Friday, December 26, 2014

Video: The Colorado Trail ... Most Beautiful Trail in America

From Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail travels 567 miles through some of the beautiful terrain the Centennial State has to offer.

In this short video the Colorado Trail Foundation makes an excellent case as to why, mile for mile, "the Colorado Trail is the most beautiful trail in America". Enjoy:


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Programs Offered During The Holidays At Rocky Mountain National Park

The holiday season is a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing and a variety of winter recreational activities to do on your own, some fun activities with park rangers are offered. Rocky Mountain National Park has a calendar full of fun family activities for the holidays.

On the east side of the park:

Read with a Ranger! – December 26, 29, 31 and January 1 at 10:30 a.m. daily. Hear stories about the wonders of the winter season. Meet at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36) for this 30 minute program.

Animals in Winter – December 27, 30, and January 1 and 3 at 10:30 a.m. daily. Meet Rocky's wildlife! Come to this 30-minute program at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36) for a hands-on experience.

Wild in Winter – December 21, 28, and January 4 at 10:00 a.m. Drop in for an informal chat with a ranger to explore how the park's animals handle the winter season.

Snowshoe Ecology Walks – December 28, 30 and January 2 at 12:30 p.m. Join a ranger for a beginner- level snowshoe tour exploring the natural world of a subalpine forest. Ages 8 years old and above. Participants will need to bring their own snowshoes which can be rented at local sporting goods stores. Reservations required, can be made beginning December 21; call (970) 586-1223.

Full Moon Walk: Sunday, January 4 – Explore the wintery world of Rocky Mountain National Park under the light of a full moon. Join a park ranger on a moderate walk and share stories of the magic of moonlight. Dress in warm layers and wear waterproof boots. Gaitors and traction devices may be helpful. Reservations required, and can be made beginning December 28; call (970) 586-1223. Time and location will be given at the time of reservation.

On the west side of the park:

Ski the Wilderness – December 27 and January 3 at 9:30 a.m. Join a park ranger for this 1.5 hour cross-country ski tour of the Kawuneeche Valley. For ages 8 and above. Reservations required, and can be made beginning December 21; call (970) 627-3471.

Snowshoe in the Kawuneeche – December 27 and January 3 at 1:00 p.m. Beginner-level snowshoe tour with a ranger. For ages 8 and above. Bring your own snowshoes and poles. Reservations required, and can be made beginning December 21; call (970) 627-3471.

Intermediate Snowshoe Walk - December 28 and January 4 at 1:00 p.m. A more rigorous tour with elevation gains up to 500 feet. This tour requires the ability to maintain a good pace over uneven terrain at high altitude. Bring your own snowshoes and poles. For ages 8 and above. Reservations required, and can be made beginning December 22; call (970) 627-3471.

On both the east and west side of the park:

Spirit of the Mountains – Park Movie - Shown by request daily. See the stunning 23 minute park film at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36 west of Estes Park) and the Kawuneeche Visitor Center (located on Highway 34 north of Grand Lake).

Programs continue through the winter. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206. All park visitor centers and the Information Office will be closed on December 25.

If you do plan on visiting Rocky Mountain National Park this winter, please note that our hiking website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings for both Estes Park and Grand Lake to help with all your vacation planning.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Time-lapse Video of Inversion at the Grand Canyon

A rare ground inversion last Thursday filled the Grand Canyon from rim to rim with a sea of clouds.

Ground inversions at Grand Canyon are a sight to behold – clouds fill the canyon with sunny, blue skies above the rims. The topography of Grand Canyon enhances the effect of inversions, creating the dramatic views of a sea of fog and clouds seemingly dense enough to walk out on.

Ground inversions occur when cold air is trapped by a layer of warm air. On clear, cold nights ground temperatures cool rapidly. Air in contact with cold surfaces cools and sinks. At Grand Canyon cold, moist air drops into the canyon forming cascading “waterfalls” of clouds pouring down the rim filling the canyon. Warm air above the rim holds the clouds in place until enough solar radiation is received to warm the surface of the rocks, heating the cold, dense clouds in the canyon and causing them to rise.

Visitors at Grand Canyon during an inversion are challenged to be patient. Waiting out the warming process is well worth the effort; when the clouds start to lift the currents of air swirl and turn on themselves parting like curtains to reveal bursts of color and light, a breathtaking spectacle.

