Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rocky Mountain National Park Changes Entrance Fee To Address Infrastructure Needs And Improve Visitor Experience

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that Rocky Mountain National Park will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs that enhance the visitor experience. Effective June 1, all of the park’s passes will increase. Rocky Mountain National Park is unique in that it offers a Day Pass. Rocky will continue to offer the Day Pass, it will increase from $20 to $25. The Seven-Day Vehicle Pass will increase from $30 to $35, the Seven-Day Motorcycle Pass will increase from $25 to $30. The park’s Annual Pass will increase from $60 to $70.

Last October, the NPS proposed a plan to adopt seasonal pricing at Rocky Mountain National Park and 16 other national parks to raise additional revenue for infrastructure and maintenance needs. The fee structure announced today addresses many concerns and ideas provided by the public on how best to address fee revenue for parks.

Revenue from entrance fees remains in the National Park Service and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. In Rocky Mountain National Park, 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. The other 20 percent of entry fee income is shared with other national parks for their projects.

According to park superintendent Darla Sidles, “We appreciate all park stakeholders who engaged and commented on the proposed fee increase including elected officials, community leaders, park visitors and our neighbors. We are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and providing visitors with the best possible experience. This fee increase is still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences. Plus, 80 percent of those funds stay right here in Rocky to benefit visitors and improve the park, such as operating the park’s visitor shuttle bus system, providing food storage lockers at campgrounds, and restoring willow and aspen habitat. The additional revenue will also help us address the park’s $84 million deferred maintenance backlog on projects such as rehabilitating numerous trails like the Onahu Trail and Cub Lake Trail, renovating restroom facilities, replacing a failing septic system at Timber Creek Campground, and mitigating beetle-killed hazard trees in or near park facilities such as picnic areas and trailheads.”

National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Rocky’s 2017 visitation alone was 4.4 million visitors, making it the fourth most visited national park. Throughout the country, the combination of aging infrastructure and increased visitation affects park roads, bridges, buildings, campgrounds, water systems, bathrooms, and other facilities. Maintenance deferred on these facilities amounts to $11.6 billion nationwide backlog.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

Rocky Mountain National Park has had an entrance fee since 1939. The current fee rate has been in effect since October, 2015. The park is one of 117 in the National Park System that charges an entrance fee. The remaining 300 sites are free to enter.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.



Jeff
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Friday, April 13, 2018

National Park Service Announces Plan to Address Infrastructure Needs & Improve Visitor Experience

As part of its ongoing efforts to address aging park infrastructure and improve the visitor experience, the National Park Service (NPS) announced today changes to the entrance fees charged at national parks. The changes, which come in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, will modestly increase entrance fees to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.

Most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will be increased by $5 and will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1, 2018. Yosemite National Park for example will increase the price of a seven-day vehicle pass to the park from $30 to $35. More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter. A complete list of park entrance fees may be found here.

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain in the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected. The funds will be used for projects and activities to improve the experience for visitors who continue to visit parks at unprecedented levels. Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, means aging park facilities incurring further wear and tear.

“An investment in our parks is an investment in America,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal. Your input has helped us develop a balanced plan that focuses on modest increases at the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to larger increases proposed for 17 highly-visited national parks. The $11.6 billion maintenance backlog isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure. This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels.”

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.

“Repairing infrastructure is also about access for all Americans,” Secretary Zinke said. “Not all visitors to our parks have the ability to hike with a 30-pound pack and camp in the wilderness miles away from utilities. In order for families with young kids, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers.”

Fees to enter national parks predate the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916. For example, Mount Rainier National Park began charging an entrance fee in 1908. Factoring in inflation, the $5 entrance fee the park charged in 1914 would be the equivalent of a $123 entrance fee today—more than four times the price of the new seven-day $30 vehicle pass.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

In addition to implementing modest fee increases and enhancing public-private partnerships aimed at rebuilding national parks, Secretary Zinke is working closely with Congress on proposed bipartisan legislation to use revenue derived from energy produced on federal lands and waters to establish a special fund within the Treasury specifically for “National Park Restoration”. The billfollows the blueprint outlined in Secretary Zinke and President Trump's budget proposal, the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund.

The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type. Some parks not yet aligned with the other parks in their category will raise their fees incrementally and fully incorporate the new entrance fee schedule by January 1, 2020.



Jeff
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

One week left to file your taxes and check-off for wildlife

This year’s tax season ends on April 17, offering extra time for last-minute filers to submit their 2017 federal and state taxes and to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Colorado’s wildlife. Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks those who have not yet filed to consider helping threatened and endangered wildlife when finalizing your Colorado state returns with a voluntary contribution through the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund.

CPW is one of the organizations included on Colorado state income tax form 104A as part of Checkoff Colorado, which allows taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to the organizations of their choice when filing their state income tax returns. Specifying a contribution on line No. 1 of Colorado tax form 104CH (the Voluntary Contributions Schedule form) supports CPW programs that support wildlife rehabilitation and preservation of threatened and endangered species in the state of Colorado. Specified donations to the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund are tax-deductible and help support around 750 species of wildlife that cannot be hunted or fished.

Funds go to projects that manage or recover wildlife including birds of prey, amphibians, reptiles, lynx, river otters, black-footed ferrets and others. The Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund also helps support wildlife rehabilitation centers that work to care for injured and orphaned wildlife ranging from orphaned bear cubs to the great blue heron.

