Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests Seeks Comments on Forest Restoration Project

The official comment period is now underway for the U.S. Forest Service Boulder Ranger District’s proposed forest health and restoration project called Forsythe II. The comment period ends on Jan. 29, 2016.

Instructions on how to comment, as well as the full proposed action, maps, photos and other project information are located on the project website at

An information session will be held from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 11, at the Nederland Community Center to answer questions.

The Forsythe II project proposes a variety of vegetation management activities in the vicinity of Gross Reservoir and Nederland with the primary goals of restoring a more resilient forest; reducing the potential impacts of wildfire on watersheds; providing opportunities for neighboring landowners to create defensible space on the National Forest boundary near their homes; and improving wildlife habitat to benefit species within the project area.

Proposed forest management activities include clear cutting and patch cutting in lodgepole pine; thinning in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer; and selective cutting to maintain and expand aspen groves and meadows. Most of the cut material will be removed or piled to burn during winter months. Broadcast burning and road decommissioning also are being proposed in some areas to help meet the project’s objectives.

In the coming months, scientific specialists will analyze and disclose potential impacts and benefits of these activities on a range of resource values, including wildlife, watersheds, soils, plants, cultural sites, recreation and residential communities. The total area being analyzed includes 3,900 acres, although management activities would occur on only a portion of those acres.

In addition, 1,970 acres will be analyzed to provide landowners the flexibility to create defensible space on National Forest lands adjacent to their property. The amount of defensible space actually implemented will be determined by landowner requests.

Earlier this fall, the public had an opportunity to provide input on the draft project proposal. The project team considered that input, which included more than 80 written responses, as well as feedback provided during a field day with the public, before developing a formal proposed action.

The public now has 30 days to comment on the proposed action. Comments made during this period will help the team develop alternatives. Typically one or two alternatives are developed and considered. Anyone who wishes to object during the decision making process must submit relevant comments during this official comment period, even if they participated during the initial scoping period.

The environmental analysis will be written over the winter months and a decision is expected by summer 2016. If a decision is made to implement any portion of the project, work could begin as soon as next fall.

To receive updates about this project and other Boulder Ranger District news, please email


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Job Information Session For Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy will be hosting a Job Information Session at the Estes Valley Library on Monday December 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hondius Room. This is your chance to learn about the job application process for Rocky Mountain National Park and how to apply online for specific jobs at the park. Information will also be available regarding positions with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy and park volunteer opportunities.

Currently the park is accepting online applications for work in campgrounds and entrance stations for this summer. In the upcoming months, online applications will be accepted for custodial worker, park guides, and general maintenance workers. All job announcements for Rocky Mountain National Park are posted on


Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Milford Track

As winter descends on the Northern Hemisphere, hiking season is just beginning to hit full stride for our neighbors to the south. Earlier this week one of our website visitors sent us a link to a video they published that documents their trek along the Milford Track in New Zealand.

Considered by many to be one of the "The Finest Walks in the World", the Milford Track traverses through the heart of New Zealand's wild fiord country. Over the course of five days trekkers will hike 34 miles through rain forests, wetlands, and over alpine passes, while spending evenings in comfortable, remote wilderness lodges.

Hope you enjoy this vicarious hike!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Rings in the New Year with First Day Hikes

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will once again sponsor guided hikes slated in state parks across the state on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

Coloradans can find a nearby First Day Hike by clicking here. First Day Hikes was created to offer everyone an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors at a state park close to home.

Colorado State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the crisp cool snow. 

According to the National Association of State Park Directors, nearly 41,000 people hiked 79,000 miles in state parks across the country during the 2015 First Day Hike.

Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide. In addition most parks offer refreshments as well as giveaways provided by a Colorado Parks Foundation grant.

Park staff and volunteers usually lead hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park. You can check out all the options at the CPW’s website.

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. In both 2015 and 2016 all 50 state park systems join together to sponsor First Day Hikes.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ouzel Falls Bridge in Wild Basin Now Open

As many of you are already aware, Rocky Mountain National Park received significant damages to bridges, roads and trails during the historic flood of September of 2013. More than two years later the park is still working to get back to normal. Just this past July, Old Fall River Road finally reopened. During that period the Bridal Veil Falls and Cow Creek Trails have been repaired. The Bridal Veil Falls footbridge, as well as the footbridge across Fern Creek to Odessa Lake have been replaced.

On its website, the park recently announced that the Ouzel Falls footbridge has finally been replaced, and is now open. Over the last two years the missing bridge has all but prevented hikers from reaching Ouzel Lake and Bluebird Lake - a destination that I consider to be one of the best in the park.

Hikers may want to note that the park website states that the spur trail to Ouzel Lake is still damaged.

You may also want to note that Rocky Mountain is considering reroutes and repairs to several trails around the park that were heavily damaged or lost during the flood. In November of 2014 the park announced a proposal to reroute or repair several trails, including: Alluvial Fan, Ypsilon Lake, Lawn Lake, Twin Sisters and Aspen Brook.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Experience Rocky Mountain National Park This Winter

Winter 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, fun activities with park rangers are also offered throughout the winter. Rocky Mountain National Park has a calendar full of fun family activities this winter.

