Friday, November 28, 2014

Video of the Day: the Alaska Basin Trail

If you ever get the chance you should jump at the opportunity to hike the Alaska Basin Trail. The trail takes hikers up to the Alaska Basin in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, located just west of Grand Teton National Park. Below is a video, published by Kenneth Vanderstoep a few years ago, that highlights the breathtaking views, wildflowers and meadows you'll see on this epic hike. The song playing during the video is "Consider the Lilies" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

For more information on this hike, please click here to visit our new hiking website for the Grand Tetons. Enjoy:


Monday, November 24, 2014

DNA Test Confirms Gray Wolf in Grand Canyon National Park

DNA tests released last Friday confirm that a wolf repeatedly photographed at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a female gray wolf originating from the northern Rocky Mountains. The wolf is currently protected as a member of an endangered species, but would be stripped of her protective status along with other vulnerable wolves under an Obama administration proposal anticipated to be finalized this year, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This wolf’s epic journey through at least three western states fits with what scientific studies have shown, namely that wolves could once again roam widely and that the Grand Canyon is one of the best places left for them,” said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s heartening this animal has been confirmed as a wolf but I am very worried that if wolves are taken off the endangered species list she will be killed and wolf howls from the North Rim’s pine forest will never again echo in the Grand Canyon.”

The wolf, wearing an inoperative radio collar, has repeatedly been observed in Grand Canyon National Park and the adjoining Kaibab National Forest since early October. Tests were conducted on feces to help determine the animal’s origins. The minimum straight-line distance from her home to present location is about 450 miles. It is likely the wolf wandered even farther, however, by taking a more meandering route.

Earlier this month, the Center released a first-of-its-kind analysis identifying 359,000 square miles of additional wolf habitat in the lower 48 states that could significantly boost wolf recovery. The study found that the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon.

“There’s so much more room for wolves in the West if only we extend them a bit more tolerance,” Robinson said. “The Grand Canyon wolf is a prime example of what wolves can do if only we let them.”

Young adult wolves often leave their family packs to seek a mate and a territory of their own and may wander dozens and sometimes hundreds of miles. But with few other lone wolves to be found and many hazards, many such migrations end with the wolf’s death. One notable exception is OR-7 of Oregon, a male wolf nicknamed “Journey” by school-children, who wandered for two years in Oregon and California before finding a mate this year and raising pups in southwestern Oregon.

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing gray wolves from the endangered species list, except for the Mexican gray wolf subspecies that is clinging to survival in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Independent peer-reviewers criticized that proposal’s scientific underpinnings, but the Service may finalize the proposal nonetheless. Where wolves have already been taken off the endangered species list in the northern Rockies and upper Midwest, state-authorized hunting, trapping and snaring, along with federal aerial gunning, are driving wolf numbers downward.


Help Build the Next 32 Miles of the CDT in Colorado

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC), the lead National Partner for management of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) has launched a new Fundraising campaign through Indiegogo titled “The Next 32 Miles” to raise funds to construct a 32 mile non-motorized section of the CDT on the Rio Grande National Forest near Saguache, CO.

This project would allow the CDTC and partners, including local Youth Corps programs and volunteers, to complete one of the last remaining sections of the CDT in Colorado. When complete, this 32 mile trail section, which co-aligns with the Colorado Trail, will be a highly desirable, primitive back-country hiking and horseback riding experience.

The Continental Divide Trail is one of the few remaining ’wild’ places in our country, and was designated as one of America’s national scenic trails by Congress in 1978. However the Trail remains incomplete in many areas today. Colorado boasts over 800 miles of the CDT; New Mexico and Montana each host 750 miles; Wyoming, 610 miles, and Idaho 180 miles. Considered one of the greatest long-distance trails in the world, along with the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, they make up “Triple Crown” of National Scenic Trails.

