Friday, May 19, 2017

Roads Reopening On The East Side Of Rocky Mountain National Park - Some Roads Remain Closed

Park snowplow operators have been working through the day to plow roads and numerous parking lots. Park rangers have also accounted for all wilderness camping permit holders who were camping overnight in the park’s backcountry.

Numerous roads are reopening on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road has reopened to Many Parks Curve. Access to the park from the Fall River Entrance and the Beaver Meadows Entrance has reopened. Bear Lake Road has reopened to Sprague Lake. The upper portion of Bear Lake Road above Sprague Lake, as well as the Bear Lake parking lot, are expected to reopen sometime tomorrow.

Roads still closed include the Endovalley Road from the US 34 junction, Moraine Park Road from the Bear Lake Road junction to the Fern Lake Trailhead, Wild Basin Road at the Sandbeach Trailhead, and Upper Beaver Meadows Road. Numerous parking lots have not been plowed and are inaccessible.

Trail Ridge Road on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is open to the Colorado River Trailhead.

More snow is forecast for this evening in Rocky Mountain National Park; park visitors should prepare for winter driving conditions.

More than 3 feet of snow has fallen in the past 24 hours resulting in VERY DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS in Rocky Mountain National Park. Currently travel in avalanche terrain is NOT recommended. Visitors planning to hike, snowshoe or ski in the mountains this weekend should carry avalanche safety gear and have associated avalanche safety training and experience.

Park visitors should use additional caution when driving on roads as wildlife are now using cleared roads as easier travel routes. As always, please stay back and give wildlife the space they need, especially during this more stressful time as they travel through heavy, wet snow.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.



Jeff
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don’t Rush to Rescue Young Wildlife

Spring has come to Colorado bringing blooms and rain showers, and of course the young wildlife of the year. As birds and mammals give birth, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind citizens that newborn wildlife may be found in backyards , along trails, or in open spaces. The best course of action is to leave them alone.

Each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives scores of calls from concerned humans about wildlife that has been "abandoned" by adult animals. Many are tempted to "help" a young animal by picking it up or trying to feed it, however it is critical that people understand there is no substitute for their natural parents.

Wildlife experts agree that it is quite normal for adult animals to leave their young in a safe place while they go forage for food. And often baby birds are learning to fly, near their nests when they are deemed "abandoned." While well-meaning people sometimes gather up this baby wildlife and bring them to wildlife rehabilitation facilities, it is often the wrong thing to do.

"Baby mammals are scentless in order to prevent predators from finding them," said Janet George, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW. "When humans touch these animals, they are imparting them with a scent their adults will not recognize or even fear. This can result in true abandonment of healthy offspring."

Because birds do not have a highly developed sense of smell, baby birds are a different story. They can be picked up and moved out of harm's way or placed back in the nest if they are songbirds. However, do not try this with raptors! Great-horned owls and other raptors are territorial and have been known to fly at humans seen as a threat to their young.

If you find young wildlife, enjoy a quick glimpse, leave the animal where it is, and keep pets out of the area. Quietly observe the animal from a distance using binoculars and don't hover so close that the wild parents are afraid to return to the area.

"If twenty four hours go by and the parent does not return, or the young animal appears sick and weak, it is possible the newborn was abandoned or the parent is dead (hit by a car, for example)," said Jenny Campbell, customer service expert with CPW. "Call our office and we will work with our volunteer transport teams to get animals to a certified wildlife rehabilitation center to get aid for the wildlife if possible. Don't move the animal yourself!"

Donna Ralph of the non-profit Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center agrees. "Many of the animals we get should have never been picked up in the first place," said Ralph. "They would have had a better chance for survival if left in the care of the parent animal."

"The sooner the animal can be released back to where it came from the better," she explained. "Make sure you provide your contact information so we can let it go in the same place you found it."

Ralph said her center has already taken in many small mammals this year including several fox kits. "Baby foxes don't look like most people would expect them to look like. They are very small, very dark (almost black) and appear to be very kitten like. People who find them think they might be baby raccoons, skunks, or something else."

Ralph's advice: Don't try to feed them. Don't put anything into their mouths. Contact the CPW, a veterinarian, or licensed wildlife rehabilitator to give these babies the care they need.

"Whatever you do, don't try to keep the animal as a pet," she said. "It is illegal to keep wild animals in captivity unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator."

In addition to potential harm for wildlife, humans need to recognize the potential harm to them, as well. There can be risks associated with the handling of wildlife animals, including disease transmission of rabies, distemper or other illnesses. Wildlife can also carry fleas that might subsequently spread disease to humans or pets.

Finally, it is imperative for Coloradans to understand that it is illegal to own most wildlife in Colorado. People can avoid a great deal of heartache if they don't "adopt" the cute baby raccoon or skunk. Sadly, human-raised and hand-fed animals are rarely returned to the wild due to their lack of survival skills or imprint on humans. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are trained to use methods that will give a wild animal the best chance of surviving upon release.



Jeff
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Repairs to Aspen Brook and Twin Sisters Trails In Rocky Mountain National Park

The Director of the Intermountain Region, National Park Service (NPS), recently signed a decision document that will enable Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to conduct reroutes and repairs to the Aspen Brook and Twin Sisters trails that were damaged in the September 2013 flood.

Following the September 2013 flood, park staff prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate alternatives and the potential impacts associated with reestablishing five trails that were badly damaged during the flood: Twin Sisters, Aspen Brook, Alluvial Fan, Ypsilon Lake, and Lawn Lake. The purpose of the EA was to identify potential travel routes while protecting natural and cultural resources and preserving wilderness character. A decision to reroute and repair the Lawn Lake, Ypsilon Lake, and Alluvial Fan trails was previously made and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) was signed for those three trails in June of 2016. Park staff deferred the decision on the reroutes and repairs to the Aspen Brook and Twin Sisters trails until 2017. A description of the selected action for the Aspen Brook and Twin Sisters trails follows.

Aspen Brook Trail - The trail will be rerouted and repaired. Abandoned sections of the existing trail (about 3,360 feet) will be stabilized and revegetated. This work is expected to take a number of years to complete. During the trail construction, some areas may be temporarily closed to hikers. This trail will remain closed to equestrian use for the duration of the project. A new trail extension to provide a connection to Spur Highway 66 outside the park is a second element of this decision and has additional requirements.