“We have a bit of fun with our campaign theme that wildlife doesn’t have an annual income to support their livelihood,” said Dan Zimmerer, CPW’s partnership coordinator. “But the truth is, some species are simply more vulnerable than others. These check-off contributions help us fund CPW projects and help support our rehab partners. These partners truly appreciate your help in doing their very important wildlife work.”

Coloradans contributed more than $180,000 last year to help a variety of species through the tax checkoff, making the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund the number one fund out of over 20 options for Colorado residents. Some recent non-game success stories in Colorado include the reintroduction of the Canada lynx and natural breeding after translocation of the endangered boreal toad. Be a part of our next conservation story by checking off for wildlife on your 2017 Colorado state taxes.

To learn more about the various species that benefit from your voluntary contribution, please visit cpw.state.co.us.



Jeff
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Friday, March 23, 2018

Public Input Requested on the Future of Cascade Cottages In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is considering options for the future use of the 42-acre Cascade Cottages property acquired in March of 2017. For many decades Kansas school-teachers L.V. and Hazel Davis operated a privately-owned lodging business that was open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Honoring the wishes of the family patriarch, the family approached park staff in 2009, offering to sell the property to the park. With assistance from the Trust for Public Land, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, and many donors, including the Estes Valley Land Trust, Larimer County, and the Town of Estes Park, the park was able to acquire the property. Park staff are now in the process of determining how the property should be used and/or preserved.

The Cascade Cottages property is bordered on the south by Fall River, and is named for a series of cascades on the river. The property is bisected by Fall River Road (U.S. Highway 34), and is located approximately 1 mile inside the Fall River Entrance to RMNP. The property office, 12 rustic cabins, and associated infrastructure are located on the south side of Fall River Road and lie very lightly on the land. The cabins are built on stone or concrete piers, and water lines run above ground. There is no well or permanent water system. Water was hauled to the site and stored in above ground tanks, and propane was delivered to the site. The only externally provided utilities are power and telephone. The property to the north of Fall River Road is undeveloped.

Preliminary Options
While no decision has been made on the future use of the Cascade Cottages Property, some preliminary options have been developed to initiate discussion. These preliminary options are:

Youth Conservation Corps Seasonal Housing
The park’s friends group, The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, funds a youth conservation corps every summer. The corps perform projects within the park such as trail reconstruction. Some of the existing cottages could be renovated and site improvements completed to provide housing that would only be occupied by the corps during the summer months.

Youth and Volunteer Outdoor Education
Some of the cabins could be renovated and minor site improvements completed to provide a rustic lodging and outdoor education facility for youth or park volunteers that have limited experience with the outdoors. Not as outdoorsy as camping, the rustic cabins could provide an outdoors experience without all the comforts of home.

Mothball the Structures
RMNP would terminate all outside services (power and phone), and would secure each building from entry using plywood coverings over windows and doors. While left unused, the buildings would not receive routine maintenance.

Remove the Structures and Restore the Site
The structures and infrastructure would be removed and recycled to the extent feasible. The ground would be scarified to break up compacted soil, and the area replanted with native grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees. The goal would be to place all disturbed areas on a trajectory where they would be restored to natural conditions in a matter of a few decades.

Other Options
If you have comments on the options above or an idea for the future of Cascade Cottages that is compatible with the mission of the National Park Service, please share your idea with us!

Comments must be received in writing by close of business on April 23, 2018. Comments can be submitted online by visiting: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo. Look for “Cascade Cottages.”

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Superintendent
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517

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



Jeff
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Moose Research Continues In Rocky Mountain National Park

Late last summer, park staff began a moose research project to better understand how moose use habitat in Rocky Mountain National Park. Moose presence has been increasing annually on both the east and west sides of the park, with recent reports showing animals observed in every major drainage in the park.

As part of this research, National Park Service staff are collaring up to 40 moose throughout the park. Seven animals were collared on the west side of the park last year, and staff will begin collaring moose on the east side of the park this year as well. This research project will occur for the next five years, through 2022.

Information on moose population size, population growth rate, and carrying capacity as well as habitat use will be gathered from this by excessive browse for decades. During the course of executing this adaptive management plan, new challenges have emerged, including a noticeably growing and expanding research. Moose have not been previously GPS collared in the park, and affixing collars will assist greatly in collecting this important information. Moose will also be monitored for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and baseline health metrics will be collected, which will allow biologists to better understand the overall health of the park’s moose population.

Since 2008, Rocky Mountain National Park’s Elk and Vegetation Management Plan has been undergoing efforts to reestablish the natural range of variation to the elk population, as well as aspen and willow communities which have been impacted by moose populations in the park. Moose are wetland specialists, and can consume significant amounts of willow during the summer months. Aspen and willow are critical habitat for a wide and diverse array of wildlife species.



Jeff
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Phase 2 of Rim Rock Drive Repaving Starts Today

Beginning March 12, road work will start on Rim Rock Drive near the east entrance of Colorado National Monument. From March 12 to 14, the construction company will close one lane and use pilot vehicles to escort cars through the construction zone. Motorists should expect delays of 15-30 minutes. Due to the expected rough and potentially loose surfaces the National Park Service is asking bicyclists and motorcyclists to avoid this stretch of Rim Rock Drive during this time.

The second phase of this multi-phased project involves repairing and resurfacing the east hill of Rim Rock Drive, from the Grand Junction entrance and through the intersection with DS Road and then following DS Road to the monument boundary. Crews will be milling and pulverizing the current road surfaces, preparing the surfaces for paving and then laying new asphalt and concrete.

