Friday, May 31, 2013

Volunteers Needed at Historic Deadman Lookout Tower

The U.S. Forest Service is looking for people who enjoy great views and are not afraid of heights to volunteer as visitor information hosts and amateur fire spotters at the only fire tower remaining on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District in the Roosevelt National Forest.

During the extreme fire conditions of 2012, Deadman Lookout was used by professional firefighters, along with lookout volunteers, as an active fire lookout for the first time in decades.

The historic Deadman Lookout, last officially staffed in the 1970s, is located 15 miles west of Red Feather Lakes at an elevation of 10,700 feet. The lookout is typically snowed in until July. It is then that dedicated volunteers keep the lookout open for scores of stair-climbing visitors through Labor Day.

Climbing into the top of the 1961 lookout is like stepping back in time. Original furniture and equipment are still usable and in place. Volunteers share fire lookout history with visitors, along with providing information on area recreation such as camping, fishing and scenic driving. Volunteers also work as amateur fire spotters for the district.

Hosts volunteer a minimum of two days per season. The lookout is open regularly Friday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hosts need to be in good health, enjoy working with people, and have transportation to and from the lookout.

Evening classroom training on June 26 is required. New volunteers will also spend a training day with a mentor-volunteer at the lookout.

If interested or for additional information, please contact Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or kwumkes@fs.fed.us.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Best Easy Hikes in Glacier National Park

Earlier in the month I published a list of my Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park. After creating the list I realized that many of the trails were fairly long day hikes, which obviously won't appeal to everyone. So I decided to start from scratch and build a new list, based on the best of the easier hikes in the park. Hopefully you'll find this helpful as a starting point in trying to decide where to hike during your visit.

Hidden Lake Overlook – This extremely popular hike, starting from Logan Pass, visits the Hidden Lake Overlook where you’ll have outstanding panoramic views into the heart of Glacier.

Redrock Falls - An outstanding choice for an easy hike. In addition to the very impressive series of cascades and falls, you’ll also visit two picturesque sub-alpine lakes, and maybe even have a chance to see a moose along the way.

Virginia Falls - Dropping more than 50 feet off a sheer cliff face, Virginia Falls just might be one of the most beautiful falls I’ve ever seen. Additionally, waterfall aficionados will get a chance to see St. Mary Falls, and two other very impressive, but unnamed falls along the way.

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail – Take an easy stroll around Swiftcurrent Lake for some outstanding views of the Many Glacier Valley. As a bonus, hikers may even see a bear or a moose along the way.

Johns Lake Loop - Easy loop hike that visits a small woodland pond, Sacred Dancing Cascade, and McDonald Falls.

St. Mary Falls - If you’re looking for a very short hike to see an awesome waterfall, this should fit the bill.

Rocky Point - Stunning views of Lake McDonald, as well as the mountains in the Sperry Glacier vicinity.

Running Eagle Falls - “Trick Falls” is a must see in the Two Medicine Area. It’s a very easy, handicap accessible trail.

Forest and Fire Nature Trail – A great hike if you’re looking to get away from the crowds. Witness the re-growth of a brand new forest as it recovers from the 2001 Moose Fire.

Trail of the Cedars – This popular loop hike travels along a raised boardwalk as it passes though a forest of ancient western hemlocks and red cedars. You’ll also have outstanding views of the stunning Avalanche Gorge.

For more information on Glacier National Park, including details on most of the day hikes, accommodations, and other things to do, please visit our Glacier Natonal Park hiking trails website.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Enter the Telluride 'Take a Hike' Caption Contest

The Telluride Tourism Board is inviting you to enter the Telluride 'Take a Hike' Caption Contest for a chance to win a trip for two that includes:

* A 2-night stay at the Ice House Lodge
* Two Osprey Manta 28 or Mira 26 day-hiking packs
* A Paragon/Bootdoctors day guided hiking tour
* Two custom hiking boot footbeds for the winner and a guest

It's the Summer of Love in Telluride, and the southwestern Colorado mountain town is celebrating the anniversary of some of its most famous festivals. Commemorate the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's 40th year by sharing your best caption for this photo from the 2nd Annual Bluegrass & Country Festival:


All it takes is a little creativity and a lot of votes. Submit your best caption and you'll be automatically entered to win. Then get the votes out! All captions must be submitted by 6/7/13. Voting begins on 6/8/13, and closes 6/13/13. The winner will be announced on 6/14/13.

For more information, and to enter, please click here.

Good Luck!


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Shuttle Access Only For Bear Lake Road Reconstruction Begins

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.

On weekdays beginning today, 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 may 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.

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.

Information on the Bear Lake Road Reconstruction Project is available at www.nps.gov/romo, the park's recorded road status line (970) 586-1222 or through the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bears of Rocky Mountain National Park

You're in bear country! The American Black Bear calls Rocky Mountain National Park home, and when visiting the park you are in bear country. It's estimated that there are roughly 20-24 bears in RMNP, which, interestingly, is the lowest density in North America.

Watch this park video to learn more about Black Bears and how you can avoid negative bear contacts:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fall Photography Multi-Day Workshop in Mesa Verde National Park

Every year thousands of visitors snap photos of the spectacular, world-famous Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. To help you capture the best light and perspective of these remarkable structures in either digital or film cameras, the nonprofit Mesa Verde Museum Association is offering a special fall three-day photography workshop led by well known photographer and Northern Arizona University Professor Emeritus Dr. Gene Balzer.

The workshop is scheduled for October 11-13, 2013, and is limited to 13 participants to ensure plenty of personalized coaching. It begins at noon on Friday and ends on Sunday afternoon. Tuition includes three days of instruction, two nights in-park motel lodging at the Far View Lodge, and all meals including two dinners at the famed Metate Room Restaurant. For further information and registration, visit the Mesa Verde Museum Association website at www.mesaverde.org and click on "Institute," or call 800-305-6053.

Workshop participants will come away with once-in-a-lifetime images of several of Mesa Verde's stunning cliff dwellings. Participants will visit sites around the park at times designed to capture ideal lighting conditions, and will work on compositional skills for compelling images. The group will visit some archeological sites at hours when they're closed to the general public, and will also visit Mug House, a beautiful cliff dwelling that is not normally open for visitors. Pacing will be leisurely so everyone gains as much as possible from their experience.

