Monday, December 30, 2019

All of Colorado’s state parks will move to camping reservation system in January

Starting in 2020, it will be easier than ever for visitors to reserve a campsite, cabin, yurt, picnic area, or other facilities at Colorado’s 41 state parks. Effective Jan. 1, all of Colorado’s state parks will require campers to book campsites within the Colorado Parks and Wildlife purchasing system which now provides the flexibility to book anywhere from six months in advance up until the moment they arrive at the park and find an available site.

This program was tested successfully at five parks in 2018 and 17 more parks in 2019. Using the system, campers can reserve a site 24/7 and no longer have a closed window that prevents them from reserving a site in the three days ahead of a planned stay. Reserving a site is now as easy as logging into from your computer or smartphone, or by calling 800-244-5613.

Park managers already using the booking system reported success with eliminating the three-day reservation window and switching to a system where campers can reserve their own spots via phone or online the day they plan to arrive at the park or up to six months in advance.

The ability to reserve a site on the same day eliminates the need for campers to gamble on a first-come, first-served spot, only to arrive at the park and find that there aren’t any spots available.

What if someone occupies a site they haven't reserved?
Campers who occupy a campsite without a reservation will be subject to a citation and/or eviction. All campers must reserve a campsite prior to occupying the site. This can be done 24/7 at or by calling 1-800-244-5613.

Please note: Cellular coverage at some state parks (like Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Golden Gate Canyon, State Forest and Highline) can range from spotty to non-existent. CPW advises those interested in camping at these parks to make their reservations online or by phone before arrival.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Colorado First Day Hikes 2020

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is ringing in the new year once again by participating in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, encouraging people to Live Life Outside in 2020. More than 30 events have been slated for Jan. 1, 2020 at state parks across Colorado, providing opportunities for people of all ages to get outdoors.

“Our First Day Hike events have become increasingly popular over the years, and with good reason,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “They’re a great opportunity to spend some time out in nature with friends and family and mark a fresh start to the new year. What better way to celebrate than with a nice park stroll and a hot cup of cocoa? We’ll see you out there!”

Coloradans can find nearby First Day Hikes of varying distances and levels of difficulty by visiting the Colorado Parks and Wildlife First Day Hikes web page. All hikes are free of charge, but a valid park pass is required.

Whether discovering the landscape with an experienced Naturalist guide on an organized hike, or viewing and photographing wildlife on a self-led hike, First Day Hike participants are sure to start the new year on a positive note. Hikers, bikers and horseback riders alike can enjoy scenic views, warm beverages and snacks, and have the opportunity to borrow snowshoes, fat bikes and ice fishing equipment at some parks.

With snow likely on the ground at many state parks at the beginning of the new year, visitors can also anticipate sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating and cross-country skiing opportunities. Warmer weather at other parks may create muddy conditions, so please respect any trail closures or other posted notices. CPW reminds visitors to dress for the weather by dressing in layers, and to bring plenty of water and snacks.

First Day Hikes is a national program that was created more than 25 years ago to encourage healthy lifestyles and stewardship of natural resources through outdoor recreation. According to the National Association of State Park Directors, more than 72,700 people across the country joined guided First Day Hikes in 2019, collectively hiking over 150,280 miles.

Start 2020 on the right foot by spending time outside. Whatever the outdoor activity, be sure to share your state park adventures with us on social media by using #FirstDayHikes.

Whether planning to participate in a First Day Hike, reserving a spring campsite or scheduling hunter education courses, you can start your 2020 outdoor adventures by visiting

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, December 26, 2019

White Sands Re-designated as a National Park

On Friday, December 20, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which includes a provision that re-designates White Sands National Monument as White Sands National Park, making it the 62nd designated national park in the National Park System.

“Our staff are very excited for White Sands to be recognized as a national park and to reintroduce ourselves to the American public,” said White Sands National Park Superintendent Marie Sauter. “We are so appreciative of our partners, local communities, and congressional leaders who made this achievement possible and look forward to continued success working together.”