Twin Sisters Trail - The informal foot trails that have developed across the landslide (see photo) and south of the landslide will be retained and maintained to the extent practical. The informal foot trails will be incorporated into the regular trail maintenance program, and repairs and erosion-control measures to mitigate impacts will be implemented. Existing trail segments or informal routes that are redundant or obsolete will be stabilized and revegetated. The steep trail grade, limited width, and limited clearing limits of the informal foot trail on the south side of the landslide does not accommodate equestrian use; therefore, only pedestrian use will be allowed on the Twin Sisters Trail.

Once these Twin Sisters Trail repairs and erosion control measures are completed, the park will monitor trail conditions over time to determine if repairs are adequate and sustainable. If repairs are not sustainable, the park may seek funding to construct a trail reroute.



Jeff
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Monday, May 8, 2017

Backpacker Rescued From East Inlet Trail Area

At 8:30 p.m. Friday night, May 5th, park rangers were contacted via cell phone about an incident on the East Inlet Trail on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. A 19-year-old man from Tennessee and two friends were backpacking in the area. They were roughly 3.5 miles from the trailhead, scrambling over steep terrain, boulders and downed trees when a large boulder fell on the man’s leg. The man’s friends were able to free him from under the rock.

Search and Rescue Team members reached the man at approximately 11:30 p.m. A number of agencies assisted Rocky Mountain National Park on this incident including Grand County EMS, Grand Lake Fire Protection District, Grand County Sheriff’s Office and Grand County Search and Rescue. The man was located in steep terrain, cliffed out on one side and steep scree on the other. Due to the terrain and darkness, the team of fifteen members stayed put through the night and provided advanced medical care to the injured man.

Because of the nature of the man’s leg injury and the location, park rangers requested assistance from the Colorado High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Program to assist in evacuating the man via a hoist operation, using a winch operated cable. This occurred at 8:15 a.m. this morning. The man was flown to Harbison Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park where he was transported by ground ambulance to Middle Park Medical Center. Rescue team members are hiking out to the trailhead.



Jeff
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Friday, April 28, 2017

Recent Search And Rescue Incident Reminder Of Wintry Conditions At Rocky Mountain National Park

At 10:30 p.m. on Monday night, April 24, a man called for assistance near Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park via a very poor cell phone connection. He and his brother had become lost due to snow packed trails and darkness. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members reached the pair at 1:00 a.m. It was snowing, the men were cold and wet and were unprepared to spend the night. This incident could have ended differently, if the two out of state visitors had not been fortunate to have cell phone coverage and a charged battery.

This incident serves as an important reminder that although it may be spring in other parts of the country and at lower elevations in Colorado, above 9,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park there is still considerable snow on trails and cold temperatures. Lakes are beginning to thaw and visitors may encounter weakened snow bridges over streams and bridges. The upcoming forecast calls for snow and freezing temperatures.

Carry the essentials when recreating in the wilderness in Rocky Mountain National Park no matter what season. These essentials include layers of clothing including storm gear, hat, gloves, lots of water and high-energy food, sturdy footwear and extra socks, topographic map and compass/GPS, flashlight or headlamp, waterproof matches, pocket knife, whistle, sunglasses with UV protection and sunscreen. Tell a friend where you are going and when you expect to be back. Cell phone coverage in Rocky Mountain National Park is limited and often batteries die in cold temperatures.

The park also reminds visitors to research trail conditions and the current weather forecast before you go into the backcountry.



Jeff
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Moraine Park Campground Closing For Most Of May For Water System Repairs -- Aspenglen Campground To Open Early

Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park will be closed at noon on Tuesday, May 2, and will reopen by Thursday, May 25, for a major water line system improvement project. Aspenglen Campground, which normally opens in late May, will open early, beginning May 1, to provide camping opportunities on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The water line project is part of a larger phased project to improve and rehabilitate park potable water supply and distribution systems that were installed more than fifty years ago. The first segment of buried pipe to be replaced during this phase is the section within the campground. The improvements will cover the water system from the Moraine Park Campground to the intersection of Bear Lake and Moraine Park Roads, where last year's water line project ended. This overall project will include replacing thousands of feet of pipe, rehabilitating valves, improving its condition to greatly enhance its service life, insure greater reliability, reduce water loss, enhance fire protection and reduce operational maintenance costs.

Park visitors may experience minor traffic delays from May through October on the Moraine Park Road between the intersection with Bear Lake Road and Moraine Park Campground entrance area, as well as the intersection with Fern Lake Road. Work will take place Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Traffic delays should be less than fifteen minutes.



Jeff
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Volunteers Needed for Forest Visitor Center in Fort Collins

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking volunteers who are interested in natural resources and recreation to provide information to visitors at the Canyon Lakes Ranger District Office in Fort Collins.

Volunteers will answer phones and talk with people who visit the office interested in camping, hiking, hunting, four-wheel driving, ATVing, rafting and more. Volunteers will learn from seasoned employees and other volunteers who are dedicated to “caring for the land and serving people” throughout the Roosevelt National Forest.

The office needs volunteers to serve four to eight hours a week. If you would like more information or you would like to sign up, please contact Mary Bollinger at mcbollinger@fs.fed.us or call 970-295-6702.

Volunteers provide a great service to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District and these positions help enhance the overall visitor experience, while also helping instill appreciation for our wonderful public lands.



Jeff
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

First Day of Summer in Grand Teton National Park

I realize that we're still a few weeks away from the first day of summer. I'm just reusing the title that Finley Holiday Films used for their outstanding short film highlighting Grand Teton National Park. This excellent short video shows what this beautiful park looks like in June as the snow melts, and the wildflowers and wildlife begin to emerge from a long winter:



With more than 240 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Grand Teton National Park. Fortunately the park offers a wide variety of outstanding day hikes. If you do plan to visit Grand Teton this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Colorado National Monument Annouces Repairs to Rim Rock Drive

Colorado National Monument is partnering with the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration to repair a section of Rim Rock Drive south of the Grand View Overlook. The project was awarded to GCS, LLC, a local Grand Junction company. The work includes repairs and stabilization to a bedrock culvert and the rock face below the roadway. Work will start at some point after April 3 and is expected to take about a month.

