Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brand New CMC Book: Colorado 14er Disasters

The Colorado Mountain Club has recently published a new book detailing some of the climbing disasters that have taken place along some of the 14K foot peaks in Colorado. The following is a summary review from the Amazon page (I must confess that I haven't read this yet, but it's at the top of my Christmas wish list!):

"The drive to summit all of the 14,000-foot peaks in the state of Colorado rages on like a growing wildfire. Summiting a Colorado 14er is an incredibly popular activity, but the ominous potential of a mountaineering accident casts its dark shadow on what is otherwise a positive experience for hikers and mountaineers. This book explores the disturbingly easy ways that hikers become stranded, severely injured, or killed on the 14ers. When those accidents happen, the victim is far from help and in an environment where rescue is difficult at best. Colorado 14er Disasters, 2nd Edition is an unflinching exploration of these hair-raising events and rescue attempts, and describes mountaineering accidents as no book has ever done previously. This in turn gives any mountaineer helpful information for avoiding such disasters."

The new book is available at


Monday, November 21, 2016

Colorado State Parks are Free on Black Friday for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s #FreshAirFriday

Entry to all 42 Colorado state parks is free on Nov. 25 for a new Colorado Parks and Wildlife tradition called #FreshAirFriday. Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers this opportunity to those who have signed the pledge to head outside on the day after Thanksgiving. More than 50 retailers in Colorado and nationwide are closing their doors on Black Friday and multiple states are urging people to go outside instead of joining the rush inside to shop this year.

“It is a long-time Colorado tradition to get outside,” said CPW Director Bob Broscheid. “This Black Friday we invite you to start a new family tradition of enjoying the Colorado state parks together for free if you aren’t shopping.”

Great Outdoors Colorado is covering all costs for access to the state parks on Friday.

“On behalf of the GOCO board, I’m pleased to announce GOCO will fund CPW’s #FreshAirFriday for a second year. We happily join our partners at CPW, and many other forward-thinking organizations, in this movement to change how we all spend our time on Black Friday,” said Jason Brinkley, chairman of the GOCO board of trustees. “We hope droves of Colorado kids and their families take advantage of this opportunity to make visiting our incredible state parks part of their holiday traditions. We’ll see you out there!”

CPW offers family-friendly activities, fun-filled adventures and opportunities to learn and try new things at state parks. ​​Check out the Park Finder ​​map or the events calendar on the CPW website. Plus, ideas for ice fishing, skiing and snowshoeing, sledding and skating, snowmobiling, hiking, lodging and wildlife viewing can all be found on CPW’s winter activities ​page. Please note that activity fees may apply.

Learn more about #FreshAirFriday and watch the video here.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Trail Ridge Road Closed To Through Travel For The Season

Today, Friday, November 18, 2016, 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 superintendent Darla Sidles, “The mild weather this fall has given us a rare opportunity to enjoy Trail Ridge Road this late in the season. During this most recent storm we have received an accumulation of snow accompanied by high winds and freezing temperatures. Driving conditions are extremely hazardous at higher elevations. With the extended forecast of winds and below freezing temperatures, snow clearing operations become futile above 10,000 feet. 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 latest Trail Ridge Road has closed was on December 2, 1933. 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: October 29, 2015, 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. The central portion of Trail Ridge Road normally opens the last week in May, weather permitting. This year Trail Ridge Road opened on May 28.

Old Fall River Road closed for the season on October 3. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road will remain open to bicycles and leashed pets until December 1, 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. On December 1, 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 visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Funding the Future of Colorado’s State Parks​​​​

With more people visiting and moving to the state each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has seen a significant increase in visitation to all 42 state parks, a trend expected to continue into the future. To provide the public with information about the challenges and discuss options for addressing them, CPW will hold a public meeting at The Lake House at Cherry Creek State Park, Monday, Nov. 28, 6 to 8 p.m.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife relies on park entrance fees, camping fees, lottery and GOCO to support 42 state parks. Over 12 million people visit the parks each year, contributing $1 billion to Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy.