On the east side of the park:

Wild in Winter – December 26 - January 3 at 10:00 a.m. daily, and each weekend. Meet Rocky's wildlife! Come to this 30-minute program at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36) for a hands-on experience. Discover how the park's wildlife adapts to the winter season.

Snowshoe Ecology Walks – December 26, 27, 30 and January 2 at 12:30 p.m. Also on Sat, Sun and Wednesdays between Jan. 2 and March 19th. Join a ranger for a beginner-level snowshoe tour exploring the natural world of a subalpine forest. Participants will need to bring their own snowshoes which can be rented at local sporting goods stores. Reservations are required and can be made beginning December 19, call (970) 586-1223. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

On the west side of the park:

Ski the Wilderness – December 26 through January 30th on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Join a ranger for this 1.5 hour cross-country ski tour of the Kawuneeche Valley. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 19, call (970) 627-3471. Participants must bring their own skis and poles and be 8 years old and above.

Beginner Snowshoe in the Kawuneeche – December 26 through March 5th on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Join a ranger for a beginner-level snowshoe tour. Bring your own snowshoes and poles. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 19;call (970) 627-3471. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

Intermediate Snowshoe Walk - December 27 through March 6th on Sundays at at 1:00 p.m. Join a ranger for 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. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning December 20;call (970) 627-3471. Participants must be 8 years old and above.

On both sides of the park:

"Spirit of the Mountains" and "Wilderness, Wildlife and Wonder" See the stunning park film and beautiful park centennial 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, Monday through Saturday. You can also check out the park's winter newspaper. All park visitor centers will be closed on December 25th.

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this winter, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Is a trek to Everest Base Camp in your future?

Is a trek to Everest Base Camp in your future? Perhaps after watching this short video you might be enticed to put this epic trip on your bucket list!

Ian Taylor, one of the newest advertisers on our Rocky Mountain, Glacier and Grand Teton hiking websites, recently sent me a link to one of his videos showing what it's like to trek to Everest Base Camp.

To date, Ian Taylor Trekking boasts a 99% success rate on this trek. That's important to know, especially when you consider that this round-trip trek takes 16 days to complete. No doubt, this trip isn't for everyone - trekkers will reach heights above 18,000 feet after ascending to the summit of Kala Pattar on day 11.

In addition to Everest Base Camp, Ian also offers guided climbs on peaks in the Mt. Everest region, as well as Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mont Blanc in France, Denali in Alaska, and Mt. Rainier in Washington, among many other trips.

For more information on this awesome trek, as well as all the other guided trips Ian offers, please click here.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Discover the Joys of Winter Hiking

Many hikers tend to run from the woods as soon as the first snow flakes begin to fall. However, winter is great time to hit the trail. Not only are the crowds gone, but many parks show off their true beauty after a fresh snowfall. With just a little more attention to detail beforehand, anyone can have a safe and enjoyable hike during the winter.

Although it might feel quite frigid at the trailhead, your body will begin generating plenty of heat after just 10 or 15 minutes of walking. The best thing you can do to keep the cold out is to dress in layers: a base layer that wicks moisture off your body, a fleece jacket for insulating warmth, and a shell to keep you dry and to keep the wind from penetrating your core. Most importantly, dressing in layers allows you to adjust your attire as you heat-up or cool-off. When dressing for a winter hike, always remember the adage: cotton kills! Never wear anything made of cotton while hiking in the backcountry. Once wet, cotton no longer insulates you from the cold. Moreover, it wicks heat away from your body and puts you at risk of becoming hypothermic.

Some people are prone to cold feet in the winter. One of the keys to keeping your feet warm is to make sure they stay dry. Wear a good pair of hiking socks, made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics, that wick moisture away from your skin, retain heat when wet, and dry faster if they become wet. I always keep an extra pair in my pack in case the ones I’m wearing do get wet. (Expert Advice: How to Choose Socks) You should also wear above-the-ankle hiking boots which help to keep snow away from your feet. You may want to consider wearing gaiters, especially if there are several inches of snow on the ground.

To round-out your winter apparel, don’t forget about a good pair of gloves, a ski cap and maybe even a balaclava.

If the snow is too deep in the mountains, consider hiking at lower elevations, or even wearing snowshoes. If you expect a lot of ice, especially in areas where there might be steep drop-offs, consider bringing crampons specifically made for hiking. These are sometimes referred to as traction devices, or in-step crampons, which you can either strap-on or slide onto your boots.

Trekking poles are another excellent choice for helping to maintain your balance on sections of trail with slick ice and snow.

After outfitting yourself with the proper winter gear, hikers will then need to focus on staying hydrated and properly fueled while out on the trail. Hiking in the cold, especially in snow, burns more calories. By some estimates, hikers can burn as much as 50% more calories when compared to similar distances and terrain in the summer. By not consuming enough calories while on the trail you become prone to getting cold faster. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks with you to munch on periodically throughout your hike. Watch out for foods that can freeze solid, such as some power bars. Or, instead of storing in your backpack, put some snacks inside your fleece jacket. Your body should generate enough heat to prevent them from freezing.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it can actually be easier to experience dehydration in the winter, versus hiking in the summer. Dehydration can occur faster in cold weather because the air is much drier. Moreover, dehydration can be dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure you bring plenty of liquids with you, and drink often while on the trail.

