Monday, January 30, 2017

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland Campgrounds and Day-use Areas Fee Increase for 2017 Season

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) recently announced the approval of a fee increase for campgrounds and day-use areas operated by American Land and Leisure for the 2017 season. Fees will increase by 10 percent or less to offset rising operating costs.

American Land and Leisure requested the fee change to offset the rising cost of trash collection, staffing, toilet pumping and campground cleaning. Fees were last changed in 2013.

Reservations made through the reservation system at before the pricing change will be honored at the 2016 price. Senior and Access passes will continue to be honored providing a 50 percent discount to holders at campgrounds.

American Land and Leisure operates 51 campgrounds and seven day-use areas for the ARP. The ARP has been operating most campgrounds and some day-use areas through concessionaires since the mid-1990s. Concessionaires perform the on-site operations and maintenance and return a portion of their proceeds to the ARP that are reinvested in improvements.

The 2017 campground fee and amenity list can be found at


Friday, January 27, 2017

Another Year Of Record Visitation At Rocky Mountain National Park In 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park received its highest annual visitation in 2016. The park received a total of 4,517,584 visitors for 2016, which was an 8.7 percent increase over record visitation in 2015. All months in 2016 set visitation records except for December. This visitation represents a 32 percent increase since 2014, and a 40 percent increase since 2012.

Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics are reliably accurate estimates and help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park. Winter weekend visitation also continues to increase. The top ten busiest days in 2016 in order from first to tenth were: September 24, July 3, September 4, September 17, July 24, July 10, July 17, September 5, July 23 and July 30.

Many other national parks in the Rocky Mountain West also had increases in visitation last year. The National Park Service celebrated its Centennial in 2016. Additional factors of the rise in visitation at Rocky include an increased population along the Front Range of Colorado.

Park managers will continue to address what effect this level of visitation will have on visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experiences and operational capacity. This past summer and early fall, park staff restricted vehicle access in two specific areas, the Bear Lake Road corridor and the Wild Basin area, when parking areas filled and heavy congestion warranted. This occurred most weekends from late June through September of 2016. We will continue to implement and assess these short term efforts in 2017. Addressing day use for the long term will require a thoughtful and stakeholder-engaged planning process.

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


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Top 6 Reasons to Visit Glacier National Park

I know this may sound a little over-the-top, but every person living in this country should visit Glacier National Park at least once in their lifetime. It will forever change them. John Muir once said of Glacier; "Give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time seem short or long, and cares will never again fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as gifts from heaven."

I know I can’t, but I'm pretty sure there aren’t too many others that can quite sum-up the Glacier experience better than Muir did. Here are just a few of the reasons on why I think Glacier is so special:

Unparalleled Beauty
In my humble opinion Glacier National Park is by far the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen. This includes almost every major national park in the lower 48. As a disclaimer, I should note that I haven’t been to Alaska….yet. Having said that, my love affair with this park began immediately the first time I laid eyes on it. To be precise, it was during the drive from Browning along Highway 2 as we approached the East Glacier/Two Medicine area. My love and awe for the park has grown after every hike and after each subsequent visit. At every turn on any road or trail is one spectacular scene after another. In fact, there are no bad or boring hikes. Photographers could spend a lifetime here taking photos of scenes that normally show up in Backpacker Magazine or National Geographic. One of the most famous photo locations in the entire National Park System is at a spot known as Wild Goose Island Overlook. You may recognize the scene in the photo below:

Most people assume that Glacier received its name as a result of the 25 glaciers that are located throughout the park. However, the park was actually given its name as a result of the rugged mountains that were carved by massive glaciers during the ice ages. Fortunately, many of the glaciers can be reached by trail. Some of the most popular hikes for enjoying front row views of these glaciers include Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier.

The Highline Trail
The Highline Trail from Logan Pass is widely recognized as one of the best hikes in the park, if not the entire National Park System. At every step and every turn hikers will enjoy absolutely spectacular scenery as they follow along the Continental Divide. The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the wildflowers all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life. If you can make it past the narrow ledge section near the trailhead you’ll have the option of traveling to Haystack Pass, Granite Park Chalet, or making a one-way hike which continues all the way to “The Loop”.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road
The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road to cross Glacier National Park from east to west. The epic route transports visitors 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, takes passengers over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, and treats visitors to some of the grandest sights in the Rocky Mountains. Along its course 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.

