Monday, March 30, 2015

The Colorado Trail Foundation Seeks Trail Crew Volunteers

The Colorado Trail Foundation needs your help in caring for the 567-mile Colorado Trail. The CTF is inviting the public to join them on one or more of their Trail Crews this summer. Volunteers will team up to complete essential trail improvements, set up camp, prepare meals and enjoy the evening campfire. Crew projects range anywhere from constructing water diversions and removing hazardous obstacles to building bridges and creating new trail. The CTF promises lots of fun, rewarding work, fresh air and new friends!

Some of the benefits of volunteering include:

• Camp Out in the Colorado Rockies
• Build the Trail
• Armor, improve, make it last
• Create drainage to prevent erosion
• Team Up
• Help Preserve The Colorado Trail

For more information, and a work schedule, please click here.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Prevent Blisters

As Sheri Propster emphatically states, blisters do suck! In this short video she offers several ways to help prevent, and treat, blisters. A couple years ago I also published a blog that offers several tips for "taking care of your hiking feet", which provides an overview of taking care of your entire foot while hiking.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Arkansas Headwaters presents Cottonwood Gulch hike

Volunteer Naturalist Bob Hickey of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) will lead the public on AHRA’s first spring hike on Saturday, March 28, through Cottonwood Gulch east of Salida. Hickey is excited to begin AHRA’s 2015 spring and summer hike line up with this “hidden gem” of a walk through unique closed and open canyon scenery.

Hikers will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the trailhead on Railroad Street in Salida, which is accessed off County Road 175 and runs south and parallel to the railroad tracks along the east side of the Arkansas River. Throughout the duration of the hike, participants will experience a variety of spectacular geology and unique rock features while traversing pinon forests and beautiful valleys.

The hike will be approximately six miles round trip, and last about five hours including breaks, lunch and geology exploring along the way. Hikers need to dress for the weather and trail conditions, and bring water, sunscreen, a sack lunch and snacks. There is no fee for the event, but interested hikers must call AHRA at 719-539-7289 by the morning of March 27 to register and for exact directions and detailed hike information.

The AHRA is managed through a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Formed in 1989, this partnership allows agencies to provide visitors with recreation opportunities and care for significant natural resources of the upper Arkansas River valley.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

10 Ways to Use a Bandanna On The Trail

Do you carry a bandanna in your pack? Good thing, because there are several uses for this ubiquitous piece of cloth. In this short video Backpacker Magazine offers 10 ways to use a bandanna while in the backcountry:


Monday, March 9, 2015

Parking will be Significantly Limited at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park During Construction

People from all over the world come to visit Arches National Park each year, and visiting Delicate Arch is on the top of most visitors' to-do lists. With an increase in visitation in recent years, parking spaces are at a premium.

To address this issue, the park has announced plans to expand the parking lot this year.

In March 2015, construction crews will begin the first phase of expanding parking at the Delicate Arch / Wolfe Ranch trailhead parking area. This project is part of the planned congestion management strategies outlined in the Delicate Arch / Wolfe Ranch Site Plan. During this construction project, parking will be significantly limited. On most days, parking at the Delicate Arch trailhead will be full by 9 am.

RVs, trailers and buses will not be able to park at the trailhead. Large-vehicle parking may be available at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, 1 mile down the road. Buses will need to unload passengers at the trailhead, then drive to the viewpoint to park. Instead of trying to park at the viewpoint, you can save yourself time by leaving larger vehicles at the visitor center or outside the park.

Phase one of the construction project will will begin March 23, 2015 and last through May. Phase two of the project will take place in June or July over approximately one week, and will focus on paving and striping of the expanded parking area.

The trailhead will remain open with limited parking Monday through Thursday, and be fully open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Visitors should consider that they may not be able to hike to Delicate Arch this year, as there simply will not be enough parking at the Delicate Arch trailhead. Parking lots will be full most of the day. You can still see the arch from the Delicate Arch Viewpoint. The park suggests that you may want visiting on another day, or hiking somewhere else in the park, such as Park Avenue.

If you still want to hike to Delicate Arch remember:

* Sunrise is just as beautiful as sunset, and always less busy. You might find several hundred people at Delicate Arch for sunset, but just a handful for sunrise. Try to enter the park before 8 am. Get an early start, and beat the crowds. 

* If parking at the trailhead is full, there may be parking available at the viewpoint parking lot. You may hike from the viewpoint, but you will have to hike 1 mile along the road to the trailhead. The total roundtrip hike distance increases to 5 miles.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Temporary Closures Implemented To Protect Nesting Raptors

Each year to protect raptor nesting sites, Rocky Mountain National Park officials initiate temporary closures in the Lumpy Ridge and Sheep Mountain areas of the park. To ensure that these birds of prey can nest undisturbed, specific areas within the park are closed temporarily to public use during nesting season and monitored by wildlife managers. All closures started on March 1st and will continue through July 31st, if appropriate. These closures may be extended longer or rescinded at an earlier date depending on nesting activity.

Closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, Alligator Rock, Sheep Mountain, and Twin Owls, Rock One. These closures include the named formations. Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. Check the park's website for updated information on raptor closures.

The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey. The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers. The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.

