Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Ghost Ranch

The Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico is truly an enchanting landscape. It was once the summer home of Georgia O'Keeffe, an artist best known for her paintings of Northern New Mexico and the Ghost Ranch. One of the best ways to explore this magnificent 21,000-acre ranch, now run by the Presbyterian Church, is to take the three-mile round-trip hike to Chimney Rock.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Planning Underway

Come learn about Rocky Mountain National Park's exciting Centennial plans and how you can get involved on Wednesday, March 12, at 6:00 p.m. Anniversary Coordinator Barbara Scott will provide an update at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The year-long Centennial Celebration will kick-off on September 4, 2014, the 99th anniversary of Rocky's dedication as a national park. A Re-Dedication Ceremony will bring the celebration to an end on September 4, 2015.

Rocky Mountain National Park staff, park partners, individuals, businesses, and organizations from surrounding communities are brainstorming and planning educational programs, products, and special events to celebrate 100 years of Rocky Mountain National Park history, relationships, and connections.

Rocky Mountain National Park's 100th Anniversary Celebration will encourage people to rediscover and reconnect with the wilderness, wildlife, and wonder that have inspired and continue to inspire visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. How would you celebrate Rocky Mountain National Park's Centennial? What kinds of events or programs would you like to see put on by your local organizations? Rocky Mountain National Park encourages you to think about ways you can connect with the natural and cultural history of the park through activities that engage and appeal to a variety of audiences. Will you host a poetry contest or a centennial concert? A children's play? Maybe a hiking challenge or a bird watching seminar?

Please join the park on Wednesday, March 12th, to provide your input and ideas. For more information you can call the park at 970-586-1206.

If planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park during the centennial celebration, or anytime this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings in both Estes Park and Grand Lake. Also, don't forget to check out our other Things To Do page to help with all your trip planning.


Rocky Mountain National Park Recruits Volunteer Groups For This Summer

Rocky Mountain National Park staff is looking for organized groups and families to assist with a variety of projects at the park this summer. The work ranges from assisting park firefighters on a fuels reduction project to protect the park and surrounding neighbors, working on native plant restoration or assisting the park's trail crew on trail rehabilitation and some flood recovery efforts.

There are a range of projects for a variety of ages and abilities. Groups of volunteers can come from around Colorado or from across the country to make a difference in their national park. Depending on availability, a free campsite may be available for groups of volunteers.

For more information on how your group can get involved and make a difference this summer at Rocky, check out the park's website: or call the park's Volunteer Office at 970-586-1330.

For general information please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Monday, February 24, 2014

"As We Ran" by "The National Parks"

A band by the name of "The National Parks" has just released a new single and video (below) called "As We Ran." The single is an original song written for the first installment of the National Park Experience: A Film Series, a series of "10 short films about the amazing and diverse people forging incredible relationships with the national parks."

You may want to note that all proceeds received from downloads of "As We Ran", between January 28th and February 28th, 2014, will be donated by the band to the National Parks Conservation Association. You can download the song from iTunes by clicking here.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park

58NationalParks produced this excellent overview of Rocky Mountain National Park. If this video inspires you to visit Rocky Mountain this year, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to hike along one of the many trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this year, please note that our website offers a variety of accommodation listings in both Estes Park and Grand Lake.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Mesa Verde Offers Free Winter Plant Identification Hike

Join the San Juan/Four Corners Native Plant Society on a winter plant identification hike at Mesa Verde National Park on Saturday, March 1st, beginning at 9 a.m. The guided hike is free, but advance reservations are required. This hike is recommended for high school age to adult.

Participants will meet at the Morefield Village gas station, and then explore the hillsides around the Morefield Campground, learning how to identify plants in the winter months. Be prepared to be outdoors for 2–3 hours with extra layers of clothing, water, and snacks. There is a limit of 15 adults and children. If needed, snowshoes will be provided, or you may bring your own.