"Because our parks are an important part of the state's economy and we anticipate a significant increase in visitation coming in the years to come, we need to begin a discussion now," said Northeast Deputy Regional Manager Windi Padia. "We have an excellent product to offer and we welcome more visitation, but with more people enjoying our parks comes additional strain to this resource. We invite the public to provide input and help us find effective solutions."

Among the needs CPW says will become necessary to meet public demands include: road improvements, infrastructure, additional facilities and possibly more staffing.

"When you consider the demands of a modern camper, including heating, cooling and electronics, it places a significant demand on our aging infrastructure systems," adds Padia. "We've seen utility bills go up 70 percent in the last 10 years at some parks. We all need to be ready for a busy future at our state parks."

Who: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

What: Public discussion about the challenges of increasing park visitation

When: Monday, Nov. 28, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: The Lake House at Cherry Creek State Park, 4800 S. Dayton St., Englewood


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

National Park Service Announces 10 Fee Free Days for 2017

Combine great scenery and history with great savings and visit a national park for free on one of 10 fee free days in 2017. The ten entrance fee-free days for 2017 will be:

• January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
• February 20: Presidents Day
• April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
• August 25: National Park Service Birthday
• September 30: National Public Lands Day
• November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“National parks are known for their priceless beauty,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are a bargain anytime but on these ten days in 2017, they really will be priceless. We want everyone to visit their national parks and the fee free days provide extra incentive to experience these amazing places.”

During the fee free days, all National Park Service sites will waive their entrance fees for all visitors. Usually, 124 of the 413 national parks charge entrance fees that range from $3 to $30. The other 289 sites do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

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

The National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 413 sites including national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park in every state.

Last year, 307 million people visited a national park. They spent $16.9 billion which supported 295,000 jobs and had a $32 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

In addition to national parks, the National Park Service works with tribes, local governments, and partners across the country to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Programs such as the National Register of Historic Places, National Heritage Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance Program revitalize communities, celebrate local heritage, and provide places for people to get outside, be active, and have fun.

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.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Colorado National Monument To Increase Fees

Colorado National Monument has received approval to implement proposed entrance fee increases beginning January 1, 2017. In order to lessen the impact of the fee increases, the park has chosen to phase some of the changes in over two years.

The monument received 62 responses during the open comment period for the proposed fee increases; slightly more than half were in favor of the changes. While supportive, many respondents were disappointed that proposed increases doubled and in one case tripled the fees. This led local management to a phased approach to the increases.

“We were encouraged by the thoughtful and well considered responses to the proposals,” said Superintendent Ken Mabery. “It is important that we balance the need for additional funding to support park visitors while ensuring that our site remains affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Federal law requires that recreational fees charged on public lands be used for direct visitor benefits. In recent years, projects funded by recreational fees have included paving Rim Rock Drive through the tunnels on the west hill, accessibility of the Alcove Nature Trail, and a new vault toilet facility at Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead. Current projects include trail work on Old Gordon Trail and a resource survey of the White Rocks Area.

The park plans to use the additional revenue from increased fees for upgrading campground restrooms, rehabilitating Liberty Cap Trail and replacing the outdated Visitor Center film as well as a number of smaller projects.

Entrances fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or to holders of Access, Military and 4th Grade passes. Prices for the Interagency Annual ($80) and Senior ($10) Passes will not change and those passes will still be available for purchase at the park. Camping fees were not changed and remain $20 per night. Commercial fees are set at a national level and were not changed. It is expected that the National Park Service will continue to offer fee free days periodically during 2017.

The following outlines the approved fee schedule for Colorado National Monument:

Current Fees / 2017 Fees / 2019 Fees

Private Vehicle: $10.00 / $15.00 / $20.00

Annual Park Pass: $25.00 / $40.00 / $40.00


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NPS Commemorates Veterans Day with Free Admission on November 11th

In honor of Veterans Day, many national parks across the country are hosting special events, displays, and ceremonies to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces. The National Park Service will waive entrance fees on November 11th.

“It’s a special responsibility to be the stewards of the memorials, battlefields, and historic sites that tell the story of the honor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “All 413 of our parks nationwide offer the chance to reflect on what our veterans fought to protect, and may also provide opportunities for veterans and their families to find peace and healing.”