These closures only affect climbers. The loop trail around Lumpy Ridge, known as the Lumpy Ridge Loop, will continue to be open to hikers during this time period.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pioneers of the Peaks: Local Climbers Who Made History

The year-long celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park's 100th Anniversary continues as we head into March. This month offers several more events for park enthusiasts to celebrate their favorite national park. Of particular interest for hikers and climbers is a program called Pioneers of the Peaks: Local Climbers Who Made History, which will be held on March 30th. The description of this event is as follows:

Training in Rocky Mountain National Park presented by Harry Kent. For several decades, a small group of men and women made history exploring and ascending the summits surrounding the Estes Valley. In 2013 and 2014, the Estes Park Museum and the Estes Valley Library gathered their inspiring stories. This presentation is at 7 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum. It will highlight the training that Harry Kent and his partner Keith Lober did in preparation for their daunting winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1982!

For more information on this event, and all the events during the month of March, please click here.


Snowshoe Tour: RMNP Bear Lake to Emerald Lake

Later this month the Denver area REI's will be hosting a snowshoe tour in Rocky Mountain National Park. Participants will snowshoe to an iconic winter destination located in the heart of the park. This 3.6 mile (round trip) hike ends at Emerald Lake, a high mountain lake surrounded by Hallet Peak, Dragon Tail couloir and Flattop Mountain. REI guides will captivate you with information on the surrounding area's history, as well as nature, all the while taking in the snowy sights of winter at a relaxed pace. Prior snowshoeing experience is recommended (Introduction to Snowshoeing Class or equivalent skills). This is not a skills class and students should be able to snowshoe for 3-4 miles

This 4-hour program will take place from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM on March 15th. A fee is charged to participate.

For more information, please click here.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Special Hikes and Tours in Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is again offering a series of unique ranger-guided educational experiences in 2015. Tickets for these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at

Ranger-guided hikes and programs include a 2-hour hike to Oak Tree House offered weekly during the summer, a 2-hour hike to Square Tower House offered in Spring and Fall, a half-day hike on Wetherill Mesa, Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, and the Photography Tour at Cliff Palace. Check the website for more detailed descriptions of each program.

Oak Tree House 
This 60-room site built on two ledges is one of the largest cliff dwellings in the park. It is a well-preserved but fragile site that features plastered walls and varied architectural styles. The 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike is moderately strenuous. Expect a narrow, unpaved, uneven trail, with steps carved into the sandstone, steep drop-offs, two ladders (4-foot and 15-foot; 1.2m to 4.6m), and a total elevation change of 200 feet (61m). In addition to up-close views of this site, you will have stunning views of Cliff Canyon, Cliff Palace, and Sun Temple. The Oak Tree House hike is available from May 26 to September 5 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Square Tower House
This stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling includes an original kiva roof and the Crow's Nest, both features that cannot be seen from the viewpoint on the canyon rim. The strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 ft. (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, scrambling up and down boulders, and climbing three ladders, the longest of which is 20 feet (6.1m). The Square Tower House hike is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from May 3 – May 24, and on Sundays and Thursdays from September 10 – October 18, 2015. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Wetherill Mesa Hike and Bike Adventure
Hikers and bicyclers: this is the trip for you! This ranger-guided, 4.5 hour trek on the quieter side of Mesa Verde includes about 5 miles of biking, 4 miles of hiking, expansive canyon views, spectacular overlooks of remote cliff dwellings, and a tour of magnificent Long House. A bicycle is required for this, so plan to bring your own bike or you may be able to rent one upon arrival at the Wetherill Mesa parking lot. Call 970-529-4465 to verify this before booking your ticket. With a ranger, you'll bike to several mesa top archeological sites, walk to others, and hike about 3 miles round trip through the pinyon-juniper woodlands for cliff edge views of Nordenskiold #12 and Double House. The tour concludes after the Long House tour, and participants are free to continue exploring Wetherill Mesa or bike back to the parking lot with the ranger. The Adventure is offered Wednesdays and Sundays from Wednesday, May 27 – Sunday, September 6. Tickets cost $18 for adults, or $15 for children up to age 16 or holders of the Interagency Senior, Military, or Access lifetime passes. Group size is limited to 15 people.

Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace
Twilight Tours offer a historical perspective on Cliff Palace and Mesa Verde National Park. Costumed interpreters introduce visitors to famous characters from the past. Twilight Tours are scheduled on Sunday through Thursday evenings from May 24 through September 6. Tickets cost $12 per person and group size is limited to 20 people.

Photography Tour in Cliff Palace
Photographers, here is an opportunity to spend 90 minutes in Cliff Palace with a park ranger in a small group setting. Dramatic sunset lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure. The tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings from May 22 to September 5. Photographers must be able to carry all of their gear while keeping both hands free to climb ladders. Tickets cost $20 per person and group size is limited to 10 people.

For reservations or more information, visit or call 1-877-444-6777.


New Website Launched for Rocky Mountain Travelers

Looking for a resource to help plan your next trip to the Rocky Mountains? Just this past December a brand new website was launched to promote travel resources and vacation spots for those wishing to visit the Rocky Mountains. Called Top Rocky Vacations, the site focuses on ski products and vacations, primarily in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.

Although new, the owners of the site plan to expand, with the goal of eventually becoming the best travel site aimed at promoting the Rocky Mountain region.

The website’s primary focus is on travel, including flights and hotels, but will also provide insights on outdoor adventure activities. Additionally, the owners, Bryan and Britta, are available to personally provide help to travelers as they make plans for their trips.

Please take a moment to check out their website. You just may discover a new destination for your next vacation. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.