Since 2006, the non-profit Mesa Verde Museum Association has offered visitors a variety of in-depth learning experiences in Mesa Verde National Park. Through free or low-cost seminars, workshops, lectures, and special programs, visitors of all ages gain a new, behind-the-scenes understanding of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners. Proceeds from all association programs support Mesa Verde National Park.

For further information including photographic equipment needs and rates, or to register, visit the Mesa Verde Museum Association website at www.mesaverde.org and click on "Institute," or call 800-305-6053.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rocky Mountain Trail Conditions Update

Planning to do a little hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend? If so, you should be prepared for snow in the upper elevations of the park. There's still 22 inches of snow on the ground at Bear Lake! Below is some updated information, including a few late spring hiking tips, which were posted on the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page yesterday afternoon:
The weather is looking great for the Memorial Day weekend to get out and enjoy the park. At higher elevations (like Bear Lake) there is still plenty of snow (22” on the ground there today).

Hiking on snow is slippery now. Wear boots with good soles. Hiking poles are very helpful. Stabilizers can be too. As spring snows grow soft in the warm sun, expect to posthole, so gaiters are also helpful to keep your boots and pants dry. Without them and lug-soled waterproof boots, you will be wet, cold, and slipping around.

Stay away from steep snowfields. Many visitors have been injured or killed after taking long slides in the snowfields. Stay away from the edges of lakes and streams. Ice is melting and the amount of water runoff will increase dramatically with the warmer temperatures. Creeks and streams that were easy to cross in the morning may become impassible in the afternoon. Use extreme caution around fast-moving water. Remember! Safety is Your Responsibility.
For the latest trail conditions from around the park, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, May 24, 2013

Trail Ridge Road Will Open Today For The Season

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will open late morning today (Friday, May 24th). Due to heavy melting on the road during the day and freezing temperatures at night, visitors should plan for likely night closures in their travel plans. The Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store are expected to open sometime next week.

Trail Ridge Road historically opens on Memorial Day weekend; last year the road opened early on May 14. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, climbing to 12,183 feet and connecting the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road officially closed for the season last year on October 17.

National Park Service plow operators normally begin clearing the snow in the middle of April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet at the Alpine Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is the highest in the National Park Service, sitting at 11,796 feet above sea level. Spring storms often impact plowing activities. This year, plow operators encountered average snow drifts from 18 to 22 feet. Much of the snow came in the early spring.

Park staff expect a busy Memorial Day Weekend. The two reservation campgrounds in the park are full on Saturday and Sunday and the first come, first served campgrounds are expected to fill. From lower elevations the mountain peaks look majestic with blankets of snow. The park's backcountry still looks and feels like winter above 9,000 feet. Because weather conditions may change rapidly, park visitors should be prepared to adjust travel plans accordingly and are encouraged to call the park's Trail Ridge Road recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222. Park staff will update the recorded line during and after regular office hours, when the road status changes.

For information on hiking in the park, please visit RockyMountainHikingTrails.com.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Memorial Day Weekend on the Arapaho National Forest

Eleven campgrounds on the Sulphur Ranger District in Grand County, Colorado will be open today for the Memorial Day Weekend, and with a forecast of warm weather and sunny skies, it should be an ideal time to enjoy the Arapaho National Forest.

Late spring snows and recent rains have left much of the Forest’s road system soggy and mucky, so gates will remain closed across much of the Forest, and seasonal closures are still in place to protect the road surface. According to the ranger district’s Motor Vehicle Use Map, which can be obtained for free at the district office in Granby, the majority of National Forest roads become available for use around June 15th. The lower portions of several roads, including Vasquez, Beaver Creek, Crooked Creek and Kawuneeche may have a few sites available for dispersed camping, although the ground in these areas may still be wet.

The Arapaho National Recreation Area is an ideal place to recreate at this time of year with seven developed picnic areas, six campgrounds (all of which are open) great fishing piers, boat ramps and trailheads. Lower than average water levels in Lake Granby create expansive beaches where the family can play. Monarch Lake loop is a very popular early season trail and offers a visitors cabin where you can learn more about the history of the area. Portions of that trail, as well as many others on the district, are still snowy and muddy, so if you plan to hike the entire loop be sure to wear appropriate footwear.

In the Winter Park area, Idlewild and St. Louis Creek campgrounds both open this weekend as well. Denver Creek Campground on Colorado Highway 125 is also open. Water may not be available in all campgrounds so be sure to call ahead or check the Sulphur Ranger District recreation webpage.

Due to the wet conditions, off-highway vehicles are currently restricted from riding on motorized trails and roads until the seasonal closure is lifted on June 15th. And, while mountain bikes may not be prohibited from various trails, staying on dry trails will help minimize resource damage.

For additional information you can stop by the Sulphur Ranger District Office at 9 Ten Mile Drive in Granby to pick up maps, information about wildlife, souvenirs and books. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays. You can also call 970-887-4100, or visit the USFS website at www.fs.usda.gov\arp.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area in Waldo Canyon Area to Open Tomorrow

The Pikes Peak Ranger District on the Pike National Forest expects to open over 40% of the Waldo Canyon Burn Area to visitors Friday, May 24, 2013. The opening will include the Rampart Reservoir Recreation Area trail, campgrounds, picnic sites and National Forest System Roads 307, 311 and 313 (also known as the Schubarth Road).

According to District Ranger Alan Hahn, “Since the Waldo Canyon fire, we have accomplished a considerable about of work at the recreation sites and the trail around the Reservoir. Our goal is to provide a safe environment for forest visitors.” Next spring forest managers will re-evaluate and determine if additional acres can be open to the public.

The remainder of the Waldo Canyon Burn Area will be closed until further notice. The Waldo Canyon Trail #640 is not open because the steep valleys pose public danger during a major rain event which could trap visitors in low lying areas. Hazards exist such as falling rocks and dead trees, unstable ground and hidden stump holes. In several areas, it is almost impossible to climb to higher ground given the extremely steep terrain. The Closure also allows new vegetation to grow without being trampled. Addition re-vegetation projects will take place throughout the year.

Small water craft with electric motors can be launched from the shore at Rampart Reservoir. Visitors are cautioned that the water level at the Reservoir is expected to be low and the boat launch and ramp will be closed. No boats or motor vehicles will be allowed to cross the dam. Nichols Reservoir, south of the dam, is empty and is included in the new Closure Order. Stanley Canyon Reservoir is also empty.