Superintendent Ken Mabery stated, “The goal of everyone associated with this project is to accomplish the needed work in a safe and efficient manner for the long term access needs of community members and visitors.”

Starting on March 15, the east hill of Rim Rock Drive will be temporarily closed from the Devils Kitchen trailhead and picnic area to Cold Shivers Point overlook for about one month. During this time traffic into the monument and those traveling to or through Glade Park will need to use the Little Park Road detour. Devils Kitchen trailhead and picnic area may be closed for a day or two as paving is completed immediately adjacent to them. DS road will be open to one way traffic with a pilot vehicle escorting motorists through the construction zones.

Visitors traveling from the Fruita entrance will be able to access the visitor center and go as far as the Cold Shivers Point overlook, approximately 15 miles beyond the visitor center. They will be able to exit the monument using DS Road.

Spring hours are now in effect at Colorado National Monument. The visitor center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. For additional information please visit www.nps.gov/colm or call 970-858-3617, ext. 360.



Jeff
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Colorado Trail Foundation Seeks Trail Crews

The Colorado Trail Foundation is seeking 10 trail crews - the most ever - to help with trail maintenance on the 500-mile trail.

Volunteer Trail Crews vary in length from one to eight days. The CTF provides training, tools, hardhats, meals (except for backpack crews), group camp equipment, and leadership. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the crew location and for their personal equipment, including tent or camper, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, eating utensils, work clothes, and other personal items, as applicable. You can contact the crew leader for crew specifics.

For more information, please click here.



Jeff
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Thursday, March 8, 2018

National Park System Sees More Than 330 Million Visits

The National Park Service (NPS) today announced 330,882,751 recreation visits in 2017 – almost identical to the record-setting 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016. While numbers were steady, visitors actually spent more time in parks during their 2017 visits compared to 2016.

Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, also means aging park facilities are incurring further wear and tear. President Trump has proposed legislation to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund that would help address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog in the National Park System. The fund would take new revenue from federal energy leasing and development and provide up to $18 billion to help pay for repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education funded schools.

“Our National Parks are being loved to death," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "As visitor rates continue at a high level, we must prioritize much-needed deferred maintenance including aging facilities, roads and other critical infrastructure. President Trump's proposal to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund is a step in the right direction. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue, and the President and I remain ready to work with anyone in Congress who is willing to get the job done.”

National Park System 2017 visitation highlights include:

• More than 1.44 billion recreation hours in 2017, an increase of 19 million hours over 2016

• Most – 385 of 417 parks in the National Park System – count park visitors

• 61 of the 385 reporting parks set new visitation records (about 16 percent of reporting parks)

• 42 parks broke a record they set in 2016

• 3 parks had more than 10 million recreation visits – Blue Ridge Parkway, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

• 10 parks had more than 5 million recreation visits

• 81 parks had more than 1 million recreation visits – one more million-visitor park than 2016

• Half of national park visitation occurred in 27 parks

• The total solar eclipse last August brought visitors in record numbers to several parks


Top 10 Visitation National Parks: Recreation Visits (Deferred Maintenance Amount)

1) Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 11,388,893 ($215,451,902)

2) Grand Canyon National Park: 6,254,238 ($329,437,054)

3) Zion National Park: 4,504,812 ($65,291,893)

4) Rocky Mountain National Park: 4,437,215 ($84,234,245)

5) Yosemite National Park: 4,336,890 ($582,670,827)

6) Yellowstone National Park: 4,116,524 ($515,808,707)

7) Acadia National Park: 3,509,271 ($59,858,099)

8) Olympic National Park: 3,401,996 ($120,719,515)

9) Grand Teton National Park: 3,317,000 ($178,630,525)

10) Glacier National Park : 3,305,512 ($153,838,276)



Jeff
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pikes Peak Summit Complex Project Proposal Moves Closer to Finalization

The Pikes Peak Summit Complex Project proposal Draft Decision Notice was released by Acting Forest and Grassland Supervisor Charles Oliver. Among other activities, the Draft Decision Notice would authorize a new Summit Visitor Center. The existing Summit House is proposed to be replaced with a larger, two-story facility set into the hillside. It would be positioned to visibly anchor with adjacent Mount Rosa, the location where Zebulon Pike first viewed Pikes Peak.

According to Oliver, “I’m excited to move this major project closer to completion. It follows years of planning and collaboration by many dedicated partners. Once approved, the new Summit House will certainly be a showcase for our nation and the U.S Forest Service.”

The Proposed Action Alternative protects the high-altitude tundra ecosystem and the cultural heritage of the landscape while addressing the need for access to the summit. The high-altitude tundra ecosystem will be protected to prevent damage from human infrastructure and activity. The structures and visitor center interpretive displays will reflect the rich history of Pikes Peak and the cultures that have called this area home.

The new visitor center, designated driving routes, parking areas, walking paths, and interpretive points, will offer a more natural and enhanced experience for all who visit or work at the summit.

Major annual events associated with Pikes Peak summit will continue, including the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. In addition, the Cog Railway, hiking trails, highway and viewing locations will all continue to be available.

This proposed decision is subject to objections. After this Decision Notice is signed, project implementation may begin as soon as this summer.