“The Next 32 Miles” launched on November 18, and raised over $10,000 in the first 48 hours of the effort. The goal is to raise $20,000 during the campaign, which will help the CDTC secure funds to obtain the entire project cost of $200,000, which is needed to build the 32-mile section within two years. The Campaign will run through January 2, 2015. More information can be found here.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Body Of Missing Man On Longs Peak Recovered

Rocky Mountain National Park officials announced that the body of Peter Jeffris was located 200 feet below the Ledges on the Keyhole Route during helicopter search efforts yesterday. A Search and Rescue Team was flown to a landing spot in the Glacier Gorge drainage. The four team members then climbed approximately 1,800 vertical feet to where Jeffris was found. They prepared his body for transport. His body was flown from the scene to a landing spot at Upper Beaver Meadows at approximately 4:00 p.m. and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It was unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. Safety was a top priority in determining when and where rescue personnel could search for Jeffris.

Winter conditions including extreme winds and below freezing temperatures made search and recovery operations even more difficult. These challenging conditions hampered search operations, particularly above tree line, the past three days. With today's calmer winds, searchers were able to utilize a helicopter which enhanced our ability to cover a much larger area and ultimately locate Jeffris.

Over the multiple day search, Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Teams were assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Search Dogs of Colorado and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. Park staff also worked with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Favorable Weather Allows Aerial Search Efforts For Missing Man

Search efforts continue today on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park for Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado. Weather and winds are favorable and aerial searching by helicopter began this morning. This will enable searchers to cover a larger area and search higher elevations that have not been searched due to extreme winter conditions and safety of searchers the past four days. The forecast calls for the potential of snow and winds beginning tomorrow afternoon. This entire search area encompasses nearly 20 square miles and includes alpine, sub-alpine and heavily forested areas. Ground teams continue to focus on a variety of sections in the overall search area.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

Search efforts the last two days have not revealed any significant signs or clues. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team is being assisted today by Douglas County Search and Rescue, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. For the last two days, park staff have also been working with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center related to cell phone tracking. However, no significant information has been obtained that would influence the search. There are thirty-four people involved in the overall search efforts again today.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Search Efforts Continue Today For Missing Man On Longs Peak

Search efforts continued today on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park for Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado. Efforts will largely focus below tree line due to hazardous conditions including extreme winds above 11,500 feet. Teams will focus on drainages leading to the north and east from Longs Peak. Teams will also use spotting scopes from a distance to search areas including the Ledges and Trough along the Keyhole Route, Kiener's Route and Lambs Slide. A dog team will be used to search from Jeffris' vehicle, his last known point. Arial operations are not possible again today due to high winds and gusts.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

Search efforts the last two days have not revealed any significant signs or clues. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team is being assisted today by Alpine Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol, Search Dogs of Colorado and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. For the last two days, park staff have also been working with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center related to cell phone tracking. However, no significant information has been obtained that would influence the search. There are thirty-two people involved in the overall search efforts again today.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Search Underway On Longs Peak

Yesterday afternoon, park rangers were notified that Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado, was overdue from a mountaineering trek to Rocky Mountain National Park and was believed to be in the Longs Peak area. His car was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak and did not arrive at work on Monday. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

A Park Search and Rescue team searched a small segment of the area until dark last night. Today teams will search the north face, Keyhole Route, Chasm Cirque area and along the Longs Peak Trail. They are being assisted by Rocky Mountain Rescue and Larimer County Search and Rescue. There are thirty-two people involved in the search efforts.

Weather on Sunday and Monday included snow, high winds and bitter temperatures. Today, teams are facing extremely high winds, blowing snow and gusts up to 85 mph at 14,000 feet. Aerial search efforts are not possible due to extreme winds.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.


Fun Programs Highlight Rocky’s Centennial Through The Holidays

The year-long celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park's (RMNP) 100th Anniversary continues through the holiday season! The following are a few events visitors can look forward to during the season:

Tuesday, November 18: The Big Burn: An Evening with Timothy Egan – Part of the One Book, One Valley program at the Estes Valley Library, this event will share insight about the events that started the conservation movement. Free tickets required.