If you’re storing water bottles in your backpack during a very cold day, you may need to insulate them to prevent them from freezing. An old wool sock will work in this case. Also, you may want to turn the bottle upside down to prevent the water from freezing at the neck. If you plan to be out for several hours, consider bringing a thermos containing a hot drink, or even soup.

Other winter hazards hikers need to be aware of include hiking in steep terrain that’s prone to avalanches, or a storm that covers the trail with fresh snow, thus making navigation difficult. You should always carry a topographical map and a compass with you in case you ever need help finding your way back to the trailhead if you were to become lost.

Other gear to bring with you includes a first aid kit, firestarter, waterproof matches, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and maybe even a bivy sack.

Finally, let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time.

With a little care and preparation up front, anyone can discover the joys of winter hiking.

Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Monday, December 7, 2015

Congress Passes Funding Increase For National Park Roadways

National park roadways are slated to receive an 18% increase in funding from the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a non-profit advocacy group, praised Congress for including the increase, which will help fund the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and transportation systems within America’s national parks.

“Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and so many national parks need substantial funding to maintain and improve their roadways. This bill takes a major step forward toward repairing important roads, bridges, and transit systems to ensure visitors can enjoy national parks with their families for years to come,” said Laura Loomis, NPCA’s Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs. “Congress is heading in the right direction toward addressing the costly backlog of road projects.”

The FAST Act authorizes federal highway programs for five years and during the life of this law ramps up the annual funding guarantee to the National Park Service from $268 million to $300 million through the Federal Lands Transportation Program. Overall, the National Park Service will receive an additional $220 million over the span of the five-year bill. Under the previous law, the National Park Service received an annual funding guarantee of $240 million.

Additionally, the new legislation authorizes up to $100 million annually for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program designed to address exceptionally large repair projects such as replacement of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park.

In total, the National Park Service manages roughly 10,000 miles of roadways, which is a greater distance than a roundtrip drive between Washington, DC and Anchorage, Alaska.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

National Parks Announce Free Admission on 16 Days in 2016

The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and wants everyone to celebrate! To help with the centennial celebration, all national parks will be waiving their entrance fees on 16 days in 2016. The 16 entrance fee-free days for 2016 will be:

• January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• April 16 through 24 – National Park Week
• August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday (and following weekend)
• September 24 – National Public Lands Day
• November 11 – Veterans Day

To honor the National Park Service’s centennial, the National Park Foundation has joined the National Park Service to launch a public engagement campaign called Find Your Park to help all Americans discover all the things that national parks can be. Visit for a list of Centennial special events across the country and to learn how to discover, explore, recreate, be inspired, or simply have fun in national parks.

Usually, 127 of the 409 National Park Service sites charge entrance fees that range from $3 to $30. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for things like camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

To continue the national park adventure beyond these fee free days, the $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 sites, including all national parks, throughout the year. There are also a variety of free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current military members, fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”

Today, the National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 409 sites with 28 different designations, including national park, national historical park, national monument, national recreation area, national battlefield, and national seashore. Collectively, these sites contain more than 18,000 miles of trails, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, 247 species of threatened and endangered species, and 167 million museum items.

Last year, almost 293 million people visited national parks. Those visitors spent $15.7 billion in local communities which supported 277,000 jobs and had a $29.7 billion effect on the economy.

The fee free days gives hikers the chance to visit several of the crown jewels in our national park system, including Rocky Mountain, Glacier, or Grand Teton National Park.Of course the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited national park, never charges a fee.


Friday, November 27, 2015


Below is a short film by a rising 20-year old professional photographer by the name of Andrew Studer. The film, called "Restless", was made with 85,000 photos shot over the course of 2 years while Studer hiked throughout the Pacific Northwest. This is from his website:
"Restless" explores the Pacific Northwest's dramatic and diverse locations through the art of timelapse. I decided to name the film what it is not only for the dynamic change a timelapse video is able to display, but also because of how it affected my lifestyle. Working on this film, I myself became 'restless.' I spent just about every weekend and often times school days backpacking, camping and exploring some of the most incredible places the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Shot in a little over two years, countless all nighters, camping trips and spontaneous trips to the mountains and an estimated 85,000 photos were put into to this film to make it what it is. I began filming just after I graduated high school and completed it shortly after deciding to leave college and devote myself to working full time as a freelance photographer/videographer. I know for a fact that working on this helped me see where my true passions lied and was key in giving me to confidence to enter full time into the freelance world.

RESTLESS from Andrew Studer on Vimeo.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Colorado Agencies Team Up for ‘Fresh Air Friday’ on Nov. 27th

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office are teaming up to offer access to all 42 Colorado state parks with ‘Fresh Air Friday,’ to encourage one-and-all to enjoy the outdoors on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015.

Fresh Air Friday means Colorado residents and visitors can spend the day at a state park while GOCO picks up the tab. Amazing recreation opportunities at state parks include miles of trails, scenic views, wildlife viewing and angling among others, and is a great option to the world-class shopping across the state.