To make a reservation and for more information on the hike, please call Al Schneider with the San Juan Four Corners Native Plant Society at 970-882-4647.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cape Final

The Cape Final Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an easy 4-mile round trip hike to a limestone outcropping that provides stunning views into the eastern portions of the canyon. If you’re seeking a little bit of solitude, and an easy hike in the Grand Canyon, this is a great opportunity to get away from the crowds. For more detailed information on this hike, please click here.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Backpacking Basics

Let the Denver area REI stores help take the mystery out of backpacking with an overview of planning, preparation and gear. Participants in the 1.5-hour program will learn how to choose a pack, and select proper clothing and footwear. REI will also give you important notes on trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principles. In all, REI will help you understand what you need to reach your destination.

The 1.5-hour program will take place from 6:30 - 8:00 PM next month at several Denver-area REIs. You can choose from these dates and locations:

March 4th: Boulder, Lakewood and Englewood

March 6th: Westminster

For more information, please click here.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

National Park's as Prescriptions

The National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program is currently working with doctors, healthcare providers, and NPS managers as part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People program. Doctors are prescribing park or nature prescriptions to patients so they can improve their health, connect with the outdoors, and become park stewards. Here's an interesting video from the NPS on this new program:

So what are you doing sitting around watching this video for anyway?! Time to get out and hike!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Osprey Satellite Transmitter Tracking Project Underway

Rocky Mountain National Park announced yesterday the beginning of a three year joint project between the park, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO), and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests that allows school children and the public to follow the migration path of osprey from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds.

To effectively conserve neotropical bird populations, it is important to coordinate conservation efforts between breeding habitats in North America with tropical regions in Mexico, Central and South America. Understanding the full life cycle of migratory birds helps identify conservation needs. Recent advances in technology make demonstrating migratory connectivity between countries and continents possible. The National Park Service and the RMBO are working together to better understand the migration route of local ospreys. This summer two female ospreys (named Shadow and Rainbow) that nest in the Arapaho National Recreation Area near Rocky Mountain National Park were outfitted with satellite tracking units.

The solar-powered units that the birds wear like a "backpack" utilize satellites to provide biologists with the locations of the birds three times a day for the next two to three years. This information will help biologists learn about the birds' migration routes, stopover sites and winter ranges to further our coordination with other landowners in the conservation of this species.

Educators from RMBO, the forest service and the park service are working with local schools to incorporate the osprey's migration into classroom programs. Students will learn about the technology used to track birds and create maps and how information on migration is important for bird conservation.

RMBO is utilizing the internet and readily accessible programs to allow anyone to track the birds' migration. Shadow and Rainbow have traveled over 1,300 miles from the shore of Lake Granby in north-central Colorado to the East Coast of Mexico. To learn more about RMBO's program and track Shadow and Rainbow, please click here.

The National Park Service Rocky Mountain Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, and Mountain Parks Electric are also partners in this project.


The Cerro Grande Route

Many people who visit Bandelier National Monument don’t take the time to familiarize themselves with the areas outside the main portions of the park. This is a mistake. Much of the monument is located in a desert environment; however, just a few miles to the north is an area that most people wouldn’t recognize as being part of Bandelier. The star attraction in this part of the park is Cerro Grande Peak, with its outstanding views of the Valles Caldera. The Cerro Grande Route explores the subalpine and montane forests of the Jemez Mountains, and ends at the top of Cerro Grande Peak, the highest point in Bandelier. For more information on this not-to-miss hike, please click here.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Planning Moves Forward In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park announced today the availability of the Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Record of Decision. This project will restore the natural hydrological processes, ecological services, and wilderness character of the area in the Upper Kawuneeche Valley impacted by the 2003 Grand Ditch breach.

On May 30, 2003, the Grand Ditch, a trans-basin, water-diversion canal in the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park breached its bank. The breach saturated an adjacent hillslope which gave way, sending a massive mud- and rock-slide down into Lulu Creek and the headwaters of the Colorado River. Approximately 22 acres and 1.5 miles of stream, riparian, upland, and wetland habitat were injured.