“Please be patient and understand that this landscape has been dramatically altered. Our concern for your safety is paramount” said Hahn.

Public safety is a challenge because of the Burn Area’s proximity to the City of Colorado Springs and heavy visitor use in the past. According to Law Enforcement Officer Tom Healy, “The Closure Order is in place for personal safety and to protect the landscape by allowing it to heal.” Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the open areas. Violators are subject to a maximum fine of $5,000.

The revised Waldo Canyon Fire Closure Special Order and map will be located here. For further information please contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District at 719-636-1602.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Celebrate Spring With Saturday Evening Programs At Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park officials have announced two Saturday evening programs occurring over the next two weeks:

Bear Necessities: Black Bears in Rocky Mountain National Park

On Saturday, May 25 at 7:00 p.m. join park ranger Sue Langdon to explore Rocky's black bears and their lifestyles. Rocky has a relatively small population of black bears compared to many other national parks. Yet, these forest roaming bears still make an impression to visitors in the most surprising places throughout the park!

Bears can completely surprise people with their activities and it is easy for people to mis-interpret what a bear is about to do. Does a bear standing upright on its hind feet mean it is ready to attack? What do bears prefer to eat? Is it humans or ants? Find out the truth about black bears and what they need to survive and thrive in Rocky Mountain National Park.

What's up with these forests? Mountain pine beetle impacts in Rocky Mountain National Park

On Saturday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. learn the latest about the mountain pine beetle and their impacts on our forests. The recent mountain pine beetle outbreak has left a vast number of dead trees in its wake. From a distance it can appear as though entire forests are dying, but research suggests that many trees and seedlings have survived. This presentation will discuss mountain pine beetle ecology, impacts in the park, and how forests may change in the future as a result of this disturbance.

Join Katie Renwick, a PhD candidate at Colorado State University who spent last summer in the Rocky Mountain Nature Association fellowship program. Her research focuses on understanding how climate change and disturbance affect landscape-scale patterns of forest composition. She has been conducting research in Rocky Mountain National Park since 2010.

Both programs are free, and will be held at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Turquoise Lake Remains Frozen | Campgrounds Opening Without Potable Water

The Leadville Ranger District on the San Isabel National Forest is notifying recreationists that the Turquoise Lake Recreation Area near Leadville will not have water for human consumption available at the campgrounds. This is a temporary situation lasting through the Memorial Holiday weekend. Late winter weather and continued cold nights have kept the water lines and the lake frozen.

The affected USFS facilities in Lake County are: Father Dyer, Tabor, Lady of the Lake, Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Printer Boy, Molly Brown, Silver Dollar, Matchless and Maid of Erin. Potable water will be unavailable at these sites until further notice.

Campers choosing to cancel reservations will be given refunds and campers choosing to stay at these sites will be charged a reduced rate because water is not provided. If you are camping, bring water for washing, drinking and, of course, drowning campfires.

Turquoise Lake remains frozen and the water level is below the boat ramps. There will be no fishing or boating available at this lake. However, nearby Twin lakes is available for both of these recreation activities.

For additional information please contact the Leadville Ranger District at 719-486-0749.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Last November we announced the official launch of RockyMountainHikingTrails.com. Today I wanted to offer you a list of my top 10 hikes in case you're considering a visit to this beautiful national park. If you're unfamiliar with the park, hopefully you'll find this list to be a helpful guide as you make your vacation plans.

Hallett Peak - For those that feel that Longs Peak is just a little too hard, or maybe too dangerous, Hallett Peak just might be the perfect mountain to satisfy your big mountain, “summit fever”. Reaching a height of 12,713 feet, the mountain provides a great opportunity to feel like you’re on top of the Rockies, without being exposed to dangerous drop-offs

Chasm Lake - Hands down this is the best lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to outstanding panoramic views on the way up, you’ll have a front row view of the famous “Diamond”, the east-facing wall of Longs Peak which rises more than 2,400 feet above this incredibly beautiful alpine lake.

Emerald Lake - The hike to Emerald Lake takes you deep into the Tyndall Gorge, and visits three other beautiful subalpine lakes along the way. Although Bear Lake and Dream Lake are nice stops, Emerald Lake is the true gem in this chain of lakes fed by the Tyndall Glacier.

Ute Trail - Want great panoramic views without having to climb a lot of altitude? The Ute Trail is the perfect choice. This relatively flat hike along Tombstone Ridge offers hikers the chance to explore the alpine tundra zone, while soaking in the outstanding views of Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park and Estes Park.

Sky Pond - Surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff walls, Sky Pond offers hikers a dramatic scene. What makes this hike a RMNP classic is that you’ll visit two waterfalls and two other stunning lakes along the way. However, the scramble next to Timberline Falls to reach the basin may present a challenge for people with a fear of heights.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake TH - As a result of Rocky Mountain National Park’s excellent shuttle system, hikers have the option of taking the spectacular one-way hike from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead in Moraine Park. Along the way you’ll visit four magnificent lakes, a 60-foot waterfall, plus you’ll make the spectacular descent into the Odessa Gorge.

Lake Helene - Although Lake Helene is denoted on the official park map, the side trail leading to its shore isn’t marked with a trail sign. Don’t let this deter you - this is one of the most scenic lakes in the park.

Bluebird Lake - This is another hike that offers several attractions along the way, including three waterfalls. Bluebird Lake, which fills a deep cirque beneath Ouzel Peak along the Continental Divide, is the star attraction.

The Keyhole on Longs Peak - This hike should probably rank higher, but I had to take it down a few notches due to its level of difficulty. In terms of distance and elevation gain, this is a very difficult hike. The terrain - crossing the Boulder Field and then making the scramble up to the Keyhole - makes this an extremely difficult hike, and is likely the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. However, the payoff is quite large. The views along the way, as well as from the Keyhole itself, are simply amazing.

Lake Haiyaha - Lying in the heart of Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha offers a stunning vista of the surrounding area. From its rugged shore hikers will have outstanding views of Otis Peak and Hallett Peak.

If you think most of these hikes are too long, or maybe too strenuous, check out my list of the Best Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell Highlight Federal Preparedness for 2013 Western Wildfire Season

During a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlined the Federal Government's efforts to ensure collaboration in protecting Americans from wildfire, and urged homeowners and local communities to take steps to reduce their risks during the 2013 fire season. The outlook for the fire season is severe across much of the Western United States.