“GOCO is covering the cost of access for vehicles that enter our parks. It is a wonderful gesture and demonstrates our shared vision and goals,” said CPW Director, Bob Broscheid. “The last Friday of the month, commonly known as ‘Black Friday’ has a new designation this year in Colorado.”

Colorado joins Arizona, California, Kansas and Minnesota and other states, as well as a number of outdoor recreation retailers and other businesses across the country, in encouraging people to get outdoors following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Outdoor retailer REI started the trend of encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors on the day after Thanksgiving when it decided to close its doors for Black Friday.

CPW offers family-friendly activities, fun-filled adventures and opportunities to learn and try new things at state parks. Check out all there is to do here. You can also find a park near you with the CPW Park Finder.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Help Count Birds for Science During Audubon's Annual Christmas Bird Count

Now in its 116th year, the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14 through January 5. During the count, more than 72,000 volunteers from 2,400-plus locations across the Western Hemisphere record sightings of bird species with the data collected and submitted to Audubon for research on bird populations and environmental conditions.

For more than 100 years, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running wildlife census, has fueled science and conservation action. Each winter, citizen scientists gather in 15-mile-wide circles, organized by a count compiler, and count every bird they see or hear. Their hard work provides valuable insights into population trends for many species that would otherwise go unnoticed and undocumented.

“New tools, including apps, smartphones and map-based technologies, are making it easier than ever for anyone to be a citizen scientist,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. People who watch birds are seeing changes. By recording all those observations, they're contributing the information that's needed to make a difference. I couldn’t be prouder of the volunteers who contribute each year.”

Last year’s count shattered records. A total of 2,462 counts and 72,653 observers tallied over 68 million birds of 2,106 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. Four counts took place in Cuba and new counts in Mexico, Nicaragua and Colombia partook for the first time.

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. 116 years of counting birds is a long time, but the program somehow brings out the best in people, and they stay involved for the long run. Remarkably the entire existence of the program can still be measured with the involvement of two ornithologists—Chapman, who retired in 1934, and Chan Robbins, who started compiling in 1934 and still compiles and participates to this day. The old guard may someday move on, but up-and-coming young birders will fill the ranks. And so the tradition continues.

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, is available online. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to chip in. For more information and to find a count near you visit


Friday, November 20, 2015

National Park Service Unveils 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Designs

Designs for commemorative coins honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) were unveiled today during a ceremony at the Department of the Interior. NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and National Park Foundation (NPF) President and Chief Executive Officer Will Shafroth joined Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios for the unveiling.

Public Law 113-291 authorizes a three-coin program of $5 gold, $1 silver and half-dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Pricing for the National Park Service Commemorative Coins will include surcharges—$35 for each gold coin, $10 for each silver coin, and $5 for each half-dollar clad coin—which are authorized to be paid to the NPF. The funds are to be used for projects that help preserve and protect resources under the stewardship of the NPS and promote public enjoyment and appreciation of these resources.

"When fully realized, the potential impact derived from the commemorative coin sales will be tremendous," said Shafroth. "The funds will improve trails, introduce more young people to the parks, and connect our citizens to the history and culture of our nation."

The gold coin obverse (heads side) features John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt with Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome in the background. Inscriptions are "LIBERTY," "2016" and "IN GOD WE TRUST." United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart designed and sculpted the obverse.

The gold coin reverse (tails side) features the NPS logo, with the inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "$5." Everhart also designed and sculpted the reverse.

The silver coin obverse features Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser and a bison, with the inscriptions "LIBERTY," "NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "1916-2016." United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna designed and sculpted the obverse.

The silver coin reverse depicts a Latina Folkl√≥rico dancer and the NPS logo, representing the multi-faceted cultural experience found in America’s national parks. Inscriptions are "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "$1" "HERITAGE," "CULTURE” and "PRIDE." The reverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Chris Costello and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The clad half-dollar obverse features a hiker discovering the majesty of the wilderness and a small child discovering a frog hiding in ferns, celebrating the diversity and breadth of the NPS. Inscriptions are "LIBERTY," "2016," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "1916" and "NATIONAL PARK SERVICE." The reverse was designed by AIP artist Barbara Fox and will be sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.

The clad half-dollar reverse features the NPS logo, with the inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "HALF DOLLAR," "STEWARDSHIP" and "RECREATION." The reverse was designed by AIP artist Thomas Hipschen and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Charles L. Vickers.

The United States Mint will announce the coins’ release date and additional pricing information prior to their release in 2016. The commemorative coin is one of many incredible ways to celebrate the 2016 centennial.

Sign up to receive information about the coin sales kick off and view the coin designs at


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Living With Elk

Okay, so this video is a little old. However, I thought it was still newsworthy, as elk are becoming even more prevalent throughout Colorado, including Estes Park, the focus of this BBC report:


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

National Parks Adventure - The Movie Trailer

Coming to a theater near you.... This is from the movie website:
As America gets ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service next year, National Parks Adventure takes audiences on the ultimate off-trail experience into America’s great outdoors. Immersive IMAX® 3D cinematography takes viewers soaring over red rock canyons, up craggy mountain peaks that touch the clouds and into other-worldly realms found within America’s most legendary outdoor playgrounds. Join world-famous climber Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe, and artist Rachel Pohl as they hike, climb and adventure across America’s majestic and treasured parks in an action-packed celebration of the wild places that belong to us all.
National Parks Adventure opens February 12, 2016 in select IMAX®, IMAX 3D® and other giant-screen theaters. Looks to be a pretty awesome movie!