Saturday, November 22: Estes Park Holiday Festivities and Tree Lighting – Guests can enjoy stocking/ornament decorating, sweet treats and hot drinks, radio flyer wagon rides, a trackless train, community sing-alongs, and an early visit from Santa. This year's tree lighting is in honor of Rocky Mountain National Park. A surprise lighting element will recognize RMNP staff.

Friday, November 28: The Wonder of Christmas – Join Grand Lake for a RMNP Centennial Tree Lighting Ceremony. Bruce the Moose, the Mayor, and one of the town's favorite singers, Juliette, will be there. RMNP rangers and volunteers will be serving up hot cocoa with all the fixings and there will be plenty of treats to go around as Christmas carols are sung. Bring an ornament to add to the tree!

Friday, November 28: Estes Park Catch the Glow Parade – Catch the glow from a beautifully lit parade and enjoy hay rides, s'mores, live carolers, and visits from Santa.

Friday, December 6 through Saturday, January 3: The Wonder of Art from the Park Exhibit – Local artists showcase their paintings and photography that highlight the Wilderness, Wildlife, and Wonder of RMNP at the Granby Library. Opening exhibition is 2 to 4 pm on December 6.

Saturday December 20 and Sunday 21: Home for the Holidays: The Wonder of Christmas in the Rockies – The Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater in Grand Lake presents a festive and heartwarming holiday tribute to celebrate the wonder of the Rocky Mountains. $15/tickets

Wednesday, December 31: Grand Lake New Year's Eve Fireworks – Celebrate RMNP's Centennial Celebration and ring in the new year with this fantastic fireworks display!

For more details on these events, including times and locations, please visit Rocky's 2014 Centennial Calendar of Events on the park's website.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rocky's Visitation Surpasses Three Million

October visitation numbers are in at Rocky Mountain National Park. As expected, the park received high visitation due to beautiful fall weather and Trail Ridge Road remaining open until October 26 with only a few temporary closures. Visitation was 305,651 for the month which is a significant increase from the past five Octobers. Of course, it's a 361% increase from last October when flood damaged roads, chilly weather and the government shutdown greatly impacted visitation. Park visitation year-to-date is 3,263,804, the highest the park has ever received.

Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Park staff corrected public use statistics procedures for recreation and non-recreation visits beginning in 2012. Starting in 2012, traffic began being counted at Lumpy Ridge and Lily Lake on the park's east side; regression formulas rather than counters are used for the park's west side minor entrances; Hiker Shuttle riders and visitors who enter the park on horseback are counted as recreational visits; and Sun Valley Road, a county road across from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, is no longer counted because this road is not administered by the park. Even with these changes, however, visitation stats are still reliably good estimates.

Many other national parks in the Rocky Mountain West have also seen increases in visitation this year. Rocky began its Centennial Celebration in September, which will continue through September of 2015. Other parks celebrating their Centennial Anniversaries experienced increases in visitation.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Many Sides of Longs Peak

It dominates the horizon in northern Colorado. It's been photographed by Ansel Adams, has been featured on the Colorado state quarter, and is the most-climbed fourteener in Colorado. At 14,259 feet Longs Peak is also the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park, and is the only mountain in the park to exceed 14,000 feet.

The peak is named after Major Stephen H. Long who led an expedition across the Great Plains and along the base of the Rockies in 1820. While out on the plains the expedition could see the highest mountain in the northern range in the distant view.

John Wesley Powell, along with several others, would make the first ascent of Longs Peak in 1868. Powell, the one-arm Civil War General, would also become the first person to float the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Longs Peak stands prominently in Rocky Mountain National Park, and can be seen from numerous locations around the park. Below is a series of photographs of the mountain from a few of those locations.