"The US Forest Service, Federal fire managers and crews will continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and our natural resources during what could be a challenging wildfire season," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are working together to preposition our firefighting teams and equipment to make the most effective use of available resources during this time of constrained budgets."

"One of our greatest strengths in wildfire management is that Federal, Tribal, State, and local government agencies recognize that the challenge is too great for any one organization to tackle on its own," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "As regions across the country face serious risks of wildfires this season, the work ongoing at the National Interagency Fire Center is important to ensure that we're doing everything we can to protect lives, communities and our natural resources. The public also has an important role to play, and I encourage homeowners and communities to take proactive steps when it comes to preparedness, prevention and safety."

This year, significant fire potential is predicted to be above normal in much of the West, including almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Idaho; and portions of Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. In 2012, 9.3 million acres of private, state, and federal land, and more than 4,400 structures burned in wildfires. That was the third highest number of acres burned since at least 1960, the earliest date with reliable records.

On average, Forest Service and Interior agencies respond to tens of thousands of wildfires per year, suppressing all but a small percentage during the first burning period. However, the few fires that cannot be suppressed during the initial stages run the risk of becoming much larger.

Federal assets include more than 13,000 firefighters, including permanent and seasonal federal employees; more than 1,600 engines; up to 26 multiengine air tankers and two water scooper aircrafts; approximately 27 single engine air tankers; and hundreds of helicopters. At the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighting experts from multiple government agencies continuously monitor fire activity, weather and fuel conditions while strategically positioning Federal firefighters, ground equipment and aircraft to support wildfires across the country as the season shifts.

During their visit, Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell urged the public to do their part to help prevent wildfires while preparing for fire season, noting that most wildfires are human-caused. They urged residents of the more than 70,000 communities at risk from wildfires to take proactive steps and improve safety by developing community wildfire protection plans. Communities and residents can access educational resources available at www.fireadapted.org; and through the "Firewise," and "Ready, Set, Go!" programs.

More than 590 million acres of public lands are in significant need of restoration, including thinning and prescribed burning, due to the cumulative impacts of wildfire, insects and disease, and drought. More than 1,000 post-fire assessments show that these types of restoration efforts are effective in reducing wildfire severity. Forest Service and Interior continue to focus restoration treatments on high-priority areas to lessen the impacts of wildfire when it happens.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center Grand Opening Ceremony

Mesa Verde National Park cordially invites the public to join the Honorable John Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado and local dignitaries in a Grand Opening Ceremony for its new Visitor and Research Center (VRC). The ceremony will take place on May 23rd at 10:00 a.m. at the VRC, located just off Highway 160 before the park entrance stations. Governor Hickenlooper will be signing Senate Bill 13-270, Wildfire Preparedness and Emergency Response Funds at the conclusion of the ceremony.

The 23,620 square foot VRC consists of two components: a 16,256 square foot Research and Collection Facility and a 7,364 square foot visitor information center. The VRC houses the park's collection of over 3,000,000 artifacts as well as its archives. The archive and collection areas will be open to the public for viewing on Thursday, May 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Friday, May 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Monday, May 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Other events taking place over the Memorial Day Weekend include:

* May 24 Concert by Four Corners Community Band, 7:00 p.m., Morefield Amphitheater

* May 25 Indian Arts and Culture Festival, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., VRC

* May 25 Rug Auction, 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Morefield Campground Store Patio

* May 25 Pueblo Indian Dances, 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., VRC

* May 26 Indian Arts and Culture Festival, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., VRC

* May 26 Pueblo Indian Dances, 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., VRC

The VRC received the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the Council's highest rating for sustainable buildings.

Entrance fees to the park will be waived to help celebrate the occasion. Everyone is invited to enjoy a free visit in the park that day. Come join the celebration on Thursday, May 23 beginning at 10:00 a.m. For additional information call 970-529-4465.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Opens 2013 Let’s Camp! Program for First-time Campers

Calling all new campers and those who’ve always wanted to learn to camp. Registration is now open for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 2013 Let’s Camp! program. This year’s program will be held at Cheyenne Mountain State Park and Lake Pueblo State Park. Let’s Camp! covers all the fundamentals of camping, from setting up tents to smoothly taking things down in a safe and comfortable setting.

Offered in partnership with The North Face’s Explore Your Parks, the Let’s Camp! program introduces families to the great outdoors with experienced staff and volunteers who are available to answer questions and teach the basics in a relaxing and fun environment. No prior outdoor experience is required.

The overnight adventure will include all the fundamentals of camping, from set up to break down in a safe, comfortable, and relaxed setting. This program is perfect for beginners who are looking to develop confidence for rewarding outdoor experiences in the future.

All equipment except food, sleeping bags and personal utensils/dishes will be available for participants who need it. Don’t worry, the program will also provide you with a list of food you should bring and show you how to cook it, camping style!

The Let’s Camp! Program will take place from Sunday morning through Monday afternoon.

The cost is $34 per family/group at Lake Pueblo State Park, or $40 per group at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Groups can have up to six participants and a maximum of two tents. One 6-person tent will be provided.

· June 2-3: Lake Pueblo State Park ($34)
· June 30-July 1: Cheyenne Mountain State Park ($40)
· July 14-15: Cheyenne Mountain State Park ($40)
· Aug. 4-5: Lake Pueblo State Park ($34)

Space is limited to ten families per program so early registration is encouraged. For more information about the Let’s Camp! Program and to reserve your spot today, click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation in Rocky Mountain National Park (Part 2)

Yesterday we showed a video featuring Park Ranger Michael Edwards as he discusses how the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is impacting Rocky Mountain National Park. A recent report published by the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service has estimated that nearly 3.4 million acres of forest have been in infested in Colorado, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

Below is part 2 in this video series that was produced by Nick Molle for EPTV Channel 8 in Estes Park. Ranger Edwards explains why the beetle has become an epidemic, and what the park is doing to help stop it:





Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Department of the Interior Announces 2013 "Share the Experience" Photo Contest

The Department of the Interior has announced the start of the 2013 "Share the Experience" contest, giving amateur photographers the chance to join the ranks of Ansel Adams, Thomas Moran, and others who have found recognition for their photographs of the nation's public lands.