White Sands National Monument was established on January 18, 1933, by President Herbert Hoover to preserve, “the white sands and additional features of scenic, scientific, and educational interest.” Today’s re-designation recognizes the added significance of the park for its natural and cultural resources. In addition to containing the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, including gypsum hearthmounds found nowhere else on earth, the park is home to the globe’s largest collection of Ice-Age fossilized footprints and tells more than 10,000 years of human presence, all while providing memorable recreational opportunities.

Just so happens that my wife and I visited the park back in April. Here are a few photos from that visit.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 23, 2019

Last-minute gift idea - a virtual stocking stuffer

Believe it or not, though Christmas is now only two days away, you still have time to order last-minute stocking stuffers from Amazon. If you're looking for one last gift for that happy hiker in your life, there's still plenty of time to download the Kindle e-book version of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is a great gift idea for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Thank you very much, and hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, December 20, 2019

USDA Forest Service surpasses goals and breaks records in 2019

The USDA Forest Service announced today that 2019 was a historic year for America’s national forests and grasslands.

“In 2019, through Shared Stewardship agreements we forged new partnerships and built on existing ones to better collaborate and share decision space with states, partners and tribes,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “We also opened hundreds of thousands of acres of national forests to visitor access and sold more timber in this year than we have in any of the past 21 years, providing a sustainable flow of forest products and supporting rural economies.”

Creating healthy, productive forests and supporting rural economies

The Forest Service surpassed expectations and sold nearly 3.3 billion board feet of timber in 2019—75 million board feet more than the 20-year high set in 2018. The agency also improved forest conditions and reduced wildfire risk on over 4 million acres through timber harvest, removing hazardous fuels like dead and downed trees, and combating disease, insect and invasive species infestations.

Timber harvest volume from projects under the Good Neighbor Authority, more than tripled in 2019 from 22 to 89 million board feet. This authority allows the Forest Service to enter into agreements with state forestry agencies to perform restoration work to improve health and productivity on national forests and grasslands. To date, projects under this authority have taken place in 38 states.

Sharing stewardship responsibilities and being better neighbors

So far, 12 states and the Western Governors Association have signed on to work alongside the Forest Service to set landscape-scale goals, as well as share resources and expertise. These Shared Stewardship agreements allow the Forest Service to better work with partners to address challenges such as wildfire, insect and disease infestations and improve forest and watershed conditions while adapting to user needs. Participating states include Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, a combined effort of the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, treated 100,000 acres in 2019 to improve forest health where public and private lands meet and to protect nearby communities from wildfire.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service partnered to set up a $4 million grant program to improve watersheds and reduce wildfire risk.

The Forest Service launched a community-based prototype wildfire risk mapping tool in Washington State. This tool is the first of its kind and allows local, state and federal agencies to fight fire where it matters most and to build fire-adapted communities more strategically and collaboratively. A nationwide map based on the prototype will be available in 2020.

Increasing access and improving recreation experiences

More than 5.2 million hours of work were logged in 2019 as part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a private-public partnership that engages more than 25,000 returning veterans and young Americans each year to strengthen America’s infrastructure and boost local economies. Participants helped to plant trees, reduce wildfire risk and improve forest conditions through vegetation management and hazardous fuels reduction projects, valued at $128 million.

Nearly 560,000 acres of national forests and grasslands were opened for access in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation as part of their “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt” initiative.

Access and recreation opportunities were improved through the National Forest and Grasslands Explorer and Digital pass applications. The Explorer app lets visitors know where to find points of interest on national forests and grasslands and how best to explore them. The Digital Pass app was developed in cooperation with to make purchasing day passes easier by selling them online.

“2019 was a banner year for us,” added Chief Christiansen. “Next year, we will continue to build on these successes to improve conditions on America’s national forests and grasslands to ensure they are healthier, more resilient and more productive.” “We will keep building on the partnerships that make these successes possible and commit to increasing access to better connect people to their natural resources, so these national treasures endure for generations to come.”

For more information about the Forest Service visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Hiking books make great last-minute gifts!

Christmas is just one week away. The good news is that you still have time to order last-minute gifts from Amazon and have them delivered to your home in time for Christmas - and you won't have to fight the crowds or the traffic! To help with last-minute gift ideas, I wanted to let you know that the paperback version of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, is still available at 50% off the regular price. You can purchase the book on Amazon right now for only $9.95 (regular price is $18.95).