Implicit in this project is that the ecosystems restored are naturally dynamic and self-sustaining. The area impacted in the Upper Kawuneeche Valley contains more sediment, debris, and subsequent injuries from the breach than it would under natural conditions. This resulted in highly unnatural conditions within the project area as a large amount of excess sediment has been deposited into the system and remains in an unstable, erodible state. The estimated 47,600 cubic-yard debris flow from the breach changed the river channel, deposited a large debris fan, increased sedimentation along the Colorado River, altered aesthetics of a wilderness area, and killed and scarred trees. These impacts degraded the aquatic, riparian, and upland ecosystems, in addition to the wetland communities that support a unique array of species in comparison to other habitat types in the park.

The Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Final EIS Record of Decision selects the preferred alternative to guide restoration of the area within Rocky Mountain National Park that was impacted by the breach. This alternative will emphasize the removal of large debris deposits in the alluvial fan area and in the Lulu City wetland. Actions will be conducted to stabilize limited areas of unstable slopes and banks throughout the upper portions of the restoration area. Hydrology through the Lulu City wetland will be restored in the historical central channel through removal of large deposits of debris, relying on the historical channel to transport river flow. Small-scale motorized equipment will be used for stabilization and re-vegetation activities, while larger equipment will be used for excavation of large debris deposits and reconfiguration of the Colorado River through the Lulu City wetland.

The EIS evaluated potential environmental consequences of the proposed actions for each alternative. There will be short-term, adverse impacts on natural soundscape, wilderness, water resources, wetlands, visitor use and experience, and wildlife from restoration activities and the use of mechanized equipment. There will be long-term major benefits under the NPS preferred alternative as a result of a high level of restoration.

The Final EIS Record of Decision has been approved by the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director. No implementation will begin until a notice of availability for the Record of Decision has been published in the Federal Register.

A copy of the Final EIS Record of Decision is available online. Printed copies may be obtained by calling the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park Visitation Down 7.4% in 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park finally reported their overall visitation numbers for 2013. For the year, the park reported 2,991,140 recreational visits, a decline of 7.4% from the prior year.

No doubt park visitation was impacted by the Big Meadows Fire in June, as well as the government shutdown in October. However, it was the flooding rains of September which forced the park to close in full or in part for more than two weeks, that likely had the greatest impact on park visitation this past year.

Here's a graphical look at visitation counts since Rocky Mountain became a national park:


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Glacier National Park

58NationalParks produced this excellent overview of Glacier National Park. If this video inspires you to visit Glacier this year, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to hike along one of the many trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Listening Sessions Summary Report for Colorado National Monument Available - Additional Meetings Planned for March

Colorado National Monument released a report yesterday that summarizes information gathered at public workshops conducted last summer regarding use of the national park site. CDR Associates, a respected Colorado mediation group, facilitated the sessions in Fruita, Grand Junction and Glade Park in July and August 2013. CDR produced the report for the National Park Service (NPS).

The workshops were designed to encourage community dialogue about what commercial and visitor activities are most desired and appropriate in the monument and what laws and regulations exist to guide those uses. These discussions were part of an overarching planning process. Approximately 120 people attended the three workshops. Some of the recommendations received from the public have already been implemented, such as streamlining the special use permit process and scheduling more public workshop meetings.

Additional meeting dates are planned for March. Please join the NPS for one or more of these meetings scheduled between 6 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday March 11 at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, 159 Main Street; on Wednesday March 12 at the Fruita Community Center, 324 N. Coulson Street; and on Thursday March 13 at the Glade Park Community Building at 101 16.5 Road, (in the vicinity of the Glade Park Store).

