Monday, September 26, 2016 Adds Several New Hikes

Earlier this summer Kathy and I had the opportunity to do a little hiking during our visit to Wyoming. In addition to some hiking in Grand Teton National Park, we also did a few hikes atop Teton Pass. Prior to our visit to the Grand Tetons we also did some hiking in the Bighorn Mountains. As a result of this trip we have added seven new hikes to our newest hiking website, Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes from the Teton Pass area:

Mount Glory - is the southern-most peak in the Teton Range, and rises just north of Teton Pass. Without a doubt, it is the toughest one mile I've ever hiked. It's only one mile to the summit, but it's also a whopping 1655 feet of climbing (and suffering) to reach the top. Fortunately you'll be well rewarded with stunning panoramic views at the summit.

Coal Creek Meadows - out of the three trails we hiked near Teton Pass this was by far my favorite. The upper portions of Coal Creek Meadows are very beautiful. Moreover, we continued on for another half-mile beyond the typical stopping point, and made the short climb up to Coal-Mesquite Divide where we enjoyed outstanding views of the southern Teton Range, as well as Grand Teton itself in the far-off distance.

Black Canyon Overlook - this hike also begins from the top of Teton Pass, but travels south from the highway. This trail offers a plethora of wildflowers, as well as great views of Jackson Hole, Black Canyon and the Snake River Range.

All three hikes offer a degree of solitude when the summer crowds invade all of the popular trails in Grand Teton National Park.

As mentioned above, we also had a chance to do a little hiking in the Bighorn Mountains. We were able to add four hikes from this region, including Sherd Lake, Rainy Lake, Otter Lake and the Cloud Peak Wilderness Overlook. All four destinations pass through the Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Bighorn National Forest.

Designated by Congress in 1984, the Cloud Peak Wilderness protects more than 189,000 acres, including the highest peaks in the Bighorn National Forest: 13,167-foot Cloud Peak and 13,005-foot Black Tooth Mountain. The Bighorn National Forest is one of the oldest federally-protected forest lands in the United States. It provides habitat for elk, moose, mule deer, pronghorn, black bear and mountain lion, has over 1500 miles of trails, and protects more than 1.1 million acres.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CDOT: US 34 Outdoor Recreation During Construction Operations

Reconstruction of the U.S. 34 Big Thompson Canyon will require major rock blasting operations this fall and winter. CDOT realizes that this area is very popular for multiple recreational activities, as well as providing a travel corridor to Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding US Forest Service lands, but please remember that although this first phase of work does not include river work, for the next few years this area will be an active construction zone. Because of this, we are asking outdoor enthusiasts to take extra safety precautions. Please be advised that starting in mid-October 2016, the lower canyon stretch of US 34 will be closed to through public travel (mile points 76 - 80). Below we have outlined some safety reminders to help you navigate through construction while still enjoying your normal recreational activities in the canyon.

Prior to rock blasts, a loud horn will sound and it is strongly advised to stay out of this section of the canyon (mile points 76 - 80 - east of Drake).

Round Mountain Nature Trail, located near Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park west of Loveland, has already closed for the remainder of the year to allow for demolition and road construction work by CDOT occurring near the trail. The other trail that leads to the summit of Round Mountain, accessible from the same trailhead, will be closed beginning Oct. 17.

Because of significant road closures in the lower canyon, hikers wishing to access trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, or the surrounding forest lands, should plan on traveling to the Estes Park area via US 36 or Colorado Highway 7 from the Town of Lyons.

Because of road closures, heavy construction and blasting,the lower Big Thompson Canyon from Waltonia downstream should be avoided. Crews will sweep the river for recreationists prior to blasting, however, it is the responsibility of the user to stay out of the work areas.

Deer and Elk Hunters
Due to heavy blasting in the lower canyon, please refrain from hunting in portions of the Big Thompson US Highway 34 between Larimer County Road 29 (Carter Lake Road) and Larimer County Road 43 (the North Fork Road) in Game Management Unit 20. Road closures in this area will preclude public access including the Round Mountain Trailhead, making it difficult to travel in this area.

If you are hunting in this area, please make sure to sign up for project updates ( so that you know when the rock blasts will occur and listen for the loud horn. Hunters are strongly advised to avoid the area.

Travel restrictions and blasting near the stream sections of the Big Thompson Canyon at and below Drake, Colorado will make fishing in the lower canyon difficult and, and potentially unproductive due to all of the surrounding construction activity, therefore fishing between Larimer County Road 29 and the Waltonia bridge is being discouraged. Work within the river is not included in the first phase of work and fish will not be disturbed, however heavy traffic and blasting within the canyon does not create the serene mountain fishing experience that other areas may offer.

The upper Big Thompson River from Waltonia upstream to the Olympus Dam is largely intact and the fishing is equal to pre-flood conditions. We strongly suggest that anglers wanting to fish the Big Thompson do so in the upper section. Because of road closures in the lower canyon, access to the upper river is best from Estes Park downstream.

Because of the different construction areas and canyon closures, access to off-roading areas is not advised via the lower Big Thompson Canyon during construction. Multiple blasts a day are possible, and vehicles within the work area are at risk for rock damage. Access to the Storm Mountain area is available by Larimer County Road 43 from Estes Park.

Please be advised construction activities will be ongoing in the canyon over the next several years, with intense blasting operations happening October through May. It is strongly advised that recreational users avoid this area (mile points 76 - 80) and listen for the loud horn that will sound prior to blasts.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Lend a Hand on National Public Lands Day

On September 24th is your chance to be a part of the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Throughout the country about 200,000 people will participate in 2,500 National Public Lands Day events. As part of the celebration, national parks will waive entrance fees and host projects and programs that promote environmental stewardship.

"Whether a neighborhood park or a national park, public lands belong to all of us," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "They might vary in shape and size but they all exist for all of us. Join us on National Public Lands Day and help ensure that these special places can continue to be used for recreation and inspiration."

All 413 National Park Service sites will have free entrance on National Public Lands Day. Those who volunteer for a service project will receive a voucher that permits them into a national park for free on a different day.

Dozens of National Park Service sites will host events. Take part in spring cleaning in Yosemite National Park, repair a horse trail in Catoctin Mountain Park, preserve earthworks at Richmond National Battlefield Park, or restore the tall grass prairie at Pipestone National Monument.

Click here for some of the National Park Service sites hosting National Public Lands Day events later this month.