One of the best ways to see the mountain is to take the hike up to Chasm Lake or the Keyhole. Here's what you'll see after emerging from tree line:

An early morning hike along the Bear Lake Loop provides an outstanding view of the mountain reflecting in the water:

On the east side of the park there are three mountains that offer hikers the opportunity to see Longs Peak from a birds eye view. All three are relatively easy hikes. The first photo is from Lily Mountain:

This photo was taken from Estes Cone:

The last in this series is from Twin Sisters Peak. In my opinion, this mountain provides one of the best views of Longs Peak in the park. Unfortunately the image below doesn't really capture the scene in all its glory. This photo was taken with a 35mm camera, and then scanned:

Just west of Estes Park is Deer Mountain. From the summit you'll have a tremendous view of the north side of Longs Peak:

Nearby Lumpy Ridge Loop also provides an outstanding view of the regal mountain:

Lily Lake, on the eastern edge of the park - just south of Estes Park, is a very easy hike, perfect for the entire family. This pleasant hike also offers outstanding views of Longs Peak from its northern shore:

For the most part the trails in the Wild Basin area offer little in the way good views of Longs Peak. Mt. Meeker stands in the way in many places. Along the trail to Pear Lake, however, you'll reach a perch that offers a decent view of the mountain, peeking just over the left shoulder of Mt. Meeker:

Trail Ridge Road also offers numerous opportunities for viewing the tallest mountain in the park. This includes points along several trails, such as the Ute Trail: well as the Tundra Communities Trail:

Finally, we'll share one last photo of Longs Peak. This was taken from Mt. Ida, roughly 12 miles away from Longs Peak - as the crow flies. Although the top of the peak was clipped by clouds in this photo, the views from Mt. Ida are quite stunning:


Monday, November 10, 2014

USFS is Recruiting Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers for 2015 Snow Season

Are you the adventurous type who loves to be outdoors in the snow? Then have we got a volunteer opportunity for you! The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is seeking volunteers to ski or snowshoe this winter in the busy Cameron Pass area, where 32 miles of trail can see over 300 skiers a day on a weekend.

Volunteers ski or snowshoe “with a purpose,” helping the Forest Service educate winter visitors and provide winter use statistics. Last year, 88 volunteers provided more than 3,000 hours of service and contacted more than 1,100 winter visitors – an incredible accomplishment for this organization.

Nordic rangers volunteer for many reasons, but one returning member summarized his reasons this way, “The best part of being a Nordic Ranger is the bringing together of like-minded people, who in turn reach out to all National Forest users. By promoting our passion to others who visit and use our wild lands, we encourage them to want to emulate our philosophy, so that our wild lands will be here forever and for all.”

To volunteer, participants take part in a minimum of four days patrolling and attend Forest Service-provided training. The kick-off meeting is Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, in Fort Collins. The required classroom training is Dec. 3, 6-9 p.m. and the required field training is Dec. 6 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, call Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or email

Along with a general introduction to the program, the kick-off also introduces potential new members to many of our partner-organizations, such as Jax Outdoor Gear and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and to some of the returning Nordic rangers.

The popular Cameron Pass area includes trails bordering Highway 14 between Chambers Lake and Cameron Pass. The area receives adequate snow before many others and snow often remains after other areas have melted. For this reason, the number of winter recreationists at Cameron Pass continues to grow.

Many of the trails are in the Rawah and Neota Wilderness areas, where routes can be challenging. Backcountry skiing also includes risks inherent with winter conditions in the mountains, including extreme cold. These are some of the key reasons volunteers in the area are so valuable to its many users, especially those with little winter sports experience.

The Cameron Pass Nordic Ranger program began in 1992. Volunteers assist the Forest Service by skiing or snowshoeing area trails to provide safety, trail, and low-impact backcountry use information to winter enthusiasts; help maintain area ski trails and trailheads for safety; and gather visitor use information to aid in Forest Service planning. Some of the Nordic rangers work as a winter trail crew to help keep the trails cleared of downed trees and limbs, install signs, and shovel paths to the restrooms.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nine Rivers: A Canadian Adventure

Nine rivers, four men and two canoes. This excellent film follows four adventurers on a month-long, one-thousand kilometre (621 miles) canoe journey through the Canadian shield. The group shares the hardships and splendor of the North on this journey to Hudson Bay.