The City of Colorado Springs (City), Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain (PPAM), in partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), have proposed to design, construct and operate the Summit Complex in the Pike National Forest, in El Paso County, Colorado. The U.S. Forest Service is the federal lead Agency for this EA. The existing Complex is located on the top of Pikes Peak at an elevation of 14,115 feet. For additional information concerning this Draft Decision Notice, visit the Project website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=47229



Jeff
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Monday, March 5, 2018

Winter Ecology Series at Mesa Verde: Free Guided Hike Along the Petroglyph Point Trail

Observe winter birds and encounter Ancestral Pueblo sites during a hike along the Petroglyph Point Trail, Friday, March 9 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Learn about the birds that call Mesa Verde their winter home, while hiking through the pinon-juniper woodlands of Mesa Verde, past archeological sites built hundreds of years ago. The guided hike is free, but there is a limit of 20 people so advance sign-up is required. Children should be at least 7 years old to join the hike. Dress warmly, bring water, and be prepared to hike 2.5 miles in winter conditions. Bring a bird field guide and binoculars if you have them. Meet at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, about a 45-minute drive from the park entrance.

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 located 20 miles from the park entrance, and is approximately a 45-minute drive. The park entrance fee is $15. More information of other upcoming hikes, visit http://go.nps.gov/mvwgh.



Jeff
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Friday, March 2, 2018

Rocky Mountain National Park To Allow Bicycle Use On Two-Mile Section Of East Shore Trail On The West Side Of Park

A Final Rule will be published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018, that allows bicycle use on a two-mile section of the East Shore Trail within Rocky Mountain National Park. The rule can be found at regulations.gov. Search for the regulation identifier number “1024-AE31.” The East Shore Trail is an existing hiking and equestrian trail on the west side of the park near the Town of Grand Lake. The East Shore Trail Area is excluded from the park’s designated wilderness.

Trail proponents, including the Headwaters Trails Alliance, will be responsible for completing work on the trail before it opens to public bicycle use. The timeline is still being negotiated.

After extensive public involvement, a decision document was signed that approved bicycle use on this two-mile section of the trail inside the park. Required trail reroutes to safely accommodate bicycle use triggered rulemaking per the National Park Service Bicycle Rule.



Jeff
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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Decision Reached: Crater Trail To be Permanently Closed

A decision document has been signed by the Intermountain Regional Office, National Park Service that will enable Rocky Mountain National Park to permanently close the one-mile long Crater Trail to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources. For the past three years, the Crater Trail has been closed year-round pending the outcome of public input and a decision on the Environmental Assessment. Prior to that, the trail was typically closed annually from May to August 15, during the bighorn lambing season, and only open two months from mid-August through mid-October.

An Environmental Assessment for the Crater Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park was prepared in October 2017, to examine alternative actions and environmental impacts associated with the long-term management and use of the Crater Trail. The NPS previously conducted public scoping on the project in 2014 and 2016. The informal trail was never designed or constructed; instead it was user-created over time. The trail was steep and severely eroded in sections and impacting the alpine tundra. It also bisected a prehistoric archeological site.

As part of the decision, park staff will remove the existing footbridge near the trailhead and place signs informing visitors of the closure. The abandoned trail surface will be stabilized and revegetated with native vegetation to help restore natural conditions. The parking area at the trailhead will remain to provide parking for the Milner Pass area.



Jeff
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Monday, February 19, 2018

USDA Secretary Announces Infrastructure Improvements for Forest System Trails

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the selection of 15 priority areas to help address the more than $300 million trail maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands.

Focused trail work in these areas, bolstered by partners and volunteers, is expected to help address needed infrastructure work so that trails managed by USDA Forest Service can be accessed and safely enjoyed by a wide variety of trails enthusiasts. About 25 percent of agency trails fit those standards while the condition of other trails lag behind.

“Our nation’s trails are a vital part of the American landscape and rural economies, and these priority areas are a major first step in USDA’s on-the-ground responsibility to make trails better and safer,” Secretary Perdue said. “The trail maintenance backlog was years in the making with a combination of factors contributing to the problem, including an outdated funding mechanism that routinely borrows money from programs, such as trails, to combat ongoing wildfires.

“This borrowing from within the agency interferes with other vital work, including ensuring that our more than 158,000 miles of well-loved trails provide access to public lands, do not harm natural resources, and, most importantly, provide safe passage for our users.”

This year the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act which established America’s system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails. A year focused on trails presents a pivotal opportunity for the Forest Service and partners to lead a shift toward a system of sustainable trails that are maintained through even broader shared stewardship.

The priority areas focus on trails that meet the requirements of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, which calls for the designation of up to 15 high priority areas where a lack of maintenance has led to reduced access to public land; increased risk of harm to natural resources; public safety hazards; impassable trails; or increased future trail maintenance costs. The act also requires the Forest Service to “significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance” and to aim to double trail maintenance accomplished by volunteers and partners.

Shared stewardship to achieve on-the-ground results has long been core to Forest Service’s approach to trail maintenance, as demonstrated by partner groups such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Each year, more than 84 million people get outside to explore, exercise and play on trails across national forests and grasslands and visits to these places help to generate 143,000 jobs annually through the recreation economy and more than $9 million in visitor spending.

The 15 national trail maintenance priority areas encompass large areas of land and each have committed partners to help get the work accomplished. The areas are:

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and Adjacent Lands, Montana: The area includes the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wilderness Areas and most of the Hungry Horse, Glacier View, and Swan Lake Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana on both sides of the Continental Divide. There are more than 3,200 miles of trails within the area, including about 1,700 wilderness miles.

• Methow Valley Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington: Methow Valley is a rural recreation-based community surrounded by more than 1.3 million acres of managed by the Forest Service. The area includes trails through the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Areas and more than 130 miles of National Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trails.

• Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Eagle Cap Wilderness, Idaho and Oregon: This area includes more than 1,200 miles of trail and the deepest river canyon in North America as well as the remote alpine terrain of the Seven Devil’s mountain range. The area also has 350,000 acres in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the largest in Oregon.

• Central Idaho Wilderness Complex, Idaho and Montana: The area includes about 9,600 miles of trails through the Frank Church River of No Return; Gospel Hump; most of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness areas; portions of the Payette, Salmon-Challis, Nez Perce and Clearwater national forests; and most of the surrounding lands. The trails inside and outside of wilderness form a network of routes that give access into some of the most remote country in the Lower 48.

• Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico: The trail’s 3,100 continuous miles follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, including more than 1,900 miles of trails across 20 national forests. The trail runs a diverse route with some sections in designated wilderness areas and others running through towns, providing those communities with the opportunity to boost the local economy with tourism dollars.

• Wyoming Forest Gateway Communities: Nearly 1,000 miles of trail stretch across the almost 10 million acres of agency-managed lands in Wyoming, which include six national forests and one national grassland. The contribution to the state’s outdoor recreation economy is therefore extremely important in the state.

• Northern California Wilderness, Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps: There are more than 700 miles of trails through these wilderness areas, which are characterized by very steep mountain terrain in fire-dependent ecosystems that are subject to heavy winter rainfall and/or snow. As such, they are subject to threat from flooding, washout, landslide and other erosion type events which, combined with wildfires, wash out trails and obstruct passage.

• Angeles National Forest, California: The area, which includes nearly 1,000 miles of trails, is immediately adjacent to the greater Los Angeles area where 15 million people live within 90 minutes and more than 3 million visit. Many of those visitors are young people from disadvantaged communities without local parks.

• Greater Prescott Trail System, Arizona: This 300-mile system of trails is a demonstration of work between the Forest Service and multiple partners. The system is integrated with all public lands at the federal, state and local level to generate a community-based trail system.

• Sedona Red Rock Ranger District Trail System, Coconino National Forest, Arizona: About 400 miles of trail provide a wide diversity of experiences with year-round trail opportunities, including world-class mountain biking in cooler months and streamside hiking in the heat of the summer.

Colorado Fourteeners: Each year, hundreds of thousands of hikers trek along over 200 miles of trail to access Colorado’s mountains that are higher than 14,000 feet. The Forest Service manages 48 of the 54 fourteeners, as they are commonly called.

• Superior National Forest, Minnesota: The more than 2,300 miles of trail on this forest have faced many catastrophic events, including large fires and a major wind storm downed millions of trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1999. A similar storm in 2016 reached winds up to 85 mph and toppled trees on several thousand acres and made the western 13 miles of Kekekabic Trail impassible.

• White Mountain National Forest Partner Complex, Maine and New Hampshire: Approximately 600 miles of non-motorized trails are maintained by partners. Another 600 miles of motorized snowmobile trails are adopted and maintained by several clubs. Much of that work centers on providing safe public access to the mountain and valleys of New Hampshire and Maine.

• Southern Appalachians Capacity Enhancement Model, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia: The more than 6,300 miles of trails in this sub region include some of the most heavily used trails in the country yet only 28 percent meet or exceed agency standards. The work required to bring these trails to standard will require every tool available from partner and volunteer skills to contracts with professional trail builders.

• Iditarod National Historic Trail Southern Trek, Alaska: In southcentral Alaska, the Southern Trek is in close proximity to more than half the state’s population and connects with one of the most heavily traveled highways in the state. The Chugach National Forest and partners are restoring and developing more than 180 miles of the trail system, connecting the communities of Seward, Moose Pass, Whittier, and Girdwood.



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

Monday, February 12, 2018

President Trump’s proposed $2.7 Billion Budget for NPS includes legislation to address $11.6 Billion in deferred maintenance

President Donald J. Trump has proposed a $2.7 billion budget for the National Park Service (NPS) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which includes legislation to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund that would help address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog in the National Park System. The fund would take new revenue from federal energy leasing and development and provide up to $18 billion to help pay for repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education funded schools.

"President Trump is absolutely right to call for a robust infrastructure plan that rebuilds our national parks, refuges, and Indian schools, and I look forward to helping him deliver on that historic mission," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Our Parks and Refuges are being loved to death, but the real heart break is the condition of the schools in Indian Country. We can and must do better for these young scholars. This is not a republican or democrat issue, this is an American issue, and the President and I are ready to work with absolutely anyone in Congress who is willing to get the work done."

"This budget reflects President Trump’s call for a robust infrastructure plan that rebuilds our national parks and public lands to ensure they may be enjoyed by future generations of Americans,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith. “Focusing on addressing the maintenance backlog now is critical to our core mission of preserving our parks and the world-class experience our visitors expect. The infrastructure proposals included in this budget offer innovative solutions to restoring our parks while fulfilling our duty to curb spending and in some cases make tough but necessary decisions to save tax dollars on other programs.”

Infrastructure – The National Park Service estimates that in FY 2017 there was more than $11.6 billion in backlogged maintenance and repair needs for the more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails and 24,000 buildings that service national park visitors. In 2017 330 million people visited the 417 NPS sites across the country. The NPS retired over $650 million in maintenance and repair work in FY 2017, but aging facilities, increased visitation, and resource constraints have kept the maintenance backlog between $11 billion and $12 billion since 2010.