You can access the CDR Associates summary on the park's Community Engagement web page. A Frequently Asked Questions document about the workshops is also available on the park website.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Boulder Ranger District Acquires 823 Acres in Gilpin County

The Boulder Ranger District announced earlier this week the purchase of 823 acres near the East Portal and the Rollins Pass Road in Gilpin County. The land was purchased from the Toll family in a transaction negotiated by The Conservation Fund on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service. The purchase was made possible through the use of Land and Water Conservation Funds, America’s premier conservation program.

The purchase of these 823 acres makes possible the conservation of open space and reduces fragmentation of National Forest System lands. It safeguards the James Peak Wilderness by consolidating federal land ownership within 0.25 mile of the wilderness boundary, preventing future adjacent development. It also improves protection of 0.5 mile of South Boulder Creek, offering security to the water conveyance that delivers municipal water to residents of the City of Denver.

“The inclusion of these lands within the National Forest presents us with opportunities to restore and protect natural resource values such as habitat for plant, animal, and aquatic species. Additionally, we will be able to improve management of the recreational opportunities along Rollins Pass Road and adjacent to the James Peak Wilderness,” said Sylvia Clark, Boulder District Ranger.

“This purchase enhances access to the National Forest and wilderness in an area that is enjoyed by thousands of summer and winter recreationists from Boulder, Denver, and from out of state,” said Christine Quinlan, Western Field Representative for The Conservation Fund. “We’re extremely grateful to members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation for their support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to the Toll family for their good stewardship of this land for four generations.”

The property includes riparian and fish habitat as well as habitat for threatened Canada lynx and the Northern American wolverine, a candidate species for federal listing. Other species that stand to benefit include American marten, pygmy shrew, a variety of birds and several rare plant species.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Last Wilderness

As far back as I can remember I’ve had this fantasy about chucking civilization, building myself a cabin, and living off the land in some far-off wilderness - just like Dick Proenneke, or even Skip Robinson from The Adventures of the Wilderness Family. Well, I never actually had the courage to make such a drastic move, but fortunately for us dreamers, we can still read about the people who do have that pioneering spirit.

One such person, Michael McBride, recently published an autobiography about his life in the Alaskan bush, and how he grew his humble cabin into a world class lodge.

In The Last Wilderness, McBride tells the story of how he and his newlywed spent their entire life savings on supplies, rented a shuttle boat, and crossed over Kachemak Bay in 1969 to carve out a new life on China Poot Bay, roughly 10 miles from Homer, Alaska. The young couple literally had nothing to fall back on if they failed. Moreover, they made their move in November, just as the cold Alaskan winter was beginning to take hold. The only thing that would protect them from the elements was the old abandoned trapper’s cabin on their new property.

At first the McBride’s weren’t even sure how they were going to make a living. And, like the early settlers, they didn’t have electricity or running water for the first couple of years. They didn’t even have a boat to return to civilization in the event of an emergency.

Over time that old trapper’s cabin and the surrounding property would grow to become the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, and in the process, the McBride’s would become one of the early pioneers of ecotourism – long before it was even a word. Soon the lodge was attracting guests from all over the world. Feature articles about it would appear in National Geographic, the New York Times, Men’s Journal and Outdoor Life. European royalty would also seek refuge at this beautiful outpost.

In addition to being a master guide, licensed skipper, bush pilot, marine biology expert and a Nationally Certified Yoga Teacher, Michael is also an outstanding writer. He’s very eloquent in his descriptions and observations, with almost a John Muir quality in his style. However, I thought there were times where he lapsed into ethereal rhetoric, where it was hard to tell what he was referring to. There were times where he didn’t provide enough background or context to a story, or it was difficult to ascertain the chronological order of events. However, I should say that I still found the McBride’s story of carving out a life in the harsh wilderness and building a successful business against all odds to be a great read.

It’s likely most of you have no realistic illusions of ever moving into the wilderness, but this book may inspire you to spend a few days or weeks in an isolated outpost of civilization someday, such as the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge.

For more information on this book, please click here.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mariposa Grove

Ever since the first Euro-American laid eyes on them in 1849, people from all over the world have been in awe of the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove. To Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect, the trees seemed like “distinguished strangers,” which had “come down to us from another world”. After visiting the grove in 1871, Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “The greatest wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.”