To create a safe and effective working environment for the employees, one lane of Rim Rock Drive will be closed Monday through Friday from 7am – 6pm during construction. Travelers can expect up to a 15 minute delay as flaggers move traffic through the area.

Grand View Overlook will be used to stage construction equipment and therefore closed to the public.

Spring hours are now in effect at Colorado National Monument. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

For additional information please visit www.nps.gov/colm or call 970-858-3617, ext. 360. If you're looking for a great hike while in the area, check out the Monument Canyon Trail.



Jeff
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Registration now open for Magnolia Trails Project implementation meeting

The first implementation meeting for the U.S. Forest Service’s Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project will take place from 1-4 p.m. Friday, April 21. The public is welcome to attend. This interactive meeting will focus on:

* Beginning the teambuilding process;
* Setting goals and priorities for the first year of implementation; and,
* Developing smaller working groups.

The December 2016 Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project Decision authorized a 44-mile, non-motorized trail system across about 6,000 acres branching out from the Peak to Peak Highway in areas known as East Magnolia and West Magnolia. The decision includes a variety of components, including building new trails, decommissioning user-created trails, rerouting trails, creating better regional trail connectivity, and improving trailheads and signage.

The decision also includes a collaborative approach to implementation. Input from user groups, landowners and other agencies will play a role in trail layout, design and construction, as well as monitoring and education. At the first meeting, attendees will have a chance to meet each other, discuss their interests and priorities, and sign up for the working groups to continue engaging in this collaborative effort.

“This meeting is an opportunity for people who want to roll up their sleeves and participate in this project to connect with each other and with us,” said Boulder Ranger District recreation program manager Matt Henry. “After years of planning, we’ve finally gotten to the fun part. There are a lot of great ideas and energy in the community, and we are looking forward to working with a wide variety of people who want to connect with the landscape through interests in trail design, monitoring wildlife, educating the public, or just putting a shovel in the dirt.”

The District is requesting that attendees register by March 31 so that it can book an appropriately sized room for the meeting. Registrants will be sent informational material and a questionnaire to be completed prior to the meeting.

Meeting attendees are asked to educate themselves about the project prior to the meeting by reading the Record of Decision on the project webpage www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/MagnoliaTrails. Regular project updates, photos and volunteer opportunities also will be posted to this webpage for those who are interested in staying informed on the project but don’t want to attend regular meetings.

In order to register, please email matthewhenry@fs.fed.us. Please include your full name and put Magnolia Trails RSVP in the subject line.



Jeff
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rocky Mountain Region invites public to help identify priority trail maintenance work

The Rocky Mountain Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.

Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance contributes to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.

The Rocky Mountain Region manages more than 19,500 miles of trails enjoyed by millions of users each year. In the Rocky Mountain Region, nearly 13,000 volunteers and partner groups contributed roughly 385,000 hours in maintenance and repair National Forest System trails last year.

“Connecting and working with forest visitors, volunteers and partners is an integral part of forest and grassland stewardship,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Brian Ferebee. “Public feedback will determine where volunteers, partners and other innovative programs could be used to accomplish focused trail work, increase trail access, and provide a safer and enjoyable trails experience.”

The Rocky Mountain Region has until April 15 to submit at least three regional proposals to National Headquarters. Those proposals will be weighed against proposal submitted by other Forest Service regions.

The trail maintenance effort is outlined in the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016 and aims to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100% by the end of 2021.

The selected sites will be part of the initial focus that will include a mosaic of areas with known trail maintenance needs that include areas near urban and remote areas, such as wilderness, are of varying sizes and trail lengths, are motorized and non-motorized, and those that incorporate a varied combination of partner and volunteer approaches and solutions.

The Forest Service manages more than 158,000 miles of trail – the largest trail system in the nation – providing motorized and non-motorized trail access across 154 national forests and grasslands. These Forest Service trails are well-loved and highly used with more than 84 million trail visits annually, helping to support mostly rural economies.

The Forest Service receives widespread support from tens of thousands of volunteers and partners each year who, in 2015, contributed nearly 1.4 million hours – a value of about $31.6 million – in maintenance and repair of nearly 30,000 miles of trails.

However, limited funding compounded by the rising cost of wildfire operations, has resulted in less than 25 percent of Forest Service trails meeting all of the agency’s standards for safety, quality recreation and economic and environmental sustainability. The remaining trails meet standard to varying degrees.

To provide ideas and suggestions on potential priority areas and approaches for incorporating increased trail maintenance assistance from partners and volunteers, please visit http://tinyurl.com/mjhw3c6, or contact your local Forest Service office, or Regional Trail Program Manager Scott Haas by April 7, 2017.



Jeff
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Missing Man’s Body Discovered In Longs Peak Area

Early yesterday morning, a search began for a 39-year-old man from Thornton, Colorado in the Longs Peak area. His body was discovered by Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members at noon, half way up The Loft.

The man was last seen at the top of The Loft at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 18th. He was winter mountaineering with two acquaintances when he reportedly decided to descend to return to the Longs Peak Trailhead. The three men had left the Longs Peak Trailhead Saturday at 2:30 a.m. with the intent to summit Longs Peak.

When the other two men arrived back at the Longs Peak Trailhead later in the day, the third man’s vehicle was still in the parking area. They contacted park rangers at 6:15 p.m. to report the third member of their party was overdue.

As is standard for all fatalities that occur in Rocky Mountain National Park, an investigation is ongoing. The man’s body was recovered by a long line helicopter operation at 6:30 p.m. and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office. His name will be released when next of kin are notified.

Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue team members will reach the Longs Peak Trailhead later tonight.



Jeff
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Portions of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests join local counties in fire restrictions

Due to a forecast of continuing dry and warm conditions, and in support of fire restrictions currently enacted in Clear Creek, Gilpin, Jefferson and Boulder counties, the Boulder and Clear Creek ranger districts of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests are enacting Stage 1 fire restrictions effective today. The Stage 1 fire restrictions limit where and what type of fires visitors can have and are in place until rescinded.

Within the fire restriction area, forest visitors cannot:

* Build or maintain a fire or use charcoal, coal, or wood stoves, except within a developed recreation site (e.g., campgrounds where fees are charged).

* Smoke, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter cleared of all flammable materials.