In addition to the proposed Public Lands Infrastructure Fund proposal, the President’s budget provides $241 million to fund construction projects, equipment replacement, project planning and management, and special projects. This includes $157 million for specific line-item construction projects like reconstructing an unsafe cave trail at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and replacing the roof of the Eielson Visitor Center at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

The budget provides $99 million for repair and rehabilitation projects to address the deferred maintenance backlog as well as $113 million for cyclical maintenance projects to ensure maintenance is done in a timely manner and does not become “deferred” in the first place.

These discretionary fund sources are critical to help address the deferred maintenance backlog in the National Park System. Additionally, the recreation fee program allows the NPS to collect recreation fees at selected parks to improve visitor services and enhance the visitor experience. In 2017, NPS leveraged $107 million in recreation fees to address priority maintenance projects to improve the visitor experience. The budget includes a legislative proposal to permanently authorize the recreation fee program.

Park Operations – The FY 2019 NPS budget requests $2.4 billion for park operations, which includes $900,000 for NPS’s role in the Department of the Interior’s reorganization to common regional boundaries to improve service and efficiency.

State Assistance – The budget proposes a continued shift from discretionary funding to mandatory funding from oil and gas leases for state conservation grants. These grants provide funding to states to acquire open spaces and natural areas for outdoor recreation and access purposes, and develop outdoor recreation facilities. Permanent funding for these grants in 2019 is estimated to be $89 million.

NPS's FY 2019 Budget Justification is available here, and additional details on the President's FY 2019 Budget proposal are available on the Department of the Interior’s website.



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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Second Season For Avalanche Beacon Training Park At Rocky Mountain National Park

An avalanche beacon training park is located at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. This avalanche beacon park opened last winter, and is designed for back country 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.

For further park information please visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.



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

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Seasonal restrictions in Boulder Canyon to protect nesting birds of prey

To protect nesting golden eagles, the U.S. Forest Service will be implementing annual area closures in Boulder Canyon beginning Feb. 1, 2018. The closures include popular rock climbing spots at Eagle Rock, Blob Rock, Bitty Buttress and Security Risk in Boulder Canyon.

These areas are located along Colorado Highway 119, approximately 1.5 miles east of Boulder Falls. Effective through July 31, 2018, the closures protect a long-established golden eagle nesting territory. Happy Hour, Bihedral and Riviera will remain open as long as visitors stay out of the closed areas.

“These closures allow the birds to choose a nest site without human disturbance,” said Boulder District Ranger Angela Gee. “The chosen site remains closed until the eagles fledge in late July, but we typically reopen other parts of the area earlier.”

The Boulder Ranger District partners with the Boulder Climbing Community and the Access Fund to monitor nesting progress and to inform climbers about the importance of giving the eagles space to raise their young.

Federal and state laws prohibit disturbing any nesting bird of prey. Visitors can help protect wildlife by respecting all closures. Signs will be posted at key access points into the closed areas. Closure information will be available online at local climbing websites and at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/eagles.



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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Road Construction in Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument is partnering with the Federal Highway Administration for work in three areas along Rim Rock Drive between now and July 31, 2018. The project was awarded to Old Castle SW Group, Inc., a local Grand Junction company.

The closure of a section of Rim Rock Drive will be necessary, as the first part of the project involves completely replacing a small portion of the road between Highland View Overlook and Artist Point Overlook. The work will entail removing the road base in a section of road that continues to slump, creating challenging driving conditions for visitors. The closure will start January 29, 2018 and is expected to take a month. To allow the greatest use of the remainder of Rim Rock Drive and access to all hiking trails, bicyclists and passenger cars/trucks will be allowed to Artist Point and Highland View before being directed to turnaround. Oversize vehicles such as RVs, box trucks and vehicles towing trailers will be directed to turn around at 16 ½ Road and Independence Monument View Overlook.

The second part of the project will be to re-pave the east hill from the entrance near Grand Junction to the monument boundary on Glade Park Road/DS Road. This will start the beginning of March. During most of this work one driving lane will be open. Drivers will have delays of 15 – 30 minutes as pilot vehicles provide for safe access through the construction zones. Any complete closures of this section of Rim Rock Drive will be temporary and notification will be sent out two weeks in advance. Little Park Road is an alternate route for those traveling to and from Glade Park.

The final project covered by the contract will be to replace the guard rails throughout Rim Rock Drive. At this time the work will start late spring to early summer.

The goal of everyone associated with the projects is to accomplish the needed work in an efficient manner and provide for the safety of staff, community members and visitors.

Winter hours are now in effect at Colorado National Monument. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. For additional information please visit www.nps.gov/colm or call 970-858-3617, ext. 360.



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

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Visitation At Rocky Mountain National Park In 2017

Rocky Mountain National Park received 4,437,214 visitors in 2017. This was down slightly, 1.8 percent, from the park’s highest annual visitation in 2016, which was 4,517,584 visitors. This continues to represent a 40 percent increase in visitation since 2012.

Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics are reliably accurate estimates and help park managers see overall trends. Weather, especially during May and October, can change annual visitation significantly. The top ten busiest days in 2017 in order from first to tenth were: July 3, September 3, July 2, September 30, July 1, July 15, July 22, July 23, August 4 and September 2.