Without the help of people like Olmsted, Emerson, Galen Clark and John Muir, these ancient treasures may never have been preserved for the generations that came after them. If you ever get the chance to visit Yosemite National Park, a trip to over to Mariposa Grove is an absolute must!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Forest Service Closes Areas in Boulder Canyon to Protect Golden Eagles

The Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests implemented its annual area closures at Security Risk, Eagle Rock, Blob Rock, and Bitty Buttress in Boulder Canyon on February 1st to protect golden eagles during their nesting season.

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

Signs will be posted at key access points into the closed areas. Closure information will be available online at local climbing websites and the national forest website (click on Boulder Canyon for more info). Closures are effective from February 1 through July 31. Volunteers and Forest Service personnel will monitor the areas, and some areas may be reopened prior to July 31. It is against Federal and State law to disturb any nesting bird of prey.

The closures help protect a long-established golden eagle nesting territory, including vital alternate nest sites. Undisturbed access to multiple nest sites is important for birds of prey, especially early in the nesting season, to give them a chance to visit multiple nests during courtship and to select a site for the season, free of human influence. “Closures in Boulder Canyon are vitally important to protect one of only a handful of known golden eagle nesting territories in Boulder County. Their specific habitat needs limit what areas they can use for mating and fledging their young,” said Sylvia Clark, Boulder District Ranger. Contact Boulder Ranger District at 303-541-2500 for more information.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Public Input Sought for Colorado's Outdoor Recreation Plan

The 2014 Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), the blueprint for sustaining Colorado's outdoors heritage for current and future generations, is being released for public comment.

Outdoor recreation defines the quality of life in Colorado and is a significant factor in the state's economy. Studies conducted as part of the 2014 SCORP estimate that outdoor recreation in Colorado contributes more than $34.5 billion in economic activity, creates 313,000 jobs and generates $4.9 million in local, state and federal taxes annually. There are nearly 30 million acres of publicly owned land in Colorado, with a majority of these lands open to outdoor recreation pursuits. Surveys conducted as part of the SCORP indicate that 90 percent of Coloradans participated in some form of outdoor recreation in Colorado over the past year.

To proactively manage critical outdoor recreation resources for future generations, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working with a 44-member steering committee to develop the 2014-2018 Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. This committee includes representation from local, state and federal agencies, non-profit groups, outdoor industry associations, the health care industry and similar interests.

"Building on the nationally-acclaimed 2008 SCORP, the 2014 SCORP aims to guide outdoor recreation providers, decision-makers, and stakeholders in recreation management and policy decisions over the next five years," said Brian Kurzel, Policy and Planning Supervisor for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The 2014 SCORP identifies five statewide outdoor recreation priority areas where attention and energy should be focused: Outdoor Education, Funding and Financial Sustainability, Healthy Lifestyles and Communities, Integration of Outdoor Recreation Interests, and Stewardship. Recommended actions are identified for each priority area to provide guidance for outdoor recreation stakeholders.

The full 2014 SCORP can be found online at The public is encouraged to review and provide feedback on the SCORP by Feb. 14 via email at or phone at 303-869-1350.

The Colorado SCORP will also help determine priorities for allocating the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants administered by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife trails program. Since 1965, over 60,000 acres in Colorado have been secured for outdoor recreation and conservation purposes through an estimated $60.5 million in LWCF grants. The SCORP is the five-year planning document that each state is required to develop to remain eligible for LWCF appropriations.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park Winter Festival Cancelled

Due to the extreme lack of snow this winter, Mesa Verde National Park is canceling its Winter Festival. With little to no snow in the forecast and almost no snow on the ground in Morefield Canyon, all activities on February 8th and 15th have been canceled.

Should snow conditions in the park improve, rangers plan to groom the trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The park thanks everyone for their support and interest, and hopes for a better season next winter.