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Winter Activities in Rocky Mountain National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other info:

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

* Current Bear Lake Snow Conditions

* Overall Trail Conditions

* Colorado Avalanche Information

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this winter, or anytime of the year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Colorado Wolf Initiative Gets 200,000 Signatures for 2020 Ballot Placement

Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund today submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state to place restoration of wolves on Colorado’s 2020 statewide ballot (read the full text of the initiative here).

“Colorado voters have made clear once again that they enthusiastically support restoring the natural balance to Colorado’s wild public lands,” said Rob Edward, president of RMWAF, the lead organization behind the initiative. “The enthusiastic response from voters all across the state to this initiative is not a surprise, since poll after poll during the past 20 years has shown that Coloradans want to bring back the wolf.”

Initiative 107 instructs Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop, after public input, a science-based plan for reintroducing wolves to western Colorado by 2023. It also directs the Colorado General Assembly to develop a means to compensate ranchers for the small number of livestock that could potentially be lost to wolves each year. If successful, this would be the first time that voters could directly cause the reintroduction of an endangered species.

“A recent poll commissioned by the RMWAF showed over two-thirds of Coloradans, including majorities in the Western Slope as well as the Front Range, support reintroduction,” Edward said. "This wolf reintroduction initiative is the groundbreaking manifestation of that public support, marrying wildlife conservation and direct democracy.”

Dr. Joanna Lambert, professor of environmental studies and evolutionary ecology at the University of Colorado, underscored the fact that Initiative 107 has national significance, given that over 70% of western Colorado belongs to the American public. “In November 2020 Colorado will show the nation what stewardship looks like,” Lambert said. “Delivering these signatures is the first step toward restoring an interconnected population of wolves that stretches from the High Arctic southward to the Mexican border. Colorado will be the last of the Rocky Mountain states to bring wolves back to their historic range. Many years of scientific inquiry and public involvement form the foundation of this initiative and direct democracy will give that science a voice.”

“Colorado needs wolves,” said Eric Washburn, a big-game hunter who lives in Steamboat Springs. “These magnificent animals will make Colorado mountain ecosystems healthier and more balanced, just like they have done in Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Elk and wolves coexist quite well in the northern Rockies, and over the last 25 years, elk populations have grown along with the wolves. Moreover, as a hunter who harvested a CWD-infected deer in Colorado just last year, I am extremely concerned that the absence of wolves is allowing diseases like CWD to spread. When you look around the Rocky Mountains, you don’t find CWD-infected deer and elk where you find populations of wolves. We need that kind of help in Colorado now.”

The wolf reintroduction initiative is supported by a large coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.

“Volunteers, both on the Western Slope and Colorado's Front Range, have found overwhelming enthusiasm for restoring wolves to Colorado,” said Delia Malone, a Redstone resident and ecologist with the Sierra Club. “It is tremendously inspiring to be part of such a visionary wildlife restoration campaign. We’re looking forward to helping wolves restore the balance to Colorado’s public lands.”

“In the 25 years since wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rockies, they have indeed helped restore the natural balance while impacts to ranching and hunting have been minimal,” said Caitlin Cattelino, a Denver-based national outreach representative at Defenders of Wildlife. “In fact, elk populations in the Northern Rockies are as healthy as they’ve ever been in the last century. We can expect the same results here.”

“Many Colorado voters who signed these petitions understand that wolves help other species thrive,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves keep elk moving, which spares streamside plants, and they provide leftover meals for scavenging eagles, bears and wolverines. It’s time to return these amazing animals to Colorado’s wild places.”

“These 200,000 signatures represent just a small sample of the overwhelming majority of Coloradans who support bringing wolves back to our state,” said Sam Gilchrist, a Colorado resident and western campaigns director for the NRDC Action Fund.

“Whether we’re hikers or hunters, from Denver or Durango or somewhere in between, we’re united in our commitment to restoring the wildlife that makes Colorado home.”