Rocky Mountain National Park celebrated its Centennial in 2015, followed by the National Park Service 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 is having on visitor and staff safety, resource protection, visitor experiences and operational capacity. This past summer and early fall, park staff continued to restrict vehicle access in three specific areas, the Bear Lake Road corridor, the Wild Basin area and the Alpine Visitor Center, when parking areas filled and heavy congestion warranted. This occurred from late June through September of 2017. These actions will again take place in 2018. Park staff are continuing to address day use for the long term and will be engaging stakeholders and the public on this planning effort later this year.

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. For more information on hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, please click here.



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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Glacier National Park: A Day Hikers Overview

"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."

- John Muir on his visit to Glacier National Park in the early-1890s
Encompassing more than a million acres, Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is home to some of the most beautiful alpine meadows, lakes, pristine forests, rugged peaks and glacially-carved valleys in the world. Its diverse habitats support nearly 70 species of mammals, including grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, wolverines, gray wolves and mountain lions. With more than 740 miles of trails leading to some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, Glacier is also a hiker's paradise.

Considering its massive size, most people divide the park into sections in order to focus on one or two areas at a time. The four most popular areas in the park are West Glacier and Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, Logan Pass, and Many Glacier. The following are a few suggestions for day hikes in each of these areas.

Two Medicine

Although not quite as popular as some of the other areas in Glacier, the Two Medicine Valley in the southeast corner of the park still offers some incredibly beautiful scenery. One of the best hikes in this area leads to Scenic Point. This rock outcropping, which sits above an alpine tundra meadow, offers panoramic views of much of the entire Two Medicine Valley. On a clear day you can even see the Sweet Grass Hills rising above the Great Plains roughly 90 miles away!

The most well-known backcountry hike in the Two Medicine area is Dawson Pass. Although this route usually gets most of the attention, I think the views from Pitamakan Pass are much more dramatic. From the knife-edge ridge you can see five cobalt-blue lakes on either side of you. Can’t decide on which one to hike? The two passes can be combined to create one epic day on the trail.

Many Glacier

One of the most popular destinations in the park is Many Glacier. Classic hikes such as Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier get most of the attention; however, there are two other destinations that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you’re seeking a degree of solitude in this stunning valley.

One of these is Ptarmigan Tunnel. The highlight of this hike is passing through a 240-foot tunnel that was cut through Ptarmigan Wall. The tunnel was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930's so that visitors on horseback could pass over into the remote Belly River area. After hiking all day in the Many Glacier Valley, walking to the other side of the tunnel is like walking into another world. The views from the other side are simply stunning.

The other destination, Cracker Lake, has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It has the most beautiful turquoise color you could ever imagine. If it were possible to ignore the magnificent scenery of the surrounding mountains, it would still be well worth the 12.6-mile roundtrip hike, just to see the amazing color of this lake. Cracker Lake’s deep shade of turquoise is the result of light refraction through its suspended load of glacial silt.

West Glacier / Lake McDonald

For more than a century one of the things that has made hiking in Glacier unique are its two Swiss-style backcountry chalets: Granite Park and Sperry. The Granite Park Chalet can be reached by taking the epic Highline Trail from Logan Pass, or by taking the 4.2-mile climb from The Loop area on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Unfortunately the historic Sperry Chalet dormitory building was severely burned during the summer of 2017. Fortunately the outer stone structure survived, and as of right now, the park is moving forward with the possibility of rebuilding the lodge. Moreover, the historic dining room survived, although it’s not clear as to whether that will reopen for lunch to day hikers in 2018, nor is it clear as to how far hikers will be able to travel along the Sperry Trail. If open, the 6.1-mile hike from the Lake McDonald Lodge passes through Glacier Basin where hikers will enjoy views of several waterfalls flowing hundreds of feet down the cliff walls that surround the alpine meadow.

From the same trailhead is the hike that leads to the historic Mt. Brown Fire Lookout. The trail climbs 4250 feet in only 5 miles, making it one of the toughest day hikes in the park. The elevation gain is similar to the amount gained on many of the trails leading to the summits of 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado. However, at a much lower elevation, hikers will have far more oxygen to breathe. From the lookout the views into the heart of Glacier are simply amazing.

For a much easier hike, but one that still includes stunning scenery that Glacier is famous for, be sure to check out Avalanche Lake.

Logan Pass

To see the best of what Glacier National Park has to offer you have to go deep into the high country. One of the most popular hikes in the park is the Highline Trail. In fact, this world famous hike should be on the bucket list of every self-respecting hiker! The views, the wildlife and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life. From Logan Pass, high adventure awaits from the start. Just beyond the trailhead hikers are forced to pass
over a six-foot wide ledge for roughly one-quarter of a mile. One false move and your next stop will be on the pavement of the Going-To-The-Sun Road - more than one hundred feet below. Fortunately the park has installed a hand cable along this stretch of the trail. My advice is to not let this deter you, as this is one of the most scenic trails in America. Almost 99% of the Highline passes through open country, so there's never any dull scenery on this hike. The trail is also famous for wildlife, especially bighorn sheep and mountain goats, which are frequently seen just off the side of the trail. Hikers will have the choice of taking the moderate hike to Haystack Pass, or the extremely strenuous hike up to an overlook along the crest of the Continental Divide which offers stunning views of Grinnell Glacier some one thousand feet below. This just might be the best view in the park.

Just a notch below the Highline Trail on the “awesome meter”, but far less crowded, is Piegan Pass. The trail offers mind-blowing views of mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows and an up-close view of the Garden Wall, a glacially-carved arĂȘte that marks the Continental Divide. Near Piegan Pass, and one of my absolute favorite areas in Glacier, is Preston Park. In the early summer, after the snow finally melts, this incredibly beautiful alpine meadow becomes a carpet of wildflowers.