This film is fairly long compared to most I post on this blog, but it's very well done, and takes you through an area of North America that most people will never see. Although this was a major expedition, it's something a common person could accomplish (as opposed to having to be a super-fit athlete). Actually, I would love to do something like this some day...

Hope you enjoy:

Nine Rivers from Matt Perpick on Vimeo.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Man Arrested For Murder In Rocky Mountain National Park

Today's NPS Morning Report reports that Harold Henthorn, 58, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was arrested without incident Wednesday morning by National Park Service and FBI special agents following his indictment for first degree murder in the death of his wife.

The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on November 5th. According to the indictment, Henthorn “willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation and malice aforethought” killed his wife in Rocky Mountain National Park on or about September 29, 2012.

If convicted, Henthorn faces a mandatory life term in federal prison without the possibility of parole, as well as a fine of up to a $250,000.

This case was investigated by the National Park Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance during the investigation and arrest.


Have craft brewers jumped the shark?

I have a question for beer lovers and common sewers, I mean connoisseurs: Has the whole craft beer industry jumped the shark?

In recent years there's been a growing trend towards extreme levels of hops and flavors not normally associated with beer. Some of the flavors I've seen or heard about - that have gone way out on the limb - include chile peppers, avocados, coconut curry, oysters, pine needles and even smoked ham and bacon! Hey, I'm all for experimentation, but I think we've reached the point where brewmasters have become self-indulgent to a certain extent. To use a pop music analogy, it feels like the craft brewing industry is nearing the end of the disco era, or the "hair metal" band era of the late 80s.

To continue with the music analogy, I think we're approaching the point where we're going to have to take all those albums (funky beer recipes) up to Comiskey Park and burn them after a White Sox game to make my (our?) point. It's time to get back to the roots of great beers.

While sipping on a German pilsner last weekend I came to the realization that the Germans, English, Irish and the Belgian Monks perfected the art of beer making several centuries ago. The reason these traditional beer makers have survived all these years is because they have focused on flavor. Sadly, many American craft brewers seem to have abandoned this fundamental reason for drinking beer. I'm certainly not bashing all American craft brewers. There are many who are making some absolutely great beers, such as Anderson Valley's Boont Amber Ale and Brother David’s Double Abbey Style Ale, or Big Sky's Moose Drool, or Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte Porter, or Highland Brewing Company's Gaelic Ale, or Mt. Carmel Brewing Company's Amber Ale - to name just a few. Unfortunately, very few places sell these brews on tap, opting instead to sell the outrageous flavors of the month.

All I'm saying, is give taste a chance! Am I the only one going "against the grain"?


Thursday, November 6, 2014 Adds 8 New Hikes to Website continues to expand! Kathy and I spent a week on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park a few weeks ago, and as a result, have added 8 new hikes to our website. Hopefully you'll find that this expansion will make your hike and trip planning a little easier. During our trip we made our first trek ever out to Mt. Ida. The only question is why did we wait so long? Perhaps because it doesn't appear on the official park map... If you never had the opportunity to visit the 12,889-foot, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, here's a rundown on what's been added to our site:

Coyote Valley Trail: This hike offers hikers of all abilities the opportunity to explore the beautiful Kawuneeche Valley, as well as the chance for spotting a variety of wildlife.

Forest Canyon Pass: Fairly easy hike along the old Ute Trail that offers great views of Forest Canyon.

Granite Falls: Nice waterfall on the west side of the park. Trail also visits Big Meadows, as well as one of the burn zones from the 2013 Big Meadows Wildfire. This zone is already in the process of regeneration, as evidenced by the thousands of wildflowers already growing among the dead trees.