* Operate a chainsaw without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and in effective working order, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher kept with the operator, and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.

* Weld or operate acetylene or other torch with open flame except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher.

* Use explosives, including fireworks.

* Discharge a firearm EXCEPT a person possessing a valid Colorado hunting license lawfully involved in hunting and harvesting game.

Violation of Stage 1 fire restrictions could result in a maximum fine of $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for more than six months, or both. If responsible for causing a wildfire, one could be held accountable for suppression costs of that fire.

To view the fire restriction orders and maps, go to www.fs.usda.gov/arp. They will be listed in the “Alerts and Notices” box on the right.

Fire Managers will continue to monitor conditions on the Forests and Grassland and the need for further fire restrictions.

Please note that many counties are also under fire restrictions; information is available at www.coemergency.com/p/fire-bans-danger.html.



Jeff
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Avalanche Beacon Training Park At Rocky Mountain National Park

A new avalanche beacon training park is located at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. This avalanche beacon park opened in January, and is designed for backcountry enthusiasts to practice simulated avalanche searches using their own beacons/transceivers and probes. The wireless beacon training park has eight transmitters/targets and can be setup for single or multiple scenarios.

The beacon park is intended to be available for use through the winter months. It is a self-serve system, with directions for different scenarios located at the main control station. Users are back country enthusiasts who are familiar with avalanche rescue gear and techniques and the use of an avalanche beacon and probe.

In order to use the training park, visitors will need to bring their own avalanche beacon and probe. A shovel is recommended for winter backcountry travel but is not needed in the training park.



Jeff
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Record Visitation to America’s National Parks in 2016

The U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently hailed 331 million recreation visits to America’s national parks in 2016 – a third consecutive all-time attendance record for the National Park Service. Zinke made the announcement during a stop at Glacier National Park where he met with Park Superintendent Jeff Mow to discuss the park’s maintenance backlog and received a traditional spiritual blessing from members of the Blackfeet Nation. In 2016, Glacier broke attendance records attracting nearly three million visitors.

“Our National Parks are our national treasures, and it’s important to recognize that they are more than just beautiful landscapes,” said Zinke. “Growing up near Glacier National Park, I understand the value these places bring to local economies and in preserving our heritage. As we enter into a second century of service and visitation numbers continue to increase, we will focus on maintenance backlogs and ensuring these special places are preserved for future generations.”

Half of all national park visitation was recorded in 26 parks, but visitation grew more than 10 percent in parks that see more modest annual visitation. Mike Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service pointed out, “That shows the breadth of support for parks and, I think, that the Find Your Park campaign launched with the National Park Foundation reached new audiences.” The National Park Services’ centennial and Find Your Park initiative combined with other popular events, such as the Centennial BioBlitz and other national park anniversaries, good travel weather and programs such as “Every Kid in a Park” helped drive record visitation.

National Park System 2016 visitation highlights include:

• 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016 – up 7.7 percent or 23.7 million visits over 2015.
• 1.4 billion hours spent by visitors in parks – up 7 percent or 93 million hours over 2015.
• 15,430,454Overnight stays in parks – up 2.5% over 2015.
• 2,543,221 National Park campground RV overnights – up 12.5 percent over 2015.
• 2,154,698 Backcountry overnights – up 6.7 percent over 2015.
• 3,858,162 National park campground tent overnights – up 4.8 percent over 2015.
• 10 million recreation visits at four parks – Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
• More than 5 million recreation visits at 12 parks (3% of reporting parks)
• 80 parks had more than 1 million recreation visits (21% of reporting parks)
• 382 of the 417 parks in the National Park system count visitors and 77 of those parks set a new record for annual recreation visits. This is about 20% of reporting parks.
• 4 parks were added to the statistics system and reported visitation for the first time. They added about 300,000 visits to the total: Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C., Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet Township, Mich., Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, N.J.

While at Glacier, Zinke was joined by members of the Blackfeet Nation including Chairman Harry Barnes, Secretary Tyson Running Wolf, Timothy Davis, Carl Kipp, Nelse St. Goddard, and Robert DesRosier, who performed a traditional spiritual blessing.

“I’ve had the honor of working with the Blackfeet Nation for a number of years as a State Senator, Congressman, and now as Secretary of the Interior,” said Zinke. “The ceremony was very moving. I appreciate the blessing and know it will provide me with guidance and strength as I face the challenges ahead.”

Here are some additional highlights:


The Top 10 Visitation in National Parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,312,786
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. – 5,969,811
Yosemite National Park, Calif. – 5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo. – 4,517,585
Zion National Park, Utah – 4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. – 4,257,177
Olympic National Park, , Wash. – 3,390,221
Acadia National Park, Maine – 3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. – 3,270,076
Glacier National Park, Mont. – 2,946,681


Top 10 Visitation - All Units in the National Park System:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, Calif. – 15,638,777
Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, N.C. – 15,175,578
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tenn. – 11,312,786
George Washington Memorial Parkway, McLean, Va. – 10,323,339
Gateway National Recreation Area, Staten Island, N.Y. – 8,651,770
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. – 7,915,934
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City, Nev. – 7,175,891
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. – 5,969,811
Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, Miss. – 5,891,315
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. – 5,299,713

For an in depth look at 2016 visitation figures please visit the NPS Social Science website.



Jeff
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter in Rocky Mountain National Park

Winter is an absolutely wonderful time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. The park, as well as the area surrounding it, offers many outstanding outdoor opportunities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, downhill skiing, wildlife watching, dog sled rides, fat biking, ice fishing and even hiking. Even if you don’t own your own equipment there are many outfitters in Estes Park and Grand Lake that will rent everything you’ll need to enjoy your adventures.

Winter in the Rockies can typically last from November through April. The lower elevations along the eastern slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are usually free of deep snow. However, at higher elevations, arctic conditions prevail. Sudden blizzards, high winds, and deep snowpack are common in these areas of the park. The west side of the park usually experiences more snow, less wind and clear cold days during this time period. Skiing and snowshoeing conditions are usually at their best in January, February, and March. Unpredictable weather alternates between warm and cold, wet and dry conditions during April.

Based on the latest ten years of precipitation data, Estes Park (7522 feet) receives approximately 34 inches of snow each year, while Grand Lake (8369 feet) receives roughly 147 inches annually.