The "Share the Experience" photo contest showcases our nation's public lands, including national wildlife refuges, forests, recreation areas and our national parks, such as Glacier, Rocky Mountain and the Great Smoky Mountains, and draws entries from all across the United States. It is the largest national park and public land photo contest for amateur photographers.

The winning photograph will appear on the 2015 America the Beautiful pass for entrance to 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests. All entries have the chance to be featured on the Interior Department’s popular Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Prizes provided by the National Park Foundation, Active Network, Air Wick and Historic Hotels of America include a $15,000 cash prize, a Columbia backpack, a pass to the national parks and other federal lands, and other items for the grand prize winner. Second and third place winners, as well as 7 Honorable Mention winners, will also receive prizes.

The "Share the Experience" begins May 10, 2013 and runs through December 31, 2013. Amateur photographers can participate by uploading photos on www.sharetheexperience.org.

"Share the Experience" is sponsored by Active Network, Air Wick, Historic Hotels of America and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

To view the 2012 contest winners as wells as the contest rules and a complete list of prizes, please see www.sharetheexperience.org.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

The Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation in Rocky Mountain National Park (Part 1)

If you've been to Rocky Mountain National Park in recent years you've probably noticed a lot of dead lodgepole pine trees throughout the park. This is the unfortunate result of the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, which is impacting forests throughout the western United States. A recent report published by the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service is estimating that nearly 3.4 million acres of forest have been in infested in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996.

Below is a video featuring Park Ranger Michael Edwards as he discusses how the infestation is impacting Rocky Mountain National Park. This is part 1 of a two-part video series that was produced by Nick Molle in 2010 for EPTV Channel 8 in Estes Park:


Tomorrow we'll show the final part in this series.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, May 13, 2013

National Trails Day 2013

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan authorized the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors. The final report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors, and within fifteen minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps. The recommendation, dubbed Trails for All Americans, became the impetus behind several public and private parties joining the American Hiking Society in launching the first National Trails Day in 1993.

In less than three weeks, on June 1st, the American Hiking Society will celebrate its 21th National Trails Day. More than 2000 events across the nation will take place, including trail maintenance, hiking, paddling, biking, horseback riding, bird watching, running, trail celebrations and many other trail related events.

Below are a few events in Colorado that might be of interest to hikers:

* Trail maintenance, followed by lunch and a raffle, in the Boulder Ranger District of the Roosevelt NF

* Rockwork in Eldorado Canyon State Park


* Work on the Frisco Peninsula in Summit County

* Trail Maintenance with the Larimer County Horseman's Association

For a full list of events in your area, please click here.






Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tree Planting on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District

More than 5,600 ponderosa pine and limber pine trees are being planted mid-May in the Bellaire Lake, Dowdy Lake, and West Lake campgrounds on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest.

The trees being planted were grown from seeds collected within the vicinity of these recreation areas and were sown at the U.S. Forest Service’s Bessey Nursery in Nebraska. The Bessey Nursery is the oldest federal nursery and produces an average of 750,000 seedlings for vital restoration and conservation projects throughout the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service.

These trees are being planted to replace some of those lost to the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Many of these killed trees were removed from the Bellaire Lake Campground in January. At both Dowdy Lake and West Lake campgrounds, many older ponderosa pines have been preserved by spraying to avoid mountain pine beetle attacks. Planting at these sites provides a wide range of ages from young to old trees.

This planting is taking place by contractors with U.S. Forest Service oversight. Following planting, the new seedlings will be protected by fencing and netted tubes that surround each tree. An Eagle Scout project will also take place following the planting to install the protective nets, thanks to Troop 82. Forest visitors are asked to be careful to avoid these new trees to give them the best chance of survival. The trees will be watered periodically throughout the summer to assist in their success.

If the public is interested in planting trees for our future forest, then National Public Lands Day on the district is the place to be on Sept. 28, 2013. The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is currently planning the event to include more tree and shrub planting at Bellaire Lake Campground.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, May 10, 2013

Two-Day Grand Opening for Colorado's Newest State Park

It’s been almost 30 years since Frances H. Staunton turned over her 1,720-acre mountain ranch to the State of Colorado, stipulating that it was "to be preserved in perpetuity" as a state park. Frances died in 1989, but, on May 18th, her vision for the land near Conifer becomes reality. Her namesake park, Staunton State Park, opens to the public with two days of activities for all ages.

Park hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the grand opening weekend only. Beginning Monday, May 20, the park’s regular summer hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.


On-going activities throughout the weekend will give visitors a sampling of the myriad recreational opportunities available in Staunton State Park. This includes fishing, rock climbing, hiking (more than 20 miles of trails), horseback riding, mountain biking, and kid's activities. The full line-up of activities, with their scheduled times, is on the park’s website http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/staunton/Pages/Staunton.aspx.

Special presentations this weekend include period music from the early days of the American West by Rex Rideout of Time Travel Music, demonstrations by the Front Range Back Country Horsemen, and live raptor presentations by the Raptor Education Foundation and Wild Wings Environmental Education.

Some activities will be by reservation only. These include naturalist guided walks to view the park's exceptional natural and cultural resources. Reservations can be made by emailing staunton.park@state.co.us or by calling 303-816-0912. Spaces are limited.

Event parking is available at the Mountain View RTD Park-N-Ride, 11770 US Hwy 285, Conifer, and Elk Creek Elementary School, 13304 S Hwy 285 Frontage Road, Pine. A free shuttle service will ferry visitors to and from the park, beginning at 9 a.m. each day. The last shuttle will leave the park at 4 p.m. Although dogs on leashes and bikes will be permitted in the park, the shuttles cannot transport dogs or bicycles this weekend. Handicap accessible parking is available in the park.

The brand new Staunton State Park is a mosaic of low grasslands, rocky foothills, soaring granite cliffs, and lush stream corridors. Dramatic Elk Falls drops nearly 100 feet into North Elk Creek and spectacular Lions Head is the park’s rocky sentry. Historical human uses include ranching, the Staunton family retreat, a turn-of-the-20th century saw mill, and a sportsman’s club. The Staunton Ranch is the heart of the park. Later acquisitions of the historic Elk Falls and Davis Ranches and property owned by Colorado’s first Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Mary Coyle Chase, author of "Harvey," expanded the park to approximately 3,800 acres. The park is located about six miles west of Conifer, 1.5 miles north of U.S. Highway 285 on Elk Creek Road.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Colorado Ranked 2nd by League of American Bicyclists

Last week the League of American Bicyclists published their list of the most Bicycle Friendly States. For the sixth year in a row the state of Washington leads all 50 states. The second most friendly state on that list was Colorado.