Green Mountain-Onahu Creek Loop: Looking for solitude? This a great loop to get away from it all. This hike also visits Big Meadows, passes an old homesteaders cabin, and then travels along the fairly remote Onahu Creek area.

Lake Irene: Very easy hike to a beautiful lake near the Continental Divide.

Mt. Ida: This is now my new favorite hike in the park. The views from the summit, and along most of the trail, are simply epic! The photo above was taken from Peak 12,150, a "small bump" on the Continental Divide between Milner Pass and Mt. Ida.

Peak 12,150: No doubt the hike to Mt. Ida is not for everyone - due to the rugged terrain you'll have to cross along the summit. However, you can still have outstanding views, and a much easier route, by ending your hike at Peak 12,150.

Poudre River Trail: Travel along the upper portions of the Cache La Poudre River, which was designated as a Wild and Scenic River by Congress in 1986.

These hikes are in addition to the 13 hikes that were added back in July. Those hikes included: Alpine Ridge Trail, Bierstadt Lake, Cascade Falls, Deer Mountain, Estes Cone (via Lily Lake), Estes Cone (via Longs Peak), Eugenia Mine, Finch Lake, Gem Lake, Lily Mountain, Lumpy Ridge Loop, Pear Lake and Thunder Lake.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on any the new hikes. Feedback - good or constructive - is always welcome!


Rocky Mountain Seeks Public Input On Reroutes And Repairs To Flood Damaged Trails

Rocky Mountain National Park is considering reroutes and repairs to several trails that were heavily damaged or lost during the September 2013 flood. Flooding not only washed away the travel surface in some locations, but also structures such as culverts, water bars, and bridges. Saturated soils on hillsides failed, causing landslides that destroyed entire trail segments. Trails that received the most substantial damage require extensive repairs or rerouting.

The purpose of this proposed project is to identify potential travel routes while protecting natural and cultural resources and preserving wilderness character. Damaged trails proposed for reroutes or repairs include: Alluvial Fan, Ypsilon Lake, Lawn Lake, Twin Sisters, and Aspen Brook. All of these trails currently remain open to the public, but portions of the trails and bridges have been washed out by flooding and landslides or are badly damaged. Social trails have developed in some locations around the damaged or missing trail segments, which can lead to soil erosion and vegetation damage over time.

The park is considering several options for each trail, including constructing short detours around damaged or missing trail segments or constructing longer more sustainable trails that require less maintenance over the long-term. Also under consideration is allowing continued use of social trails, and implementing minor improvements within the limits of the existing trail maintenance program. Restoration of existing trails is not always feasible at locations where the trail has been completely washed away or where unstable material within a landslide path is present. Complete trail closure is also an option that may be considered for some trails. Trail segments abandoned due to reroutes or closure would be restored to natural conditions through active replanting or natural re-vegetation.

An environmental assessment will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide a decision-making framework that analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, evaluates issues and impacts on park resources and values, and identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.

Park staff encourage public participation throughout the planning process. There will be two opportunities to comment formally on the project – one starting now during initial project scoping and again following release of the environmental assessment. The park will be hosting a meeting about the proposed project. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Estes Valley Library – Hondius Room located at 335 East Elkhorn Avenue in Estes Park. This will be an opportunity to express ideas, concerns, and recommendations about alternative actions and have questions answered. There will be a short presentation at 5:30 p.m., and park staff will be available to answer questions until 7:00 p.m.; however, the public is invited to visit at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide written comments.

Comments received during the scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the environmental assessment, while also assisting with analyzing the different alternatives. Comments must be received in writing by close of business on December 8, 2014.

Comments can be submitted at the public open house described above or online: look for "Reroutes and Repairs to Flood Damaged Trails."