Want more? Here's another clip from the movie:


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Scrambling: Risk Assessment

Yesterday we published a video that discusses managing objective hazards that are found while scrambling, a backcountry skill that every hiker should understand. Today, in the final video in this week's series on scrambling, discusses risk assessment:


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scrambling: Objective Hazards

Yesterday we published a video that demonstrated proper foot placement while scrambling, a backcountry skill that every hiker should understand. Today we post the third video in this week's series that discusses managing objective hazards that are found while scrambling. This short video was produced by out of the United Kingdom:


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Foot Placement While Scrambling

Yesterday we published an introduction to scrambling, a backcountry skill that every hiker should understand. Today we post the second video in this week's series that discusses proper foot placement while scrambling - using techniques called smearing and wedging. This short video was produced by out of the United Kingdom:


Monday, November 9, 2015

Rescue Last Night On The Loft Between Longs Peak And Mount Meeker

Late yesterday, November 8, Rocky Mountain National Park rangers were notified by cell phone from a man indicating that he and his 13-year-old son needed assistance. They had summited Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route. They attempted to come down from the summit via Clark's Arrow. The two got off route descending from The Loft between Longs Peak and Mount Meeker.

Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue members reached them at 10:40 p.m. After assessing their condition and evacuation options, they assisted the two down The Loft reaching a backcountry shelter near Chasm Lake at 2:00 a.m. this morning, where they connected with other members of the park's Search and Rescue team. They stayed through the night and all began hiking out this morning. It is estimated they will reach the Longs Peak Trailhead at 10:30 a.m.

The two are from Loveland, Colorado. Because one is a juvenile, park staff will not be releasing their names.


An Introduction to Scrambling

What is scrambling? According to Wikipedia,
"scrambling is a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands. It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering, and easy rock climbing." 
Though most hikers tend to stay on the trail, there are many times when a trail passes over terrain that requires some scrambling. There are other times when hikers will choose to go off-trail in order to reach a vantage point that requires a bit of scrambling. Below is a video by that provides an introduction to scrambling. Over the next couple of days I'll be publishing subsequent videos that highlight various aspects of scrambling, with the intent of building or reaffirming skills that are necessary for safe hiking.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Trail Ridge Road Closes To Through Travel For The Season - Rocky Mountain National Park Remains Open

Today, October 30, 2015, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park officially closed for the season to through travel. 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. 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 acting park superintendent Ben Bobowski, "At high elevations we continue to receive snow, 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: November 4, 2014, 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 29.

Old Fall River Road closed for the season on October 23. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets until November 30, re-opening on April 1, except during road maintenance operations and emergency closures as posted. Cyclists and pet owners may utilize the road at their own risk. After November 30, both of these roads will revert to "winter trail status" which means that bicycles and leashed 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.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recently Discovered Fossil Mammoth Bone on Display in Canon City

A fossil mammoth tibia (lower leg bone) was discovered on the San Isabel National Forest in July, 2015. It is currently on display through November 25 in the Canon City BLM/USFS field office.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) soils scientist Steve Sanchez noticed prominent sedimentary rock layers in the area which might contain dinosaur tracks. Bruce Schumacher, a paleontologist for the USFS Rocky Mountain Region followed up on the information and it led to the fossil discovery.

According to Schumacher, “The geology of this area is dominated by Jurassic and Early Cretaceous rock formations (100 – 150 million years old) and so I was expecting to see evidence of dinosaur bones or tracks. When I first spotted the fossil from a long distance, I assumed it was a large dinosaur limb bone, especially since it was exposed in red claystone sediments like the Morrison Formation. Close inspection revealed that the bone was definitely that of a large mammal.”

Schumacher added, “In some respects, the discovery of an ‘elephant’ on the Forest is so much more meaningful than that of a dinosaur. We know that mammoths were around recently enough to share the same landscape that we know today. Imagine a herd of mammoths with Spanish Peaks on the horizon”.

The fossil mammoth bone will be moved to the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center for long-term display this winter. San Carlos District Ranger Paul Crespin said, “I’m very pleased to work with our local Museum to keep this here locally where it was found.”

The mammoth bone was deposited by stream action on top of the dinosaur-bearing Morrison Formation, and was then covered by Pleistocene flood and rockfall deposits. The bone was found in what are likely Pleistocene aged gravel deposits that can be up to 1 million years or more in age. This time period includes the beginning of the ice age, a time when large mammals commonly referred to as “Megafauna” roamed the earth. A typical mammoth would have stood about nine feet tall at its shoulder, and is most closely related to Asian elephants of today.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Old Fall River Road In Rocky Mountain National Park Closes For The Season

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park continues to be closed due to snow accumulation from the recent storm, three foot drifting in some locations and freezing temperatures. It is unknown when the road may reopen.

Old Fall River Road has also closed for the season. The road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets until November 30, re-opening on April 1, except during road maintenance operations and emergency closures as posted. Cyclists and pet owners may use the road at their own risk. The road closure means that access to the Chapin Creek Trailhead will also be limited.