Visitors to the park should make note that the upper portion of Trail Ridge Road is closed during the winter. Depending on weather, the road usually closes for the season around mid-October or early-November, and reopens by Memorial Day Weekend. During the winter season, weather permitting, Trail Ridge Road is normally open to Many Parks Curve on the east side of the park, and to the Colorado River Trailhead on the west side. For the latest information on closures you can call the Trail Ridge Road Status Line at 970-586-1222, or visit the park website.

The following are a few of the winter adventures you can enjoy in and around the national park:

Snowshoeing – is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the park and surrounding areas during the winter. Basically, if you can hike, you can snowshoe! Within the park you can join a ranger-led snowshoe excursion. Several outings are offered throughout the winter. Participants will learn techniques to traverse various terrain as they explore the natural world of subalpine forests. No previous experience is needed for these programs. Outside of the park are several other areas you can explore. On the west side you may want to note that 70% of Grand County is public land. Therefore, snowshoers will have access to hundreds of miles of trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Never Summer Wilderness, Arapaho National Forest, Arapaho National Recreation Area, Byers Peak Wilderness, Vasquez Peak Wilderness, Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest, Winter Park and Fraser Valley areas. You can find additional information on these areas, as well as equipment rental outfitters and various Nordic centers by clicking here. For information on equipment outfitters and snowshoeing opportunities in the Estes Park area, please click here.

Cross-country Skiing – is another popular winter sport in and around the park. On the west side of the park, Rocky Mountain National Park rangers offer the "Ski the Wilderness in Winter" program each winter. Cross-country skiers also have access to trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Never Summer Wilderness, Arapaho National Forest, Arapaho National Recreation Area, Byers Peak Wilderness, Vasquez Peak Wilderness, Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest, Winter Park and Fraser Valley areas. You can find additional information about these areas, as well as equipment rental outfitters and various Nordic centers by clicking here.

Although the terrain and the amount snow on the west side of the park make for better cross-country skiing, the Estes Park area also offers many cross-country skiing opportunities as well. For additional information on these opportunities, as well as equipment rental outfitters on the east side of the park, please click here.

Hiking – Depending on the amount of snow on the ground, visitors can also enjoy hiking in the park, especially on the east side. Destinations such as Cub Lake, Chasm Falls, Deer Mountain, Gem Lake and Upper Beaver Meadows are all great choices during the winter. For more information about these hiking destinations in winter, please click here.

Sledding - Hidden Valley is the one place in Rocky Mountain National Park where sledding is allowed. Please note that no tows are provided, and you must provide your own plastic sled, saucer, or tube (if you don't bring your own they can be rented in Estes Park at most outdoor shops). This gentle hill is at the bottom of the bunny slope of the former Hidden Valley Ski Area. On most weekends there's an attendant here. A warming room is also available. Winter winds can scour the area, causing conditions to vary, so you should call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 for the latest information.

Wildlife Watching - Many park roads are usually open during the winter, which provide access for viewing park wildlife. Winter is an especially good time to look for elk, mule deer, moose, and other large mammals. Visitors should look for moose along the Colorado River on the park's west side. Elk and mule deer are most active at dusk and dawn, and are usually seen in meadow areas. Look for bighorn sheep along the Highway 34/Fall River corridor on the park's east side. Coyotes may be seen any time of day. Members of the Jay family, including Steller's jays, gray jays, Clark's nutcrackers, and the iridescent, long-tailed black-billed magpies are commonly seen in the winter as well.

Other Outdoor Activities – in addition to the winter activities already mentioned above, the Grand Lake area offers several other winter adventures, including downhill skiing, dog sled rides, fat biking, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding and snowmobiling, among many other options. You can click here for a full list of winter activities.

Before venturing into the park during the winter months be sure you’re properly prepared for cold and snowy conditions. Be sure to layer up with insulating, waterproof clothing, wear sunglasses, use sunscreen, carry water and carry a good topographical trail map.

Other info:

For the latest information on weather conditions, please click here.

* Current Bear Lake Snow Conditions

* Overall Trail Conditions

* Colorado Avalanche Information

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this winter, or anytime of the year, 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.






Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Molly Lake Trailhead and Some Trails Temporarily Closed

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest is expecting to temporarily close an area east of the Manhattan Road (County Road 69) starting as soon as March 14, 2017, for public safety due to tree removal in the area. Molly Lake Trail and Trailhead will be closed, as well as a portion of Granite Ridge Trail and a small portion of Molly Moon Trail. Forest Service Road 509 and 509.1, often used for dispersed camping, are also impacted.

Crews will be removing many dead trees and thinning live trees in an effort to reduce hazardous fuels and improve safety in the Molly Lake area. The closure is located south of Red Feather Lakes, east of the Manhattan Road. For a map of the closure, click here. The area closure is necessary, as heavy equipment and logging trucks will be working throughout this landscape. Some equipment used can throw chunks of wood and rocks with great force, posing a serious threat to those in the area.

It should also be noted that log trucks will be utilizing the Manhattan Road and the Red Feather Lakes Road (County Road 74E). Drivers in this area should be cautious around these large vehicles. Signs will be posted in the area when and where work is taking place.

This closure is likely to be an inconvenience to some forest visitors; however, it is imperative for public safety that the area is closed to public access. There are other trails in this general area that remain open for visitors, including Elkhorn and Lady Moon trails. Visitors can also contact our information office at 970-295-6700 or clrdvis@fs.fed.us for ideas on alternative areas to enjoy.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Top 6 Reasons to Visit the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited park in the country. More than 10 million people visit the park each year to take-in the spectacular scenery. Although it may seem crowded during certain seasons, it’s very easy to escape the crowds by heading off on one of the more than 800 miles of trails. Here’s a quick rundown on why the Smokies are a hiker’s paradise.

Fall Colors
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best places in the country to see fall colors. From late September through early November autumn slowly creeps down from the highest elevations to the lowest valleys in the park. As a result of its rich diversity of trees – roughly 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies - park visitors will enjoy a myriad of colors, from spectacular reds and oranges, to brilliant golds and yellows. Although driving along the park roads is a popular way of seeing fall colors, hiking amongst the trees is by far the best way to enjoy them. At any point during the autumn cycle almost every trail will offer great viewing opportunities. We’ve published a guide that highlights some of the best trails as the season progresses.