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Superintendent Rocky Mountain National Park Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

If you have questions about the project, or would like more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trail Ridge Road Closes To Through Travel For The Season

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park officially closed for the season to through travel yesterday. The most popular destinations for this time of year including Bear Lake Road, Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park and the section of Trail Ridge Road along the Kawuneeche Valley are all open. Plus the Endovalley Road has recently reopened after last year's flood damage. These are all great areas for hiking and wildlife watching.

Trail Ridge Road, one of the most impressive alpine highways in the United States, is the highest continuous paved road in America and reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet. The road connects the park's communities of Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west. Trail Ridge Road is not designed to be an all season road with 11 miles above 11,500 feet and few guard rails and no shoulder. There are winter conditions of drifting snow, high winds and below freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet. The road is currently closed at Colorado River Trailhead on the west side and Many Parks Curve on the east side.

According to park superintendent Vaughn Baker, "At high elevations we continue to receive high winds and freezing temperatures. The snow continues to blow and drift on Trail Ridge Road, making snow clearing operations and driving conditions extremely hazardous. During the winter season, weather permitting, we will keep Trail Ridge Road open to Many Parks Curve on the east side of the park and to the Colorado River Trailhead on the west side of the park."

The average winter closure dates for Trail Ridge Road have been October 23. Although often times the road closes earlier and does not reopen, the previous ten year's official closure dates are: October 22, 2013, October 17, 2012, October 27, 2011, October 29, 2010, October 21, 2009, November 6, 2008, October 22, 2007, October 23, 2006, November 4, 2005 and October 25, 2004. The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 23.

Trail Ridge Road is now in "winter trail status" which means that bicycles and pets are not permitted beyond the closed gates. For current road conditions and other park information, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter Pile Burning Operations Are Around The Corner

Fire managers at Rocky Mountain National Park plan to take advantage of potential upcoming winter weather conditions to burn piles of slash. Approximately 1,200 existing piles are from several hazard fuels and hazard tree mitigation projects; most are located on the east side of the park. Slash has been cut and piled by park fire crews and contractors during the last two years. More than 700 piles were burned last year.

When fighting the Fern Lake Fire in 2013, firefighters were able to take advantage of previous and existing prescribed fire and hazardous fuels treatment areas that provided a buffer between the fire and Estes Park. Prior hazard fuels projects were instrumental in stopping the fire from jumping Bear Lake Road. Because of the reduced fuel loading in treated areas and the fire lines that had already been created in some locations, firefighters had options to directly and safely attack the fire if it moved to those locations.

Pile burning operations will only begin when conditions allow. The piles are located in a variety of locations on the east side of the park including but not limited to areas north of Glacier Basin Campground on Emerald Mountain, the north slope of Deer Mountain, the Lily Lake area, Bear Lake, along Wild Basin Road and power line, Beaver Mountain and in the Pontiac Administrative area on the west side of the park.

Safety factors, weather conditions, air quality and environmental regulations are continually monitored as a part of any fire management operation. For additional information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park's Information Office at 970-586-1206.


Nearly Half of All Americans Participate in Outdoor Recreation

Almost 143 million Americans, or 49.2 percent of the US population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2013. Although the actual number of outdoor participants increased since 2012, the participation rate fell slightly, due to population growth. The findings are part of The Outdoor Foundation’s 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, the leading report tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth and diversity.

The Outdoor Foundation’s eighth annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report helps the outdoor industry, public agencies and community organizations better understand the trends in outdoor recreation participation, enabling groups to address America’s inactivity crisis and the disconnect between children and the outdoors. The report is based on an online survey of more than 19,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different outdoor activities, making it the largest survey of its kind.

The study, which provides an in-depth look at youth, shows mixed results about the youngest generations’ participation in outdoor activities. Participation among teenage girls made up for some of the losses seen in 2012 by adding three percentage points. Meanwhile, participation rates among girls and young women increased by two percentage points — bringing young women’s participation to the highest rate since 2006. Participation among male youth, on the other hand, either fell or remained steady.