The rankings are based on five broad parameters: Legislation and enforcement, Policies and programs, Infrastructure and funding, Education and encouragement, and Evaluation and planning.

According to the national bicycling advocacy group, Colorado ranked 2nd for several reasons, including:

• Colorado is a model for bicycling traffic laws. Ensure that laws in communities across the state provide safety and accessibility for bicyclists.

• The state has added bicycle safety as an emphasis area in the state Strategic Highway Safety Plan and aggressively fund bike safety projects

Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, told the League of American Bicyclists that, “An important part of making Colorado the healthiest state is encouraging people to be more active in their everyday routines. We’re proud that our bicycle-friendly policies have skyrocketed Colorado’s rank up 20 places in just five years, and we are committed to being No. 1 in the near future.”

Here's the full list of states and how they ranked according to the 2013 study:



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

The 22nd Annual Arkansas River Cleanup

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) announces the 22nd Annual Arkansas River Cleanup/Greenup on Saturday, May 18th from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 pm.

AHRA invites individuals and groups of all ages to help clean up the public lands and waters of the Arkansas River to maintain the health of the areas where we love to relax and recreate. Low flows and warm temperatures last year took a toll on the area. A lot of plastics, cans and other debris ended up in the bushes and grassy areas along the riverbanks.

"We need to get rid of this unwanted and unhealthy trash to protect and restore the resource and its vegetation and wildlife," said Rose Bayless of AHRA.

Individuals and groups can sign up on May 18, between 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Buena Vista Community Center parking area on East Main Street in Buena Vista and the AHRA Visitor Center at 307 W. Sackett Street in Salida.

Volunteers will receive trash bags and a “CLEANUP” button that will serve as their ticket to the volunteer picnic from noon - 3:30 p.m. at Riverside Park in Salida. Prizes will be given, so remember to save any unique and interesting trash items and bring them to the picnic for the “trash contest.”

"We count on the cooperation of our valued volunteers to make the cleanup a success. Each year over 200 volunteers pick up over a ton of garbage from sofas to soda bottles," said Bayless.

AHRA looks forward to seeing a good turnout on May 18 to give a little back to the river that gives so much to all of us! Call AHRA at 719-539-7289 or GARNA at 719-539-5106 for more information.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association and the U.S. Forest Service sponsor the Arkansas River Cleanup/Greenup.


Great deals on men's everyday apparel on Clymb365!



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Celebrate Archeology and Historic Preservation Month in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park will present "Discovering Rocky's Historic Landscape: A Sense of Place" for Archeology and Historic Preservation Month, celebrated to highlight important historic resources that give meaning and a sense of place to communities. The presentation is on Saturday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center auditorium in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park has a long human history which is represented in its buildings and structures from Native American occupation until the present. Learn how the National Historic Preservation Act protects the marks left on the landscape that tell the story of past generations.

Danielle Bonnici is a former seasonal National Park Service interpreter and a University of Colorado Denver graduate student in Historic Preservation. She will be accompanied by Karen Waddell, park cultural resources specialist.

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Planning a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park this year? Please help support RockyMountainHikingTrails.com by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Injured Hiker’s Rescue Requires "Marathon Evacuation Effort" in Black Canyon

NPS Digest is reporting that the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s SAR team and Ouray Mountain Rescue successfully evacuated an injured hiker from the Black Canyon’s S.O.B. Route Saturday evening. The operation – possibly the longest scree evacuation in recent years – required the efforts of 20 rescuers and support staff, took more than 24 hours, and required the establishment of multiple hauling stations to move the injured hiker through thick brush up 1800 feet of loose rock and boulders, cliffs and ledges.

Rangers responded to a SPOT locator signal late Friday. An EMT and a paramedic spent the night with the injured Colorado Springs man, stabilized his broken lower leg, and provided support until the rescue could begin early Saturday morning.

The park warns that there are no maintained or marked trails into the inner canyon. "Routes are difficult to follow, and only individuals in excellent physical condition should attempt these hikes." The S.O.B. Route is suggested for the first time North Rim inner canyon hiker. It drops 1800 feet to the Gunnison River in just 1.75 miles.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

2013 Bear Lake Road Reconstruction

In early 2012 a major road construction project began on the lower section of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Much of the work was completed in 2012, however much remains to be done. The 5.1-mile section of Bear Lake Road that will be impacted this year is from the junction of Trail Ridge Road/Highway 36, to the Park & Ride / Glacier Basin Campground intersection.

This 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 also be enhanced by the wider road.

Weather permitting, the road construction project is estimated to be completed by late summer of this year. The following are what park visitors can expect in terms of delays:

* 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.

* 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.

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

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.

Information on the Bear Lake Road Reconstruction Project is available at www.nps.gov/romo, the park's recorded road status line (970) 586-1222 or through the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park

Planning a visit to Glacier National Park this summer?  Check out our sister website for the "Crown of the Continent" in Montana. Just like RockyMountainHikingTrails.com, HikinginGlacier.com provides details on the best day hikes in the park.

Many people who are unfamiliar, or are making their very first visit to Glacier, want to know what the best day hikes are in the park. Below are my personal top ten hikes in Glacier. Hopefully this will be a helpful starting point as you try to decide where you want to hike during your visit.

Highline Loop – This world famous hike should be on the bucket list of any self respecting hiker. The incredible views, the wildlife and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life.

Piegan Pass – Just a notch below the Highline Trail on the“awesome meter”, but far less crowded.

Ptarmigan Tunnel – If you’re anywhere near Many Glacier, the hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel shouldn’t be passed up. The highlight of the hike is passing through a 240-foot tunnel that cuts a hole through the Ptarmigan Wall. It was built for horses and early park tours by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930's. After hiking all day in the Many Glacier Valley, walking to the other side of the tunnel is like walking into another world.

Grinnell Glacier - Another extremely popular hike in the Many Glacier area. This one visits the famous 300-acre glacier that sits just below the Continental Divide.