Grassy Balds
One of the great mysteries of the Southern Appalachians, which includes the Great Smoky Mountains, is whether or not the treeless mountain tops and ridges, known as “balds,” are natural or if they were manmade. No one knows for certain how they came into existence. Even their age is unknown. The general consensus, however, seems to be that the early settlers in the region cleared many of these areas for grazing purposes so that the lower elevations could be used for growing crops during the summer months. Some of the best examples of grassy balds in the Smokies include Gregory Bald, Spence Field, Russell Field, Silers Bald, Andrews Bald, Parsons Bald and Hemphill Bald. However, Andrews Bald and Gregory Bald are the only two balds that are maintained by the park. The others have been left to eventually be reclaimed by forest.

One of the great annual events in the Southern Appalachians is the spectacular flame azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron blooms of late spring. Some of the best examples of these beautiful displays from Mother Nature occur atop these balds. In particular, Gregory Bald, Andrews Bald, Spence Field and Rocky Top offer some of the best displays of these flowers. Moreover, these are among the best hikes in the park, all of which offer sweeping panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains.


The Mt. LeConte Lodge
Although there are a handful of other national parks that offer hike-in lodging, one of the great traditions in the Great Smoky Mountains is an overnight excursion at the Mt. LeConte Lodge. Sitting near the top of 6593-foot Mount LeConte, the lodge offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy a backcountry experience in relative luxury (compared to roughing it!) for those that don’t like to backpack. The only way to reach the lodge is by taking one of 6 trails that meander up the third highest mountain in the park. The most popular route is the Alum Cave Trail. If you take the Trillium Gap Trail don't be surprised to see a pack-train of llamas. The lodge is resupplied by llamas with fresh linens and food three times a week.


Early Settler History
The Great Smoky Mountains has done an excellent job of preserving its rich history of settlement prior to becoming a national park. All across the valleys, from Cades Cove, Elkmont, Big Creek, Smokemont, Deep Creek and everywhere in between, you can find the homes, farms and churches of the early settlers, as well as the remnants and relics leftover from the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, and the logging boom of the early 1900s. There are many outstanding hikes that visit these historical sites, including the Rich Mountain Loop, which visits the home of John Oliver, a veteran of the War of 1812. He and his young family were among the first white settlers to settle in the Cades Cove area. His cabin dates from the 1820s and is one of the oldest structures in the Great Smoky Mountains. You could also take the Little Brier Gap Trail to visit the Walker Sisters Place, the home of the five Walker sisters. The last surviving sister was one of the last remaining homesteaders to live within the park boundaries.


Waterfalls
On average the lower elevations of the Smokies receive roughly 55 inches of rainfall each year, while the highest peaks receive more than 85 inches, which is more than anywhere else in the country except the Pacific Northwest. With all that rain the park is naturally blessed with an abundance of streams. Using modern mapping technology scientists have recently determined that the park contains roughly 2900 miles of streams. With elevations ranging between 6643 feet 840 feet, there are several waterfalls located throughout the park. Grotto Falls has the distinction of being the only waterfall that you can walk behind. Although Abrams Falls is arguably the most scenic and impressive waterfall in the Smokies, I personally like the hike along the Middle Prong Trail to Indian Flats Falls.


Wildflowers
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to more than 1600 species of flowering plants. During each month of the year some forb, tree or vine is blooming in the park. During the spring wildflowers explode during the brief window just prior to trees leafing out and shading the forest floor (from about mid-April thru mid-May). Although there are many parks that are larger, the Great Smoky Mountains has the greatest diversity of plants anywhere in North America. In fact, north of the tropics, only China has a greater diversity of plant life than the Southern Appalachians. Wet and humid climates, as well as a broad range in elevation, are two of the most important reasons for the park's renowned diversity. Hikers can enjoy wildflowers on almost any trail in the park. We’ve published a guide that highlights some of the best wildflower hikes during the spring season.


With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to the hikes listed above, the park offers a variety of other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Friday, March 3, 2017

Temporary Closures In 2017 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 began on March 1 and will continue through July 31, 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, Sundance, 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 at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/area_closures.htm 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.

The series of trails that circumnavigate Lumpy Ridge, known as the Lumpy Ridge Loop, will remain open during this time period.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mountains 101: A Free Online Learning Experience

Parks Canada, in partnership with the University of Alberta, has recently announced the launch of Mountains 101, a free online series of courses that will provide a comprehensive overview of mountain studies. Mountains 101 was designed to inspire people around the world to learn and explore Canada’s mountain heritage, and to understand how Parks Canada protects, conserves and shares these special places.

Mountains 101­­ is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) teaching a comprehensive overview of Mountain Studies. It will cover an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the physical, biological, and human dimensions of mountain places in Alberta, Canada, and around the world. The course will provide online students with a broad and integrated overview of the mountain world, including:

• the geological origins of mountains, how they’re built-up and worn-down over time
• the importance for biodiversity and water cycles, globally and locally
 • the cultural significance of mountains to societies around the globe, and how that relationship has evolved over time
• how mountains are used, and how they’re protected

Mountains 101­­ will also share general tips and tricks to safely enjoy time in the high alpine environment. Outdoor experts will also provide a smart and useful "Tech Tip" at the end of every lesson -- from how to pick the best footwear for hiking, to making smart decisions in avalanche terrain.