Several scenic viewpoints and pullouts along the way provide motorists with ample opportunities to stop for extended views and photographs. Once at Logan Pass be sure to visit Hidden Lake Overlook, a relatively easy hike that takes hikers across the Continental Divide just above the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

Some drivers (and passengers) might be a little intimidated by the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Portions of it hug the mountainside as it traverses over steep drop-offs and steers through tight curves. If this gives you any pause, you may want to consider letting the drivers of the iconic Red "jammer" Buses take you across the mountains.

Outside of Yellowstone, Glacier National Park is arguably the best park for spotting and viewing wildlife. Although wildlife are frequently spotted along the road, a venture into the wilderness is likely to bring better results. Trails like Iceberg Lake, Ptarmigan Tunnel, Grinnell Glacier and Swiftcurrent Pass are excellent choices if you wish to possibly see a grizzly or black bear. Bullhead Lake, the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail, Dawson Pass and Cobalt Lake are all great choices for spotting moose. For bighorn sheep, check out Grinnell Glacier, Dawson Pass or the Highline Trail. For the best opportunities to possibly spot a mountain goat, check out Hidden Lake Overlook, the Highline Trail or Piegan Pass.

Backcountry Chalets
2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the Sperry and Granite Park Chalets. Both backcountry chalets were built in 1914 during a period when the Great Northern Railway was promoting Glacier National Park under the "See America First" campaign. Today the two backcountry chalets offer hikers the opportunity to trek to an overnight backcountry destination without being bogged down with a bunch of camping gear.

Perched at an elevation of more than 6500 feet, the Sperry Chalet sits high atop a rock ledge that offers visitors commanding views of majestic mountain peaks, waterfalls, as well as Lake McDonald in the valley far below. The Granite Park Chalet rests just below Swiftcurrent Pass, along the edge of a sub-alpine meadow that offers commanding views of Heavens Peak and the McDonald Valley. Day hikers and overnight guests commonly reach this chalet by one of three trails: the Highline Trail, the Granite Park Trail or the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail out of Many Glacier.

With more than 740 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Glacier National Park. In addition to the hikes listed above, the park offers a variety of other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit Glacier 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.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Man Rescued Off Trail In Alberta Falls Area

A 58-year-old man from Grand Forks, North Dakota, spent an unplanned night in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park after he became lost over the weekend while hiking. He was found in deep snow approximately 300 yards off the North Longs Peak Trail, south of Alberta Falls. It was extremely fortunate that he was discovered on the morning of January 21st by two visitors who were skiing in the drainage.

Park rangers reached the man and provided advanced medical care. He was suffering from hypothermia and additional injuries related to exposure. He was evacuated via a toboggan litter to Glacier Gorge Trailhead where he was taken by an Estes Park Medical Center ambulance to the Park and Ride area along Bear Lake Road. He was then flown by Flight For Life to University of Colorado Hospital.

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue team was assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue in the carry-out operation. Over fifteen people were involved in the rescue operation.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Take a Tour of Glacier National Park on an Historic Red Bus

Modern day visitors to Glacier National Park can step back in time by taking a tour of the park on one of the historic Red Buses. These historic open-air buses have been taking visitors through the park since 1936, and are widely considered to be the oldest fleet of touring vehicles anywhere. While the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road travels across precipitous cliffs and hair-pin turns, the Red Buses allow visitors to soak in Glacier's magnificent scenery - instead of worrying about having to keep their cars on the road.

In this short video below, Finley-Holiday Films gives you an idea of what it's like to cruise through the park in one of these wonderful old vehicles:

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.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Forest Service finalizes Magnolia Trails decision

The U.S. Forest Service has released its final decision for the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project.

The decision finalizes all elements in the draft decision, including 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. Currently there are about 60 miles of trail on the ground in that area, including 14 miles of National Forest system trails and about 46 miles of non-system or “user-created” trails.

The project includes building new trail, adding some user-created trails to the system and obliterating all other user-created routes. A total of 29 miles of user-created trails identified in the final decision will be obliterated following this decision, as well as any additional user-created routes found during project implementation.

“The decision allows the Forest Service to optimize trail experiences to meet user demand,” said district recreation manager Matt Henry. “As the Front Range population continues to increase, people are going to seek places to recreate. By providing a sustainable, accessible and well-connected trail system, we can get ahead of that trend, and better protect wildlife and the environment in the process.“

The decision allows for new signage to help keep visitors on the system trails; improved trailheads –including bathrooms and expanded parking at West Magnolia and Front Range trailheads – and facilities for horse trailers at West Magnolia Trailhead.

