5,003
Blue Ridge PKWY  4,379
Acadia NP  2,970
Glen Canyon NRA  2,755
Rocky Mountain NP  2,742
Denali NP & Preserve  2,669

Which park units generated the most spending on a per visitor basis?

Finally, I wanted to see which park units generated the most spending on a per visitor basis. These results were quite interesting. Each of the park units making the top 10 in this category were in Alaska. At first glance you might think that this must seem like some statistical anomaly. However, given how remote each of these parks are from civilization, the cost of services is likely far greater than in the lower 48. I would also guess that transportation costs are likely the biggest drivers in spending. My guess is that many of these parks have local airports and local air services that benefit from park visitors.

Yukon-Charley Rivers NPRES  $1,144
Denali NP & PRES  $394
Aniakchak NM & PRES  $368
Bering Land Bridge NPRES  $345
Gates of the Arctic NP & PRES  $345
Cape Krusenstern NM  $345
Kobuk Valley NP  $344
Noatak NPRES  $344
Lake Clark NP & PRES  $344
Katmai NP & PRES  $257

Not on the list above, but ranked 11th, is Grand Teton National Park, which makes it the highest ranked park outside of Alaska in terms of spending on a per visitor basis ($169).

The George Washington Memorial Parkway in Washington DC has the distinction of having the lowest amount of spending on a per visitor basis - only $4.63.

The lowest ranked national park is Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Alaska. On average, visitors only spend $10.63. Well, you might be asking yourself why this park isn't ranked much higher - given that it's in Alaska. According to the park website; "Most visitors to Glacier Bay see the park from large cruise ships with thousands of passengers. These visitors do not go ashore in the park; instead National Park Service naturalists board the ship to share their knowledge about the park and its wildlife during a day-long cruise in the bay."

I would interpret this to mean that the NPS doesn't count these dollars as being spent in a local community.

To view the entire NPS report, please click here.