For more information on the course and to sign-up, please click here.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Out For a Drive Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Last summer Glacier National Park published this short video, showing what it's like to drive across the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road to cross Glacier from east to west. It carries travelers through some of the most spectacular scenery the park has to offer. This engineering marvel spans more than 50 miles across the park's interior, and takes passengers over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Along its route the road passes glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys, and windswept alpine meadows and sweeping mountain vistas atop the 6646-foot pass. Although the road is still encased in snow and ice right now, here's your chance to enjoy it vicariously from the comfort of your home or office:



In addition to cruising the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the best ways to see Glacier National Park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park. Prospective visitors may also want to 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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

Encompassing more than 265,000 acres, and with more than sixty peaks topping out above 12,000 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. From wooded forests to alpine tundra, these majestic mountains provide habitat to more than 60 species of mammals, while more than 280 species of birds visit or reside within the park. With more than 350 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, Rocky Mountain is also widely recognized as a hiker’s paradise. Here’s why you should plan to visit Rocky sometime this year:

The Continental Divide
One of the best things about Rocky Mountain National Park is its accessibility to the high country. No other park in the country allows visitors to gain lofty elevations so easily. Roughly one-third of the park is above tree-line, and more than 60 peaks top out above 12,000 feet, including 14,259-foot Longs Peak, the highest peak in the park. In addition to trails like the Flattop Mountain Trail or the route to Mt. Ida, visitors can also drive over the Continental Divide along the highest continuous paved road in North America. With a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet, and more than eight miles traveling above 11,000 feet, Trail Ridge Road connects Estes Park with Grand Lake. The road also provides access to outstanding tundra hikes such as the Ute Trail, the Tundra Communities Trail and the Alpine Ridge Trail.


Wildflowers
Wet springs can bring exceptional wildflower blooming seasons in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even during normal years the park explodes with a variety of wildflowers. Some of the varieties visitors might enjoy include Alpine Clover, Rock Primrose, Western Wallflower, Sky Pilot and Alpine Sunflowers in the tundra areas of the park, as well as Mountain Iris, Lupine, Mariposa-lily and Colorado Columbines in the lower elevations. Some of best wildflower hikes include Big Meadows, Cascade Falls, Emerald Lake and the Lumpy Ridge Loop, among many others.


Longs Peak
At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. The iconic sentinel is seen from almost anywhere in the park, as well as from many locations around northern Colorado. It’s also one of most popular “fourteeners” for hikers and climbers to tackle in a state that boasts a total of 53 peaks above 14,000 feet. Although considered a mountaineering route, thousands of hikers attempt to summit the peak each summer using the famous Keyhole Route. Personally, I don’t want anything to do with the narrow ledges and steep cliffs along the upper portions of the route. I much prefer safer climbs such as Hallett Peak and the Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon Mountains route to cure my big mountain summit fever.


Elk Rut
The annual elk rut is one of the premier attractions in Rocky Mountain National Park. Each fall elk descend from the high country to the lower elevation meadows during the annual breeding season. During the rut, bull elk compete with one another for the right to breed with herds of females. Mature bulls compete for cows by bugling, posturing, displaying their antlers and herding, while occasionally fighting off young challengers. The peak season for the rut generally lasts from mid-September to mid-October in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Fall Aspens
Just as the elk rut is kicking into high gear, another annual event that draws tourists to the park during the autumn are the brilliant fall colors of aspens. Each September the leaves of quacking aspens turn from green to orange and golden yellow throughout the park. Some of best hikes for viewing fall aspens include Bierstadt Lake, Alberta Falls, Cub Lake, Finch Lake, Adams Falls and Chasm Lake, among many others.


In addition to the hikes discussed above, Rocky Mountain National Park has many other outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the park has to offer. If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this year, 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.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Forest Service releases draft decision on Sulphur trails project

The U.S. Forest Service has released its final environmental assessment and a draft decision for the Sulphur Ranger District Trails Smart Sizing Project. The draft decision would approve up to 18 miles of new trail construction in the Winter Park and Fraser area, in addition to improved signage and enhanced trailheads.

The project includes rerouting and rebuilding trails, and decommissioning approximately 2.6 miles of system trail as well as any social trails discovered during the project. The plan converts a one-mile section of road to single track trail and narrows some 5 miles of non-motorized trail to single track. The draft decision also opens up some 2.5 miles of additional single track trail to motorbike use to expand the District’s single track motorized system to 13 miles, in addition to 66 miles of motorized trail wide enough to accommodate ATV use. Along with the trail improvements, bicycle use would only be allowed on designated system trails across the Sulphur Ranger District and the plan would restrict winter biking on about 9.5 miles of trail.

The project stems from years of collaboration and discussion with a variety of user groups, including Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA), a group that represents local trail users and communities. In 2012, HTA began design on a plan that would improve the quality of the trails experience for the modern trail user as the current trail system wasn’t meeting the desires of the community.

This project is the culmination of the first phase of HTA’s master trails planning effort. The Forest Service has taken concepts and ideas for a portion of the area identified in the HTA Master Trails Plan and refined these to address concerns for wildlife, watersheds and other National Forest values.

“The goal of this project was to improve the trail system, not only for the public that uses the trail system but also for the wildlife that uses the Forest,” said Sulphur District Ranger Jon Morrissey. “The draft decision improves and modernizes the trail system on National Forest near the towns of Winter Park and Fraser while minimizing impacts to streams and wildlife by choosing more appropriate trail locations.”

The draft decision not only improves trail-to-trail connectivity, creates loop opportunities, and minimizes the amount of roads that trail users need to access other trails but also designs trails to create a range of difficulty levels from easy to difficult.

. The project would be completed in phases over the next 5 to 10 years by working with partners on both implementation and project funding.

The draft decision provides an opportunity to review the information before the decision in finalized. Those who previously provided written comments on the project have until midnight April 3, 2017, to submit written objections.

The complete draft decision, maps, final environmental analysis and information about the objection process are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/SulphurTrails



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Learn About Research And Science At Rocky Mountain National Park Biennial Research Conference

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 2017 Biennial Research Conference “People and Stewardship: Using Research for Management” will be held on March 1-2 at the Estes Park Town Hall. The park hosts one of the largest research programs in the National Park System, with more than 100 research permits active each year. Park partners in research come from other federal agencies, the State of Colorado and universities around the world. Last year, citizen scientists volunteered thousands of hours to research projects. In addition, hundreds of students participate in field data collections and lab analysis. More than one-hundred scientists are expected to attend this two-day meeting to discuss a variety of research projects.

The conference is free and open to all interested members of the community. No registration is required. The conference begins on Wednesday, March 1, at 8:15 a.m. Sessions will end by 4:00 p.m. each day. A complete schedule is available at: www.nps.gov/rlc/continentaldivide/research-conference.htm

Researchers will present for 20 minutes each. Talks are organized into sessions covering related subjects. Wednesday sessions will focus on visitor use, youth relevancy, wetlands and rivers, and the Grand Ditch breach restoration. These sessions will include presentations on Longs Peak history, monitoring visitor use, citizen science, willow restoration, streams and student projects.