Below is a one minute time-lapse video from the Grand Canyon National Park showing what happened last Thursday:


Saturday, December 13, 2014

CMC Video: Avalanche Safety and Winter Travel

Planning a trip into the mountains this winter? You should probably watch this video first - as a first step towards building your winter skills set and practicing safety while recreating in the backcountry during the winter. This is the first video in the Colorado Mountain Club's series focused on backcountry education. The series was made possible by the CMC Steve Gladbach Memorial Fund.

Steve Gladbach was a beloved Colorado mountaineer, a long time member of the Colorado Mountain Club, and was a member of the community. He loved climbing. In the summer of 2013 he lost his life while descending Thunder Pyramid Peak.

One of Steve's passions was mountaineering education and safety. Through the generosity of family and friends, the Steve Gladbach Memorial Fund was created to promote Colorado mountaineering education.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Development of Climbing Commercial Services Strategy Continues at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is currently in the planning phase of developing a Commercial Services Strategy for guided commercial climbing in the park. This summer the park solicited comment and input from a variety of different stakeholders. This feedback was evaluated and is being used to continue to develop the park's strategy. It is estimated that less than 1% of total climbing in the park results from guided climbing; the remainder comes from private, non-commercial use.

During 2015, the park will issue limited-trip Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA) for guided technical climbing in the park. These CUAs provide an opportunity for qualified mountaineering companies to access the park on a limited basis. In 2015, the park will issue one limited-trip CUA permit for guided technical climbing per company. Each permit will allow up to three non-consecutive calendar days of guided technical climbing in the park. The maximum number of clients allowed per day will be twelve. Trips will be subject to appropriate guide-to-client ratios as outlined by the park. Post-trip reporting will be required of all permit holders.

To apply for a limited technical climbing CUA permit, a complete application packet must be submitted to the park's concession office a minimum of one month in advance of the first client day. Applications are currently being accepted. These limited guided climbing CUA permits are only for 2015 and companies should only anticipate operating in the park during the 2015 calendar year.

For a limited-trip CUA application packet or for any questions about the permits and the application process, please contact the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

State Forest State Park hosts 115th Annual Christmas Bird Count

State Forest State Park will once again welcome birders from across the country and the world to participate in 115th National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 19.

The tradition began over 100 years ago when a small group of wildlife watchers proposed an alternative to a 'side hunt' in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and mammals. Led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, his team of 27 people began to identify, count and record a variety of birds.

Today, the Christmas Bird Count is recognized as one of the most important, citizen-based conservation efforts in the world with several thousand people participating across the Americas.

"We appreciate every participants efforts in helping catalogue the variety of birds in North Park and across the Western Hemisphere," said State Forest State Park Manager Joe Brand. "It should be a great time for everyone."

The CBC has become vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds. The data collected by the volunteers has become a crucial part of the U. S. Government’s natural history monitoring database.

This year's count officially kicks-off on Dec. 14, running through Jan.15, 2015; however, to participate in the count at State Forest State Park, arrive at the Moose Visitor Center, Dec. 19 at 8 a.m., prepared with a good pair of binoculars, a good reference book and appropriate clothing.

After a light breakfast provided by the park, small groups will head out for a fun day of counting birds. A warm meal will be available at the end of the day.

Who: State Forest State Park and the National Audubon Society

What: Annual Christmas Bird Count

When: December 19, 2014, 8:00 am

Where: State Forest State Park Moose Visitor Center, 56750 Highway 14 (1 mile east of Gould)

Contact: Deb McLachlan 970-723-8366 Ext. 12, or by email.

For more information about State Forest State Park, click here.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Improvised Explosive Device Found In Redwood National and State Parks

A Redwood National and State Parks maintenance employee unknowingly collected an improvised explosive device (IED) at an illegal dump site on state park lands on the morning of Monday, December 1st, according to the NPS Morning Report.

The device was transported to the park’s Northern Operations Center, where it was quickly identified as an IED. Rangers were notified, responded and immediately evacuated employees from the facility. The entire operations center, surrounding area, and entrance road were also secured.

