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.