Preston Park - One of my favorite areas in Glacier is Preston Park. It’s a large, incredibly beautiful alpine meadow, located in the valley between Mt. Siyeh and Matahpi Peak (near Logan Pass).

Iceberg Lake - One of the most popular hikes in Glacier. And for good reason. This is a great opportunity to see icebergs floating in a gorgeous alpine lake. You’ll also have commanding views of the Ptarmigan Wall, an arĂȘte, or thin ridge of rock separating two valleys that have been carved by glaciers.

Cracker Lake - Cracker Lake in the Many Glacier area has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The lake has the most magnificent turquoise color you’ll ever see. If you could ignore the magnificent scenery of the surrounding mountains, it would still be well worth the hike just to see the amazing color of the lake. If it weren’t for the walk through a long section of forest, I would’ve ranked this one a little higher.

Pitamakan Pass - Dawson Pass usually gets all the attention in Two Medicine. However, at least for me, I think the views from Pitamakan Pass are much more dramatic. From the knife-edge pass you can see five lakes on either side of you.

Scenic Point - The rock outcropping that sits above alpine tundra meadows offers stunning panoramic views of the Two Medicine Valley. On a clear day you can even see the Sweet Grass Hills rising above the Great Plains 90 miles away!

Dawson Pass - One of the most popular backcountry hikes in the Two Medicine area is the one up to Dawson Pass. The hike can be shortened to just 9.4 miles by taking the shuttle boat across Two Medicine Lake.

For more information on Glacier National Park, including details on most of the day hikes, accommodations, and other things to do, please visit our new Glacier National Park hiking trails website.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bear killed, dumped in Snowmass Village

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating the death of bear found dumped near a trash enclosure in the Two Creeks subdivision in the Town of Snowmass Village Saturday morning.

Officials are asking the public for any information that may lead to the individual or individuals responsible.

"Even the smallest detail may help," said District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright. "It's often that information from the public helps us solve a case like this."

Officers believe someone killed the adult sow Friday evening before taking the carcass to the trash enclosure overnight. They are pursuing leads from evidence gathered at the scene and have performed a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

"Killing a bear and abandoning the carcass is a serious offense," said Wright. "However, the person who did this still has the opportunity to do the right thing and turn themselves in."

Wright reminds the public to contact the nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife office to report any conflict with wildlife.

Anyone who may have information about this incident can call Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Glenwood Springs office at 970-947-2920. To remain anonymous, call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available if the information leads to a citation.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Exploring Colorado's Backcountry Huts

Later this month hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers will have the chance to meet the staff from the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association at the REI in Boulder.

Whether you're an experienced hut user, or have always wanted to know more about the hut system, this presentation will help send you on your way to one of the 33 huts waiting for you in the high country between Aspen, Vail, and Leadville, including the just-opened Broome Hut near U.S. Highway 40 and Winter Park.

The presentation will be held at the REI in Boulder on May 30th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. To register for the free event, please click here .

For more information on the hut system you can visit: www.huts.org


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Estes Park Promise

Well, the folks doing the marketing and promotions for Estes Park certainly did a great job on this short video:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, May 3, 2013

Canyon Lakes Ranger District’s Mountain Pine Beetle Spraying Has Begun - Expect Temporary Closures

Multiple recreation areas will be impacted due to efforts related to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, including hazard tree cutting and spraying more than 9,500 trees.

Contract crews are spraying trees in select campgrounds and day-use areas on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District this spring and summer. Contractors spray Carbaryl and U.S. Forest Service crews monitor operations and conditions. Spraying is very dependent on calm weather, which began April 29th. More than 900 trees have been sprayed to date, but spraying was put on hold today until May 10th due to the snow. Spraying is occurring at these locations:

* Bellaire Campground and Day-use
* Dowdy Campground and Day-use (temporary closure expected)
* Mountain Park Campground and Day-use
* Jacks Gulch Campground
* West Lake Campground and Day-use
* Tunnel Campground

Many of the district’s picnic areas and trailheads could have temporary closures throughout the spring, summer and fall for hazard tree cutting. The Manhattan dispersed camping area and Deadman Lookout Tower could also experience temporary impacts. Check the website or call visitor information specialists at 970-295-6700 before heading out. Also make sure to check the status of roads across the district, as hazard tree cutting activities will continue on Long Draw Road, closing it for the summer and fall, as well as other forest roads.

For the latest status of recreation areas and roads, please visit www.fs.usda.gov/arp or call our visitor information office. The Forest Service will try to keep the public updated of changes through our website and/or twitter account at twitter.com/usfsclrd.

Forest visitors should be extremely cautious when recreating in the Roosevelt National Forest. Avoid patches of dead trees, especially on windy days. Also, make sure to park vehicles and place tents in areas away from dead trees and take a saw or ax with you to remove fallen trees from roads to avoid becoming trapped. Remember, your safety is your responsibility. Dead and live trees can fall without warning. For additional safety information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/hazardtrees.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring Snowstorms Bring Snowpack Levels Back to Long-term Averages

The snowstorm that socked the Rocky Mountains yesterday dumped nearly 20 inches of snow at Bear Lake. This storm, along with one other major and several smaller storms during the month of April, brought some much needed drought relief, and possibly fire relief later this summer and fall.

As recently as April 7th, the Bear Lake SNOTEL was reporting that the 2013 water year, which runs from October 1st through September 30th, was 6.7 inches below the average year-to-date total precipitation amount (all forms of precipitation from 1981-2010). As of yesterday, the gap was only 2 inches of precipitation (20.8" current levels versus 22.8" average). However, according to an April 15th posting on the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page, the park "missed a week during the Fern Lake Fire of taking measurements this year", which means the data from the Bear Lake SNOTEL is possibly not "an exact measurement". Meaning, the gap could be even smaller.

Judging from other SNOTEL sites in and around Rocky Mountain National Park, this appears to be the case:

* The SNOTEL at Lake Irene (near Milner Pass) is reporting 24.6 inches of precipitation this water year, which surpasses the long-term average of 24.2 inches.

* The SNOTEL at Wild Basin (SE corner of park) is reporting 18.1 inches of precipitation this water year, versus an average of 18.4 inches.

* The SNOTEL at Stillwater Creek (near Granby) is reporting 12.0 inches of precipitation this water year, just below the average of 12.2 inches.