“The Outdoor Participation Report shows that the percentage of female youth who are inspired to enjoy the outdoors is on the rise,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “Although encouraged by the report’s findings, we also recognize that the importance of continuing efforts to engage all young people in outdoor recreation so that we may foster a new generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts and committed stewards.”

The insights detailed in the 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report are critical to national efforts seeking to understand outdoor participation and continuing to reverse America’s inactivity crisis. Some of the additional findings include:


• While 8.1 million Americans started participating in one or more of the outdoor activities measured, 7.4 million stopped. There was net gain of 700,000 total participants and a low churn rate of 5.2 percent.

• Participants went on a total of 12.1 billion outdoor outings in 2013, a minor decrease from 12.4 billion in 2012.

• Almost one-quarter of all outdoor enthusiasts participated in outdoor activities at least twice per week.

• Running, including jogging and trail running, was the most popular activity among Americans when measured by number of participants and by number of total annual outings.

• Fifty-five percent of people living in the West North Central region of the US participated in outdoor activities last year, making its population the most active in outdoor participation.

• Walking for fitness is the most popular crossover activity.

• The biggest motivator for outdoor participation was getting exercise.


• Among children and young adults, participation rose one percentage point, while the rates among the two older age groups lost one percentage point. Teenagers maintained the same participation rate.

• Youth who did not participate in outdoor activities said they were simply not interested in the outdoors.

• Among adults who are current outdoor participants, 74 percent had physical education and 41 percent enjoyed outdoor activities in elementary school.


• As seen in previous reports, outdoor participation is highest among Caucasians and lowest among African Americans.

• Although Hispanics Americans made up a small percentage of total outdoor participants, those who did participate averaged the most annual outdoor outings per person.

• Running was the most popular outdoor activity for all Americans regardless of ethnic or racial affiliation.

Download a complete copy of the 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report.


Monday, November 3, 2014

115 Years and Counting: Volunteers Get Ready for Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Society invites volunteers across the western hemisphere to participate in the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Between December 14, 2014 and January 5, 2015 tens of thousands of participants will brave inclement weather to help scientists assess and guide significant conservation efforts at a scale they could not accomplish alone.

Each year, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 70,000 volunteer observers in more than 2,400 locations. It produces the most comprehensive data set depicting the fluctuation, range and movement of bird populations across the continent. Scientists rely on this trend data to better understand how birds and the environment are faring and what needs to be done to protect them. Every local count is part of this vast volunteer network and continues a holiday tradition that stretches back over 100 years.

“The Audubon Christmas Bird Count harnesses volunteer power to gather knowledge that shapes conservation policy at enormous scales in this country. I couldn’t be prouder of the volunteers who contribute each year,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold.

Many decades of data not only helps identify birds in need of conservation action, it also reveals success stories. The CBC helped document the comeback of the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and significant increases in waterfowl populations, all promising results of conservation efforts.

Last year’s count shattered records. A total of 2,408 counts and 71,659 observers tallied over 66 million birds of 2,403 different species. Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces and over 100 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.

One of the most significant avian incursions recorded during last year’s CBC included the record flight of Snowy Owls in the East Coast and Great Lakes. It was the biggest influx ever documented on the CBC and continued through the winter season. Traditional counting of birds together with high-tech modeling and mapping data enabled researchers to make surprising discoveries that would not have been possible in earlier decades.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which evolved into Audubon magazine – suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds. While the ultimate goal of participating in a count is tallying a representative sample of the birds on a count day, the natural competitive spirit of birders is what drives them to do the most thorough job possible. The CBC has become a treasured holiday tradition, a reunion with birding friends and a way for anyone to play a small part in a big conservation picture. The growing combined pool of contributed sightings helps researchers understand birds in a way that Chapman could never have conceived back in 1900.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a citizen science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the quarterly report, American Birds, will be available online. Audubon Christmas Bird Count information is also available online in Spanish. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels. For more information and to find a count near you visit