The decision eliminates snowmobiles in the project area and restricts bikes and horses to designated trails. It also provides an opportunity to groom non-motorized trails in winter for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking – a sport that has seen a remarkable increase in popularity in recent years.

The decision also facilitates access from the trail system to the community of Nederland through connecting trails that don’t currently exist, allowing trail users to easily visit businesses downtown.

Other regional trail connections outlined in the decision include connecting the Magnolia Trail System to the Toll Conservation Easement Trail to Jenny Creek Trail, which would allow non-motorized connection all the way to the Continental Divide on trails; and providing connectivity to Boulder County Open Space’s Reynolds Ranch as that trail system develops over time. However, this decision applies to management on National Forest lands only.

The Forest Service’s regional office reviewed 17 objection letters over the past month, which highlighted concerns over wildlife, law enforcement, camping, trash, monitoring, social trails and funding. The review team found that both the analysis and decision are consistent with Forest Service regulation, policy and law.

“I realize not all people will like all components of my decision,” said District Ranger Sylvia Clark. “This is why I have included a collaborative approach to trail layout in the design criteria, utilizing input from user groups, landowners and other agencies. In this way, we will be able to design great trails for recreation while taking into account landowner needs and wildlife concerns. Furthermore, an adaptive management approach written into the decision allows us to adjust the system based on social and environmental concerns as they arise in the future.”

The project will be implemented in phases over the next 5-10 years by working with partners on both fundraising and implementation, starting on the West Magnolia side of the Peak to Peak Highway.

The final decision, maps and final environmental assessment are available online at This web page will be updated as implementation progresses over the coming years.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lynx Made Famous on Facebook Found Dead at Purgatory

A lynx that was spotted walking across a ski slope two weeks ago at the Purgatory Ski Resort in southwest Colorado was found dead at the area on Sunday.

Purgatory ski patrol members found the animal on a ski slope on the west side of the resort in the Chairlift 8 area. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has retrieved the carcass and it will be sent to the agency’s lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy – the animal equivalent of an autopsy.

A video of the animal walking slowly across a ski run was viewed nearly a million times on social media.

CPW’s veterinarians will do a complete evaluation of the animal. It will include an examination of stomach contents, a check for parasites and injuries, an assessment of its internal organs, and blood tests. Results might not be known for a few weeks. A cursory examination of the carcass by wildlife managers in Durango showed the lynx to be emaciated.

The image of the animal sauntering calmly among skiers and snowboarders drew the attention of CPW biologists. Sightings of lynx are fairly common during the winter, said Scott Wait, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW’s southwest region. But after several Facebook videos appeared showing similar sightings of the animal he became concerned.

“The first time I saw it I wasn’t entirely surprised because we do get a lot of reports of lynx sightings,” Wait said. “But after I saw three more videos of the same animal behaving the same way in the same area I figured that something was wrong with the cat. Wild animals die of various causes just like people do.”

Two lynx, a mother and a kitten, were photographed on nearby Molas Pass a week before the sighting at the ski area. Those animals walked calmly along the road as a motorist took photographs.

“We don’t want people to think that a lynx is sick every time they see one,” Wait said. “Lynx are doing well in Colorado, but face the same challenges all wildlife does.”

In 1999, the Colorado Division of Wildlife started a lynx reintroduction program. A total of 218 lynx were transplanted from Canada and Alaska over the next seven years. Since then, multiple generations of lynx have been born. Surveys by CPW biologist show that the population of the large felines is stable.

At this point there's still no word as to whether the lynx is still in Purgatory, or has actually gone straight to Hell or Heaven....


Friday, January 6, 2017

Mesa Verde Offers Free Guided Hike January 21

Park Rangers will be leading a guided hike focusing on winter survival strategies used by the Ancestral Pueblo people at Mesa Verde on Saturday, January 21, beginning at 11 a.m. The guided hike is free, but advance sign-up is required. Children should be at least 7 years old to join the hike. Participants will meet at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and then take part in a guided walk of approximately 3/4 of a mile. Be prepared to be outdoors for 2 to 3 hours with extra layers of clothing and water. There is a limit of 20 people.

To sign up for the hike, for weather conditions, and for more information on the hike, please call the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at 970-529-4631. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is approximately a 45 minute drive from the park entrance.

More information and other upcoming hikes can be found at