For recorded Trail Ridge Road status please call (970) 586-1222. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206 or visit


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park Announces Pile Burning Operations For This Winter

Fire managers from Rocky Mountain National Park plan to take advantage of upcoming wet or winter weather conditions to burn piles of slash generated from several fuels reduction projects and hazard tree removals. Slash from these projects has been cut and piled by park fire crews and contractors during the last two years and are now dry enough to burn.

When fighting the Fern Lake Fire in 2012, 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.

Pile burning operations will only begin when conditions allow. They may begin as early as November 1 and continue through April as conditions permit. The piles are located in a variety of locations on the east side of the park including inside the park boundary adjacent to Allenspark, around Eagle Cliff Mountain, along upper Fall River Road and Beaver Mountain.

The fuels reduction projects are designed to reduce significant accumulations of forest fuels that can generate extreme or problematic fire behavior adjacent to the urban interface. By reducing the potential fire behavior the wildland fire risk to firefighters and the public is significantly reduced. However, these projects are not designed as a stand-alone defense against wildfires nor are they guaranteed to hold a wildfire in the worst of conditions. Park officials ask that you continue to do your part and complete wildfire mitigation on your property. To learn more about wildfire mitigation around your home, please click here.

Safety factors, weather conditions, air quality and other environmental regulations are continually monitored as a part of any fire management operation. Prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. For more information click here.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Colorado Parks and Wildlife To Raise Camping Fees Effective Nov. 1

To assure the continued high quality of Colorado's State Parks, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announces increases to basic, electric, full hook-up and cabin/yurt camping fees at the 33 parks where camping is available, effective Nov. 1. This is the first increase in camping fees since 2010.

“Our wonderful state parks require a large amount of maintenance, and rising costs of utilities, equipment and personnel has made this fee increase imperative,” said CPW Statewide Parks Pass and Reservations Coordinator, Devon Adams.

The change was approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission at its September meeting. Depending upon the type of site, fee increases range from $2 to $10 per night.

Yurts and cabins incurred the greatest hike, but CPW notes the experience for campers provides a cost-effective getaway.

“Some of Colorado’s most pristine sights and panoramic views are found at state parks that offer cabins and yurts, some still as low as $70/night,” adds Adams. “It is a great deal and no wonder our most popular camping sites fill up six months in advance.”

CPW has more than 3,900 campsites available, many including electrical hookups and close-by restroom and shower facilities, plus 50 cabins and yurts located throughout the state at elevations ranging from approximately 3,800 to 9,400 feet. Almost 300 campsites are ADA accessible. More information is available here.

The current camping fees will not change for those who have already made future reservations.

Most camping fees range from $10 - $28, not including the reservation fee and park pass. Every vehicle entering the park, including RVs and towed vehicles, must have a park pass for each day. Annual park passes are $70, and most daily parks passes are $7.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is the Smokey Bear Ad Campaign Effective?

So I was listening to late night radio the other night when I heard the latest Smokey Bear PSA for the umpteenth time. For some reason the tagline phrase at the end of the commercial, “9 out of 10 wildfires are started by humans”, stood out for me this time. We’ve all heard that statistic a million times, but have you ever considered that this is basically the same stat that’s been cited since the launch of the Smokey Bear campaign?

In 1944 the Smokey Bear campaign was launched with the mission of creating and maintaining public awareness of wild fires. The campaign's original catch phrase, "Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires", was proclaimed on the very first campaign poster (seen on the right). According to the Smokey Bear website, “Fire prevention was a real concern since 9 out of 10 wildfires were human caused during the period 1946 to 1950.”

However, that same statistic continues to be cited today in current Smokey Bear commercials, as well as on the NPS Fire and Aviation Management website, the Insurance Information Institute website, and various national forest websites. According to a graph published by EcoWest, using data from the National Interagency Fire Center, the percent of human-caused wildfires has remained fairly constant between the years 2001 and 2012 (red line):

So the question that came to mind while lying in bed that night was how is it, or why haven’t we seen a significant decrease in the number of human-caused wildfires since the Smokey Bear campaign was launched more than 70 years ago? No doubt the campaign has been highly successful in raising awareness of the issue over the years. According to the Ad Council (which runs the Smokey Bear campaign), “96 percent of U.S. adults recognize him, and 70 percent are able to recall his message without prompting.” That's an incredible statistic – one that every marketer in the world wishes they could claim! But why haven’t we seen an improvement in the number of human-caused wildfires over the last 70 years?