National parks and other public lands can be used to facilitate healing and reflection, physical and mental challenges, and rest and recuperation for veterans, active duty service members, and their families. Rivers of Recovery, one of the nonprofit organizations that uses national parks for this purpose, partnered with Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway to create the “Vets on the River” program, which offers multi-day trips on the park’s rivers to combat veterans suffering from physical or psychological injuries.

“Vets on the River is an amazing program that provides a great opportunity for veterans suffering from PTSD, an opportunity to gain another support group,” said Rob Boss, a participant who shared his experience in a video. “Just being with nature and being outdoors, being on the relaxing river, it allows us to open up with each other, which we so need.”

The National Park Service cares for many sites across the country related to the military experience, including more than 25 battlefields, 14 national cemeteries, and hundreds of memorials and monuments. Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and other historic sites tell greater story of contributions, sacrifice, and consequences of conflict off the battlefield.

Active duty military members and their dependents can pick up a free military annual pass at any national park that usually charges a fee. A free lifetime pass is also available to disabled veterans. These passes provide free entrance to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other federal recreational areas. More information about the passes can be found at


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Public Input Requested On Alternatives For Exotic Plant Management In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is considering alternatives for the management of invasive exotic plants in the park. Invasive exotic plants are capable of spreading rapidly, outcompeting native plants, and drastically altering ecosystem conditions and processes, even in pristine wilderness areas. The number of invasive exotic plant species in the park is growing, as are their distribution and acreage. This is occurring despite efforts of the park to control these occurrences.

The park is currently managing exotic invasive plant infestations in accordance with the 2003 Invasive Exotic Plant Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. While the 2003 plan provides a mechanism for addressing some exotic invasive plant infestations within the park, it does not allow managers the flexibility to deal with new species infestations, prevents the eradication of some treated species, and does not contain a structured framework to incorporate new science and information into the decision-making and management process.

The park proposes a framework to manage exotic plant species in the park to protect and restore native species, ecosystems, cultural resources, and the visitor experience.

The park is considering several options for managing invasive exotic plants:

Proposed Action – Adaptive Integrated Pest Management

The proposed action is the initial National Park Service proposal to address the purpose and need for taking action.

The park would develop a decision-making framework, which would incorporate the best available science, expert knowledge, site assessments, and monitoring, to determine the extent of exotic species infestations, determine if management is necessary, prioritize management, and determine the most effective management methods.

No Action

The no action alternative is to continue with current management of exotic plant species in the park.

Invasive exotic plants would continue to be managed using the provisions of the 2003 plan. No additional species would be managed, even if they are, or become, a threat to park resources.

Additional Options Considered

Modifying the 2003 plan was considered, but the park is not likely to move forward with this option because it would not allow the park to address exotic plant infestations as effectively as the proposed action.

An environmental assessment will be prepared to provide a decision-making framework that analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, evaluates issues and impacts on park resources and values, and identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.

Park staff encourage public participation throughout the planning process. There will be two opportunities to comment formally on the project – one during initial project scoping and again following release of the environmental assessment. The park will host three public meetings regarding the proposed project, as follows:

Monday, November 7
Grand Lake Fire Protection District Building
201 W. Portal Road
Grand Lake, CO
5:30-7:00 PM

Monday, November 14
Estes Park Town Hall Board Room
170 MacGregor Avenue
Estes Park, CO
5:30-7:00 PM

Thursday, November 17
Boulder Public Library (Boulder Room)
1001 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, CO
5:30-7:00 PM

There will be a short presentation at 5:45 p.m., and park staff will be available to answer questions until 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to visit the locations listed above at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide written comments.

Comments received during the scoping period will be used to help define the issues and concerns to be addressed in the environmental assessment, while also assisting with analyzing the different alternatives.

Comments must be received in writing by close of business on December 1, 2016. Comments can be submitted at the public open house described above or online by visiting:; look for “Exotic Plant Management Plan EA.”

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

If you have questions about the project or would like more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.