For more information on all these hikes, and many others throughout the park, please visit HikinginGlacier.com.



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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Statistical Analysis on Fatalities While Climbing Longs Peak

In 2014 Outside Magazine ranked the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park as one of the 20 most dangerous hikes in the world. The article cited the peak's narrow ledges and its exposure to steep cliffs as some of the primary reasons as to why so many people have died while trying to reach its summit. Being located in a very popular national park, as well as being in close proximity to several major population centers, it's also one of the most popular fourteeners in Colorado. An estimated 7000 to 10,000 hikers and climbers reach the summit each year (compared to just 260 in 1915, and 623 in 1916). Although the standard route isn't a technical climb, as Outside points out, it's still relatively easy for inexperienced climbers to get in over their heads. All of this is a recipe for disaster, as many people have fatally realized.

Roughly five years ago I published a blog that reviewed some basic statistics on the people who have died while climbing Longs Peak. That post was based on a list of all deaths on the mountain, which was published in the Summer 2011 edition of Trail & Timberline, a quarterly publication from the Colorado Mountain Club. Since the publication of that article, and my blog post, the peak has claimed several more lives. In this blog post I wanted to provide an updated review of the general statistics, offer a few observations into recent trends, and see if there's anything prospective climbers can learn from them.

Between 1915, the year Rocky Mountain was established as a national park, and 2017, a total of 374 park visitors have died as a result of accidents, car crashes, heart attacks and various other reasons. Included within those statistics are 67 fatalities associated with climbing Longs Peak. The following are a few observations from the data collected by the national park:

* Among the 67 fatalities recorded on Longs Peak between 1915 and 2017, only 4 were women. This may have a lot to do with the ratio of men versus women climbing the mountain, but could also suggest that women take less risks or are much more careful. Unfortunately there's not enough data to make any solid conclusions regarding this. Interestingly, the first person to die on the mountain was a woman. After successfully reaching the summit on September 23, 1884, Carrie J. Welton died of exhaustion and hypothermia while descending the Keyhole Route. Ms. Welton also has the distinction of being the first known person to die within the boundaries of the future national park. No woman has died on the mountain since 1972.

* The average age for those that have died while climbing the mountain is 32.3 years of age. The oldest person to die was 75 when he slipped on ice along the Narrows section of the Keyhole Route. Throughout the lifespan of the park there have been two 16-year-olds that have died on the peak; one in 1932, and the other in 1980. A total of 10 victims were teenagers, which represents roughly 15% of all deaths. Roughly 58% of all victims were below the age of 30.

* Interestingly, however, during the eleven years between 1999 and 2009, the average age among the 11 climbers that died during that time period jumped to 47. Since then, the average age among the 10 victims that have died after 2009 has returned to 32.6 years of age, which is roughly equal to the long-term average.

* So far, during the second decade of the 21st Century, 10 fatalities have been recorded. However, the deadliest decade was the 1970s when the mountain claimed the lives of 13 people.

* Just over 70% of all deaths were the result of a fall - most of them un-roped.

* The technical East Face route has witnessed 14 deaths over the lifespan of the park. The popular Keyhole Route, however, has reported the most fatalities during that same time period. Nineteen people have lost their lives while climbing above the Keyhole. Eight of those deaths have occurred since 2009. Additionally, three other people have died at or near the Keyhole, while another died of hypothermia at the Boulder Field. An additional 4 other people have died while hiking on the Longs Peak Trail (below the Boulder Field) - all were heart attack victims.

* Both the Homestretch and the Ledges on the Keyhole Route have seen the most fatalities of any one location on the mountain. Both have recorded 6 deaths since 1915.

* 20 people have died on the mountain for reasons other than falls, including 7 from hypothermia, 6 from heart attacks, 3 by lightning, and 3 from exhaustion and exposure. Two people have died as a result of suicide, including one person who ingested anti-freeze at the Narrows in 1979. The young man was reported to be depressed over inadequate scores on his medical school entrance exams.

* Perhaps the most famous person to perish on the mountain was Agnes Vaille. On January 25, 1925, Ms. Vaille became the first woman to climb Longs Peak in the winter. While making her descent along the Keyhole Route, Vaille slipped and fell about 150 feet. Spent with fatigue, Vaille insisted she needed a short nap, but froze to death before her hiking partner could bring back help. Today, just below the Keyhole, is the Agnes Vaille Shelter. Built as a memorial to Ms. Vaille, the rock shelter also serves as a refuge for hikers and climbers in need.

* One other notable death occurred in 1889 - prior to the park's establishment. Frank Stryker was descending down the Homestretch on the Keyhole Route (according to Death, Daring & Disaster he was still ascending) when a loaded pistol fell out of his pocket and discharged into his neck. You could say there was a bit of karma involved. The 28-year-old was taking pleasure in launching large boulders down the mountain. The newspaper account at the time said "he announced his intentions of sending off a particularly huge stone" just before the accident occurred. The man continued to cling to life for ten more hours while his companions attempted to transport him down the mountain on a makeshift litter.

If you're considering a hike to the Keyhole or Chasm Lake, or even a climb to the summit of Longs Peak, it's always a good idea to know your limits and to respect the mountain. The park website warns that the Keyhole Route "is not a 'walk in the park.' This is much more than a hike. This is a climb, a classic mountaineering route that should not be underestimated."

For more information on hiking to Chasm Lake, please click here.

For more information on hiking to the Keyhole, please click here.






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