In defense of the Ad Council, they also state on their website that “Most importantly, the average number of acres lost annually to wildfire has decreased from 22 million in 1944 to an average of 6.7 million today.“ A quick glance at annual wildfire data published by the National Interagency Fire Center would seem to confirm this claim. However, at the bottom of that report, it notes that annual wildland fire statistics
“is provided through Situation Reports, which have been in use for several decades. Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result the figures above prior to 1983 shouldn’t be compared to later data.”
Interestingly, the number of fires reported before 1983 is far greater than the years that follow, though the number of acres burned is comparatively constant (the data only goes back to 1960). From my point of view, the claim from the Ad Council appears to be an “apples to oranges” comparison, and therefore isn’t valid. Moreover, it appears the Ad Council is comparing one year – 1944 – to the most recent 12-year average, which isn’t a statistically valid way of comparing the two time periods. As you can see in the chart below (published by the Insurance Information Institute), the total number of acres burned each year fluctuates widely (graph shows number of acres in millions from 1980 to 2014):

It’s very possible that 1944 was an outlier year. An average from that time period, with valid data using the same collection methods and from same sources as used today would be the only correct way to measure this claim. Which brings me back to my original question: why haven’t we seen an improvement in the number of human-caused wildfires over the last 70 years?

Is it possible that our collective conservationist ethic hasn’t improved, or is less now than in years past? It would seem unlikely, but I don’t have any data to support or refute this assertion.

Is it a generational phenomenon? In other words, is it a lesson, or an awareness issue, that each generation has to learn as they come of age? A review of the statistics on the ages of all the human-caused wildfires over the last 70 years would prove (or disprove) that theory. Unfortunately I don’t have access to those statistics, but they would be interesting to see, and would be the only logical reason why we haven’t seen an improvement in this problem over the last several decades. Indeed, it does appear that the Ad Council tries to target younger people, especially when you consider the campaign tactics that have been used over the years. However, can you really say that the campaign has been successful when the needle hasn’t moved in 70 years?

What are your thoughts? Is there another reason for the problem that I'm overlooking? Is there a more effective way of dealing with the issue? Is the Ad Council wasting our federal tax dollars on a problem it hasn’t fixed?


Hazard Tree Mitigation Above Milner Pass Along Trail Ridge Road

Bark beetles continue to be active within Rocky Mountain National Park, impacting large numbers of conifer trees. Mitigation of the effects of beetles is focused on removing hazard trees and hazard fuels related to the protection of life and property. For several years, Rocky Mountain National Park has had a proactive bark beetle management program. In recent years, spruce bark beetles have been considered at outbreak levels throughout the park. In 2015, the park has continued its mitigation efforts by removing hazardous trees and implementing temporary closures in a variety of park locations.

Park staff will be conducting hazard tree mitigation through tree removal above Milner Pass through late October. Temporary road closures can be expected along ¼ mile-long sections of Trail Ridge Road on the west side of the park beginning today, October 20, through Thursday, October 22 and from Monday, October 26 through Thursday, October 29. Up to 30 minute traffic delays may take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. within the project area above Milner Pass. Material disposal will involve consolidation at designated sites for future use including firewood collection permits. More information on wood utilization will be available during the summer of 2016.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Special Astronomy Night At Rocky Mountain National Park

In conjunction with the White House Astronomy Night, Rocky Mountain National Park will be hosting their own celebration Monday, October 19th, at 6 p.m. at the Moraine Park Discovery Center. Join a park ranger for a thirty minute presentation about the wonders of the night sky followed by viewing through telescopes.

Seeing the Milky Way or a particular constellation can be inspirational for park visitors.In Rocky Mountain National Park, as in other parks, natural darkness of starry skies is an important resource of this special place.

For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Caught on Video: 4 Hikers Survive Suspension Bridge Failure

Sorry, but it's been quite a few years since I've brushed up on my high school French, but you really don't need to know the language to know how frightening this had to have been for these four hikers in New Zealand. The video was published a few days ago by Adrien Whistle, presumably from France. Based on the Google translation, the video essentially states that one of the main cables of the suspension bridge broke as the four hikers were crossing it, at which point they fell 8 meters (26 feet) into the river. Fortunately there were no serious injuries. It's pretty crazy that the whole episode was caught on film:


Tuesday, October 6, 2015 Adds 8 New Hikes

This past August/September Kathy and I spent a couple of weeks hiking in the San Juan Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to making a few improvements to existing hikes already on our website (i.e., better photos), we also hiked 5 new trails which have been recently published to our website. Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes on our site:

Chapin / Chiquita / Ypsilon - after three unsuccessful attempts to hike the "CCY Route" due to bad weather, the 4th time was a finally a charm on this trip. As you might expect, with Ypsilon Mountain being the 5th highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, the views along much of this hike are simply outstanding. As a result, this hike has made our revised Top 10 Hikes list for the park.

Four Lakes Loop - as you might expect from the name, the so called 'Four Lakes Loop" visits four subalpine lakes in the Bear Lake area. It also visits the popular Alberta Falls along this spectacular and popular one-way loop hike.

Shadow Mountain Lookout - located just outside of Grand Lake on the west side of the park, this hike gives you the opportunity to visit that last remaining fire lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Upper Beaver Meadows Loop - Expansive views of Longs Peak and the mountains along the Continental Divide await you from the montane grassy meadows along this one-way loop hike.

Bridal Veil Falls - Although not very well known, Bridal Veil Falls is a surprisingly nice waterfall located a few miles north of Estes Park. The hike begins from the historic McGraw Ranch.