* The SNOTEL in the Never Summer Mountains is reporting 21.8 inches of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), which is the weight of snow water equivalent to inches of water. I had to use this measurement because the website couldn't report on the long-term averages for precipitation amounts for this location. The SWE for the Never Summer location matched the long-term average for May 2nd.

To get an idea of how much improvement has occurred in the precipitation amounts at Lake Irene this past month, take a look at the chart below. The blue line represents the long-term average, while the red line represents the current water year:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Bridge Work To Close Access to Endovalley Road in Rocky Mountain National Park This Month

On Tuesday, May 7th, work is scheduled to begin on the surface of the Roaring River Bridge near the Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park. This work will take place from Tuesday through Thursday for three weeks, weather permitting. The project will be completed by Thursday, May 23rd.

Access will be allowed to the east Alluvial Fan parking lot but the road will be closed beyond that point Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Parking is limited. Visitors can walk on the Alluvial Fan trail to access the Endovalley road beyond where the bridge work is taking place, the Endovalley picnic area and old Fall River Road. Bicyclists will be allowed to drive over the bridge when work stoppages allow. Bridge work will not take place Fridays through Mondays.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206 or visit www.nps.gov/romo.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

High Park Fire BAER Activities Begin Again; Closure Area Increases

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is beginning Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) activities on National Forest System (NFS) lands on the High Park Fire burn area starting as soon as May 6.

Next week, those in the vicinity of the Poudre Canyon could see helicopters flying overhead. They are doing aerial mulching on high priority areas, where the fire burned at a high intensity potentially damaging the soil and causing run-off concerns. Last year, 881 acres were mulched with wood shreds. This spring and early summer approximately 4,700 acres will be treated with agricultural straw. Treatment is expected to continue, as conditions allow, through July 1.

Adjacent landowners are being informed of the mulching plans. There is a 300 foot buffer next to private land; however, some mulch could unintentionally land on private land.

For safety and rehabilitation reasons, the area closure currently in effect is being expanded to include areas where helicopters will be working overhead. The closure includes the burn area south of Colorado Highway 14, except the area commonly referred to as “Crystal Wall” climbing area. There is also a small area on the north side around Stevens Gulch that is closed. Except for Young Gulch Trail and the Kruetzer/Mount McConnell Trail, which remain closed; the developed recreation sites along the Poudre Canyon are open or will open as scheduled. The Old Flowers, West White Pine, and Monument Gulch roads remain closed. A closure area map will be posted online.

Along with the aerial mulching, other activities will be taking place within the burn area throughout the spring and summer. Crews are already doing preliminary work on the Young Gulch Trail, with volunteer days expected later in the summer to complete much needed work on this highly-impacted trail. Noxious weed treatment will be taking place both within the High Park and Hewlett burn areas in cooperation with Larimer County. Additional road and trail work is also expected to occur.

Falling trees are a safety concern – both in burned and unburned areas. Rolling and falling rocks can also become a hazard in these areas when the soil is less stable. Remember, your safety is your responsibility. Be sure to check the weather in case of flash floods in the burn area and to check the status of Highway 14.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Heavy Snow Forces Closures in Rocky Mountain National Park

Heavy snowfall in northern Colorado today has forced the closure of roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park.

As a result of power, heat and phone outages in different areas of the park, both the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and the Fall River Visitor Center on the east side of the park closed at noon today. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side will remain open.

According to the latest SNOTEL reading at Bear Lake, roughly 18 inches of snow has fallen since last night. The latest forecast calls for another 3-7 inches this afternoon and tonight. Temperatures are falling and winds are expected to increase this afternoon to 20 miles per hour. Overnight temperatures are forecasted to be in the low teens.

According to park officials, there is limited access to portions of the east side of the park. Currently, Trail Ridge Road is closed at Deer Ridge Junction. Normally at this time of year it's open to Many Parks Curve. Bear Lake Road is closed at Park & Ride. Park snowplows continue to work on the roads, but park visitors are reminded that plows do not operate between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Hazardous driving conditions exist in the park.

For the latest weather updates and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

The Vast Unknown

The fact remains that the first American go at Everest will be an event. If we succeed, it will be a feather in our cap, a booster to our prestige, a refutation beyond argument of our detractor’s taunt that we are a nation gone soft and gutless. If we do not, we will at least have entered the arena, joined the rest of the world in one of its great enterprises, abandoned our “isolationism” in mountaineering, as we have long since in other fields.

It is still there. It always will be. And it is time we had a look for ourselves.
Today, May 1st, marks the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mt. Everest by American climbers. To help celebrate this important achievement, a new book about this incredible feat was released today.

The Vast Unknown recounts the story of a group of ragtag American climbers who made an improbable and daring attempt at climbing history. Although the world's tallest mountain had already been climbed nine times (or was it only six - there is much debate and controversy as to whether members of the 1960 Chinese expedition actually reached the summit), and numerous attempts had been made in the preceding decades, the Americans would become the first to ascend the unexplored and extremely formidable West Ridge route.

New York Times bestselling author Broughton Coburn re-tells the story of the historic climb through the backdrop of the Cold War and the space race. He also provides insight on the early days of climbing in America, where "the Tetons were the nursery for an embryonic clan of innovative and spirited American mountaineers".

It wasn't entirely about climbing the mountain, however. There was also a scientific element to the expedition. Psychologists and sociologists were brought along to conduct experiments for NASA, the Navy and the National Science Foundation. A glaciologist was also brought on board to study the Khumbu Icefall.

In subsequent years some members of the expedition would play a major role in a little-known espionage mission in the Himalayas. Coburn tells the story of the mission and the team of climbers that were selected by the CIA to plant a surveillance device on a neighboring peak, Nanda Devi, in order to spy into China where Defense Intelligence would monitor nuclear missile testing.

All in all The Vast Unknown is an excellent read, even if you're not a climber. From the assembly of the expedition team, to the logistics of moving 23 tons of gear from Seattle to India to Kathmandu, and finally onto Everest Base Camp; and from the triumph of Jim Whittaker becoming the first American to summit Everest, to the harrowing feat of conquering the West Ridge, as well the incredible story of survival - against all odds - during the descent from the peak, this book is an exciting and engaging look at a pivotal point in American climbing history.

The following is a short video that includes several clips from the 1963 expedition:




For more information on The Vast Unknown, or to purchase, please click here.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com