Thursday sessions will focus on climate change, archaeology, wildlife, vegetation, environmental contaminants, and public health. These sessions will include presentations on ice patch archaeology, tree migration, macroinvertebrates, subalpine forests, invasive species, restoration, air quality, birds, ticks, elk, and toads. In addition to presentations, posters on a rich variety of subjects will be presented during a poster session on Thursday afternoon.

The 2017 Research Conference celebrates research at Rocky Mountain National Park, promotes collaboration between the park and its partners, provides a forum for researchers and park staff to share discoveries, highlights the current issues relevant to park management, creates opportunities for young professionals and scientists to engage with park staff and the public and encourages dialogue between the park, the public, students and scientists.

The Town Board Room is in the Estes Park Municipal Building, 170 MacGregor Avenue. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Teams Assisting Injured Man In Twin Sisters Area

A 60-year-old male suffered a leg injury in a sliding fall on the Twin Sisters Trail yesterday. Because the location of the injured man is just outside the boundary of the park, Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team and the Larimer County Search and Rescue Team initiated a unified command for the operation. Rocky Mountain Rescue is also assisting. Park rangers were notified of the injury early yesterday afternoon via cell phone by the man’s hiking partner.

Search and Rescue team members reached the man at approximately 4:15 p.m. and provided advanced medical care. Team members have encountered numerous fallen trees and continue to deal with extremely strong winds. Rescuers are using a sled type litter for the evacuation. The rescue teams were expected to reach the trailhead by 9:30 p.m. The patient will then be taken by ambulance to the Estes Park Medical Center.

More than thirty people are involved in the rescue operation. No further information is available at this time.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chance to Hike at Night at State Forest State Park's Full Moon Open House

Colorado Parks and Wildlife again invites the public to head to State Forest State Park Feb. 11, for the next Full Moon Open House, a fun, wintertime night hike, beginning at dusk. If you missed the last event, you still have a chance to enjoy traveling along snow-packed trails with your friends and family, surrounded by beautiful landscapes illuminated by bright, lunar light from a big full moon.

State Forest State Park, considered one of Colorado's most scenic natural areas, straddles the borders of Larimer and Jackson Counties along the peaks of the Medicine Bow mountain range. Due to it's remote location far from city lights, it's a great venue for nocturnal fun.

"We had a great turnout at the last event in January and we expect even more next week," said Park Interpreter Jennifer Greis. "People told us they loved the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy a little nocturnal fun and adventure."

To add to the ambiance, everyone gets free glow-in-the-dark jewelry to wear, and glowsticks will line the paths. In addition, hikers can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies at the Chocolate Cabin as they trek along the trail.

Participants are reminded to arrive at the Moose Visitor Center at dusk, to dress warmly, bring snowshoes or skis and a warm potluck item for sharing with other participants.

Everyone is encouraged to bring their own snowshoes; however, the park will have a limited supply available for rental. Snowshoe rental reservations are recommended.

The event is free but every vehicle must have a valid park pass, available at the Moose Visitor Center.

Dog owners can bring their pets, but due to possible encounters with moose, they are required to keep dogs on a leash at all times or consider leaving them at home.

For more information, contact State Forest State Park at 970-723-8366, or visit www.cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/stateforest.

Who: Colorado Parks and Wildlife's State Forest State Park
What: Full Moon Open House
When: Saturday, Feb. 11, at dusk
Where: State Forest State Park, Moose Visitor Center



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Grand Teton National Park

Rising more than 7000 feet above Jackson Hole, the high peaks of Grand Teton National Park provide one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Although many people seem to treat it as an afterthought, only visiting the park as a side trip while visiting its more famous neighbor to the north, more time and focus should be given to this stunning landscape. Within its 310,000 acres the majestic mountains of the Teton Range are home to a wide variety of wildlife, eight peaks that top out above 12,000 feet, more than 100 alpine and backcountry lakes, and more than 240 miles of trails that provide intimate access to all of this incredibly beautiful scenery.

Cascade Canyon
The Cascade Canyon Trail is widely touted as one of the best hikes in the entire National Park System. In addition to the stunning views of 12,928-foot Mt. Owen, the trail visits Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The route is also known for the wide variety of wildlife that is frequently seen, especially bears and moose.


Lake Views
Lying along the eastern base of the Teton Range is a series of glacially-carved lakes. Rising sharply above their western shores, the views of the rugged mountains are stunning and dramatic. From the shores of Jackson, Leigh, Jenny, Phelps, Bradley and Taggart Lakes, hikers will enjoy some of the most striking views in the park.


Wildlife
Although Yellowstone rightfully receives a lot of attention for its wildlife viewing opportunities, the Grand Tetons are also known for its diversity of wildlife. The rugged mountains provide habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, grizzly bears, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, moose, pronghorn, wolves, fox, lynx, bobcats and mountain lions. There are also more than 300 species of birds, including trumpeter swans, ospreys and bald eagles. A drive along Moose-Wilson Road is a popular way of spotting mega fauna such as bears and moose. However, hikes such as Amphitheater Lake, Hermitage Point, Moose Ponds and the Emma Matilda Lake Loop are all great choices for possibly seeing wildlife in the backcountry.


Photography
The abrupt rise of the Tetons from the valley floor arguably makes them one of the most photogenic mountain ranges in the world. As a result, professional and amateur photographers alike will enjoy a multitude of photo opportunities around the park. Some of the best spots for getting that perfect shot include Mormon Row, Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher’s Landing, as well as the Snake River Overlook, which was made famous by Ansel Adams' 1942 photograph. Of course all of the backcountry locations mentioned above will also provide outstanding photo opportunities.


Snake River Float Trip
The Snake River meanders along the sage brush flats below the Teton Range, and provides park visitors with the unique opportunity of enjoying the majestic mountain scenery from a raft. Although outfitters offer trips throughout the day, I highly recommend the morning trips, as the mountains typically look their finest when bathed in the glow of early morning sunshine. Morning is also the best time to view wildlife along the river banks, including bald eagles.


With more than 240 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Grand Teton National Park. In addition to the hikes listed above, the park offers a variety of other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit Grand Teton this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings as well as other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
HikingintheSmokys.com