Other Colorado Hikes:

In addition to the 10 days we spent in Rocky Mountain National Park, we also spent a few days hiking in the San Juan Mountains in the Ouray area. I’ve often said that the San Juan Mountains could easily qualify as a national park, and if included, would definitely rank as one of the crown jewels in the entire national park system. Two of the hikes we "discovered" on this trip, Ice Lakes and Black Face Mountain, proved my point once again:

Ice Lakes - Ice Lake is the most brilliant blue color I’ve ever seen in nature. Combine this extraordinarily beautiful alpine lake with outstanding mountain scenery and several thousand wildflowers, and you have one of the best hikes found just about anywhere.

Black Face Mountain - Although Black Face Mountain may look fairly nondescript from the top of Lizard Head Pass, don't be deceived - the views from the summit are quite stunning.

Ouray Perimeter Trail - Most of the trails in the San Juan Mountains lead to or traverse fairly high elevations. The Ouray Perimeter Trail offers hikers the opportunity to acclimate before hitting the more scenic trails in the surrounding area. In addition to enjoying the mountain scenery around "Switzerland of America", this hike offers visitors the chance to learn more about the rich history of Ouray.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Fatality On Longs Peak Recovery Efforts Complete

At 10:30 p.m. Friday night, October 2, Rocky Mountain National Park rangers were notified that Spencer Veysey, 26, of Missoula, Montana was overdue. He had been planning to summit Longs Peak. It was unclear what route he was intending to take to the summit.

After he failed to return by Saturday morning, park rangers searched areas of the Keyhole Route as well as near Chasm Lake. Rangers experienced icy conditions during search efforts. Late Saturday afternoon, park rangers found Veysey's body at the bottom of Lambs Slide on the east face of Longs Peak. Rangers stayed at the Chasm Shelter, near his body last night.

Yesterday morning rangers prepared his body for transport. His body was flown from the scene to a landing spot at Upper Beaver Meadows at approximately 11:30 a.m. yesterday, and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner. 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park Seeking Information Regarding Low Flying Aircraft

On Friday, September 25th, at approximately 5:30 p.m. an ultralight aircraft flew low in the area of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. Park rangers are reaching out to the public for any information pertaining to this incident. They are interested in speaking with witnesses or anyone who might have photographs or videos of the aircraft.

If you have any information related to this incident please call Rocky Mountain National Park's Communications Center at (970) 586-1204.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Pike and San Isabel National Forests Conducting Customer Satisfaction Survey

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) will be conducting the National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) project beginning today, October 1, 2015. Forest managers expect to interview nearly 4,000 visitors over the next year for valuable insight into the perspectives of people who enjoy these national treasures.

“We are very excited about this survey since it’s a voice directly from the people we serve. The results will tell us the thoughts and expectations of our national forest and grassland visitors,” said Forest and Grassland Supervisor Erin Connelly.

The NVUM project will also gather input from outfitters and guides as well as lodging facilities, campgrounds, and ski areas to complement this comprehensive study. In addition to customer satisfaction, these short interviews provide land managers with relevant statistics as they establish funding priorities. It is conducted in five year intervals and this marks the fourth survey of its kind.

The PSICC hosts over six million entries annually.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park Increases Entrance And Camping Fees

Beginning today, October 1st, Rocky Mountain National Park is increasing entrance fees in order to fund important maintenance and improvement projects within the park. Because of Rocky's proximity to the populated Colorado Front Range, the park will be adding a single day pass to the existing option of fees. This "Day Use Pass" will be $20 while the weekly pass will increase to $30 for those visitors who intend to enjoy the park for multiple days. The annual park pass will increase to $50 and eventually increase to $60 by 2017. Campground fees will also increase to $18 a night for winter rates and $26 a night for summer rates. Campground fees are based on comparable fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds.

Officials state that they are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and providing visitors with the best possible experience. They point out that this fee increase is still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences one can enjoy. Plus, 80 percent of those funds stay right in Rocky to benefit visitors. As the park culminates the celebration of Rocky's Centennial, these funds will be critical as they move forward into the next one hundred years.

Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences, including renovating all campground restroom facilities, rehabilitating and maintaining approximately 100 of the park's 350 miles of trails, replacing trailhead signs, replacing picnic tables throughout the park, mitigating hazard trees in or near park facilities such as campgrounds, parking lots, road corridors and visitor centers, and operating the park's visitor shuttle bus system.

In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. Rocky Mountain National Park staff solicited public input beginning in October 2014. During the public comment period, the park received 95 formal comments that were related to the park's proposed fee changes. Based on comments received, there was significantly more support for the proposed fee rate changes than opposed. Park visitors seem to be highly supportive of fees in general and making the connection with the park's effort in providing tangible benefits to visitors through fee revenue.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the park currently collects entrance and amenity fees. This law allows parks to retain 80 percent of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Since the beginning of FLREA and its predecessor program Fee Demo, the park has spent over $66 million in repairs, renovations, improvements and resource restoration.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2014, more than 3.4 million park visitors spent $217 million and supported 3,382 jobs, which had a cumulative benefit to the economy of $329 million.

In January 2005, Rocky Mountain National Park was the last of the larger size parks in the Intermountain Region to adopt the $20 per vehicle weekly rate. That same year the annual pass increased to $35, and to $40 in 2009, the last year of any increase in fees. Last year, Rocky Mountain National Park was the fifth most visited national park in the United States.