Rangers then coordinated with personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Humboldt County Bomb Squad, Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, NPS Fire, Crescent City Fire and Del Norte Ambulance to aid in scene containment and ensure safety. The Humboldt County Bomb Squad employed a mobile robot to render the device safe.

Due to the remote location of the operations center, there was no direct threat to public safety and the area was reopened for normal operations by 6 p.m. Rangers are working with ATF agents and the incident is under active investigation.

This report comes just one month after an improvised explosive device was found near a trail in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia. An FBI investigation continues into that incident as well.


Colorado National Monument: Please Slow Down for the Desert Bighorn Sheep

To many of us, the wild beauty of bighorn sheep captures the spirit of Colorado. They are the state mammal and seem to embody the essence of wilderness and wild. Two subspecies of bighorn sheep are native to Colorado. It is the Desert bighorn (Orvis canadensis nelsoni) that live in the canyon country of western Colorado. They are the animal that people who visit Colorado National Monument from near and far most want to see and photograph.

Although present historically, a survey of western states in 1960 found there to be no Desert bighorn sheep left in Colorado. The present-day Black Ridge herd was established through four translocations during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Their population has fluctuated but last spring, Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife estimated there to be between 40-50 Desert bighorn sheep living primarily within Colorado National Monument, and approximately 200 sheep in the greater area including the monument and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. Desert bighorn sheep are social animals, and when seen are often in bands of eight to 10 individuals.

Colorado National Monument is a refuge for wildlife; an area where they can not only survive but thrive. Three times this fall, bighorn sheep have been hit and injured by vehicles traveling too fast on Rim Rock Drive. The most recent accident occurred yesterday morning on the west hill between the Balanced Rock pullout and the lower tunnel, and involved one ewe in a small band of sheep. Park officials are asking for help from drivers and bicyclists - the speed limit along the west hill is 25 mph to help protect wildlife. Please do your part. Be watchful. Slow down. Give yourself time to react when a ewe or ram jumps down from an adjacent ledge onto the roadway in front of your vehicle.

A second, larger band of Desert bighorn sheep has been seen frequently crossing Rim Rock Drive and munching grasses at the edge of the roadway where it crosses upper Wedding Canyon between the visitor center and Independence Monument viewpoint. Drivers and bicyclists are asked to keep a distance of 75 feet between themselves and the sheep. Please respect the space the sheep need to feel safe and unstressed.

Desert bighorn sheep do not pioneer new range or move to new habitats easily, even those adjacent to areas in current use. They will likely continue to inhabit Fruita and Wedding canyons, and be seen on and near Rim Rock Drive. The monument can be a refuge for wildlife but only with your help.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park And Partners Receive Environmental Leadership Award

The NPS Air Resources Division, Rocky Mountain National Park, and several federal, state, university, and agricultural partners received a State of Colorado environmental leadership award on October 2nd.

The award recognized partnership efforts to develop and pilot an early warning system to help protect the park from excess nitrogen deposition. The system is designed to advise Colorado agricultural producers when to voluntarily avoid high nitrogen-emitting activities, such as manure handling and crop fertilizing, during specific weather events that could readily transport nitrogen into the park.

The NPS is collaborating with Colorado agricultural producers to voluntarily reduce their ammonia emissions through use of science-based best management practices. The collaboration includes research, monitoring, outreach, and development of the early warning system.

Partners that also received the environmental leadership award for this system included the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, Colorado State University, Colorado Livestock Association, Colorado Corn Growers Association, and Colorado Wheat Growers Association.

Over 25 years of scientific research indicates that atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the park is approximately 15 times greater than the natural background deposition rate. Three-quarters of the park has high elevation ecosystems, including alpine tundra, that are especially susceptible to impacts from excess nitrogen deposited by rain or snow.

About half of the excess nitrogen comes from nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted by fossil fuel use by automobiles and industry; the other half comes from sources of ammonia, the largest source category being agriculture.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the park, with assistance from its partners, developed and is working collaboratively to implement a 2007 nitrogen deposition reduction plan.

While the plan will also help improve park visibility and ozone conditions, its focus is to reduce the ecological impacts of excess nitrogen through reducing nitrogen deposition by approximately 50% (to 1.5 kg/ha/yr) over 25 years (by 2032). An effective early warning system may assist in achieving this long term goal and help to preserve and protect the park for future generations.