Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mesa Verde Experiences Increased Bear Activity

Due to a late season snowstorm with freezing temperatures in southwest Colorado, buds and blossoms on many shrubs and bushes were damaged. As a result, some common food sources for bears, like acorns, chokecherries, and serviceberries, are present in much smaller quantities this summer. The absence of these food sources have left bears looking for alternative food sources across this area of the state, and have increased their contact with humans. Many private and public land areas across southwest Colorado have experienced increased bear-human contacts this summer, and Mesa Verde National Park is no different.

Bears may have a natural curiosity towards humans, but should be wary enough to prevent encounters, and they often keep their distance from humans. Increased contact between humans and bears will decrease this cautiousness, until the animal will display little fear or will actively approach humans. When animals, including bears, become habituated to humans, they begin to recognize humans can provide a source of food, whether from a person feeding them, unattended food in campground and picnic areas, or unsecured dumpsters or improper trash disposal. Wildlife, especially bears, can become aggressive when those food sources are denied, and can otherwise be destructive in attempting to reach those food sources.

Mesa Verde National Park is home to a small population of black bears. The exact number is hard to determine, due to their transient nature. Bear sightings are more frequent this summer, as the bears in the park look for other food sources. Increased bear presence in the Morefield Campground and Far View area have prompted wildlife and law enforcement staff at Mesa Verde to increase hazing of the bears, deterring them from human inhabited areas in the park. Relocating a habituated bear into an area with which it is not familiar and which already has a limited food supply is not a good option, as competition with existing bears in the area may lead to starvation of one or all bears in the area.

Law enforcement and wildlife management staff at Mesa Verde continue to haze the bears that are seen in inhabited areas. This is intended to cause the bears to return to that state of being wary of humans, and not seek them out. Regular patrols are conducted in Morefield Campground to ensure that campers have secured food, coolers, and trash. Campsites that are found not in compliance, will have items confiscated and campers will be cited. Volunteer outreach patrols will soon begin in Morefield Campground to educate campers about proper food storage and waste disposal. Park staff are also consulting other organizations and agencies to ensure we are employing best practices to reduce future bear-human contacts. Park management is working closely with all park staff, the park’s concessionaire, contractors, and visitors to ensure that bears do not have access to human food or garbage.

Park officials ask visitors to help keep the wildlife at Mesa Verde wild. While it is a great experience to see a bear or other wildlife in the park, please do not stop your vehicle to take pictures of them as this can lead to animal caused traffic jams and habituation. Park officials also remind visitors that it is unlawful to approach, feed, or harass animals in the park. Please stay in your vehicle. If you spot a bear in the park, please alert the nearest ranger.

Park staff are currently seeking volunteers to help with bear outreach communication at Morefield Campground. If interested, please e-mail park biologist, Paul Morey at


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Search In Longs Peak Area Rocky Mountain National Park

This morning, park rangers received a report of an overdue party on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Family members indicated that Steve Elliott, 60, from Rockwell, Texas was overdue from the Longs Peak area. He began early yesterday with plans to summit Longs Peak on the Clark’s Arrow/Loft Route and descend via the Keyhole Route. Weather conditions were stormy yesterday morning with reported areas of ice on a variety of routes.

Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members are searching along the Keyhole Route in addition to the Chasm Lake area, Clark’s Arrow/Loft Route and Glacier Gorge. Weather in the area is quickly deteriorating, with numerous lighting strikes, hail, rain and snow mix. Flight for Life and Northern Colorado Medivac has aided with aerial search efforts along the Keyhole Route. Park searchers are also contacting numerous park visitors who are in the area as well.

Park rangers are asking for anyone who may have been in the Longs Peak area yesterday, Friday, August 11, to call the park dispatch center at (970) 586-1204.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Pavement Preservation Project Continues In Rocky Mountain National Park - Adjusted Schedule Due To Weather Delays

A major pavement preservation project continues in Rocky Mountain National Park. The work is taking place in a variety of highly visited locations in the park and includes some closures and delays. Weather permitting, work will occur in the following locations on the dates listed. No pavement work will take place on weekends.

Half of the Park and Ride parking area will be closed on Thursday, August 10, Friday, August 11 and Monday, August 14

Half of Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot will be closed to vehicles on Thursday, August 10.

The Moraine Park Discovery Center and parking area will be closed on Friday, August 11.

The Fall River Entrance will have significant impacts on Thursday, August 10, as all three lanes will be impacted from pavement work. Expect up to 20 minute delays through that area. There will be additional work on Friday, August 11, with minimal delays.

Expect up to 20 minute delays on Trail Ridge Road from the Fall River Entrance to Rainbow Curve - Thursday August 10 through Friday August 11 and Monday August 14 through Friday, August 18.

Alpine Visitor Center, Trail Ridge Store Parking Area and Old Fall River Road will be closed while the parking area is being resurfaced and then striped on August 17.

Sprague Lake parking area will be closed on Tuesday, August 15. Glacier Creek Stables will be accessible. The shuttle stop will be operational but there will be no parking available.

This important project is critical for the long term protection of park roads and parking areas.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Man Rescued From Pagoda Mountain In Rocky Mountain National Park

On Saturday morning, August 5, two hikers came upon a seriously injured man on Pagoda Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 34 year old from Berthoud, Colorado, had apparently fallen approximately 15 to 20 feet. They used their SPOT GPS location device at 9:45 a.m. to notify Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue Team members of the incident.

Due to the reported nature of the man’s injuries, his location in difficult terrain and the time it would take for rescuers to reach him, Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team members requested assistance from Colorado National Guard to extricate the injured man from his location.

At 12:55 p.m. a Colorado National Guard helicopter lowered a litter and medic to the location. The medic and injured man were then evacuated via a hoist operation, using a winch operated cable. The Colorado National Guard helicopter flew to an alpine tundra site in the Wild Basin area and transferred the patient to a Flight For Life air ambulance that flew the man to St. Anthony’s hospital. Inclement weather during the operation provided additional challenges for air operations.

The aid provided by the two hikers who found the injured man, as well as the updates they provided to Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue Team members, was critical to the patient’s survival. Park staff are grateful for the assistance of the two hikers as well as the Colorado National Guard for their collective life-saving efforts.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado Tackle 2A Trails Project

Approximately 70 volunteers from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) will be in the Dry Lake area assisting with the 2A Trails project this weekend. The group will be working on one of the short loop trails near the Dry Lake campground and staging area.

This VOC weekend is a family camping weekend and Yampatika is providing environmental education opportunities for younger members of some of the families. Due to the VOC work in the area, the Dry Lake campground and parking lot will be closed from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Public parking is available along the road in the vicinity of these facilities.

This is another example of partnerships helping for a greater good, adding to the list of partners helping with the Buffalo Pass Trails project including Routt County Riders, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Smartwool, City of Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Community Foundation (YVCF) and Yampatika.

This is a City of Steamboat Springs 2A Project – funded with the accommodations tax. In November of 2013 the voters of Steamboat Springs approved a portion of the municipal accommodations tax to develop trails. Over ten years, there will be a $5.1 million dollar investment in the trail infrastructure in Steamboat Springs.

Individuals looking to invest in the maintenance of local trails can contribute to the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, administered by the YVCF. This fund provides a permanent endowment supporting specific non-motorized trail and trailhead maintenance projects on public lands in Routt and Moffat Counties. Find out more at