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Colorado National Monument Fees Will Increase January 1, 2020

Entrance fees at Colorado National Monument will increase five dollars beginning January 1, 2020. Entrance fees for private vehicles will be $25, motorcycles will be $20 and individuals will be $15 for a seven day pass. The annual Colorado National Monument pass will be $45. The Saddlehorn campground fee will remain $22 per night. This entrance fee increase was mandated by the Department of Interior in 2018, but was delayed due to a previous increase in the entrance fees.

For those interested in buying the annual Colorado National Monument pass. If it is purchased prior to December 31, 2019, it will be $40 and valid through December 31, 2020. It can be purchased at or in person at the park entrances or the visitor center (only in the winter).

Superintendent Nathan Souder shared, “Providing an outstanding visitor experience is a top priority for our team at the Monument. The increased revenue from entrance fees will provide additional funding that will help us greatly in meeting our priority by improving infrastructure and addressing maintenance needs that have a direct connection to our guests.”

Federal law requires that recreational fees charged on public lands be used for direct visitor benefits. In recent years, projects funded by recreational fees have included trail work on the Devil’s Kitchen and Liberty Cap trails, and new railings at overlooks such as Artist Point. This next year, planned projects include continued work on Liberty Cap Trail, a start to trail work on Upper Monument Canyon Trail, Otto’s Trail and Coke Ovens Trail.

Entrances fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or to holders of Access, Military and 4th Grade passes. Prices for the Interagency Annual ($80) and Senior (Annual $20 - Lifetime $80) Passes will not change and those passes will still be available for purchase at the park.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 7, 2019

National Park Service seeks public input to increase access to national park lands

The National Park Service (NPS) today announced it is seeking the public’s assistance to develop a list of national park lands that would benefit from new or increased access routes. This effort advances the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (S.47), which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2019.

“Increasing the public’s awareness and access to the more than 85 million acres managed by the National Park Service is one of our top priorities,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “We’re looking forward to working with the public, partners, and stakeholders to identify areas with no or restricted access to national park areas and collaborate with landowners to establish avenues for public enjoyment of these lands.”

Section 4105 of the Dingell Act instructs the NPS and other federal land management agencies to develop a priority list of lands with no or restricted public access that meet a set requirements and considerations. In the coming months, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also seek the public’s input to nominate lands within their jurisdictions under similar criteria.

NPS’s final priority list will be posted online by March 12, 2020, and updated biennially thereafter for 10 years.

Share Your Recommendations

Public comments will be accepted through January 4, 2020, via the NPS’s Planning, Environmental and Public Comments website at,

* Nominated lands must meet the following requirements and considerations:

* Must be managed by the NPS.

* Must be at least 640 contiguous acres.

* Must have significantly restricted or no public access.

* Potential for public access and the likelihood of resolving the absence of, or restriction to public access, are among other criteria for consideration.

For example, if a sizable parcel of NPS land is completely surrounded by privately owned land with no or restricted public access, the NPS may consider adding this to the priority list and begin working with states, local governments, nonprofit organizations and/or property owners to acquire land or other means of access to the NPS land, ensuring its long-term protection.

Recommendations must include the following information:

* Location of the land or parcel.

* Total acreage of the land or parcel.

* Description or narrative about the land’s restricted or complete lack of access.

* Any additional information the NPS should consider when determining if the land should be on the NPS’s priority list.

For additional information and a full list of required criteria for consideration as specified by the Dingell Act, visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Grand Teton National Park

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

1) Cascade Canyon

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

2) Lake Views

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

3) Wildlife

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

4) Photography

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

5) Snake River Float Trip

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

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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 2, 2019

Audubon Invites You to Celebrate 120 Years of the Annual Christmas Bird Count

For the 120th year, the National Audubon Society is organizing its annual Christmas Bird Count. Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere. The twelve decades’ worth of data collected by participants continue to contribute to one of only two large existing pools of information notifying ornithologists and conservation biologists about what conservation action is required to protect birds and the places they need.

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations directly to Audubon. Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total numbers to provide a clear idea of the health of that particular population.

When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. For example, earlier this year, Science published a study using decades of Audubon Christmas Bird Count data to describe a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Christmas Bird Count data have been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles.

A brand new feature for this year’s 120th Christmas Bird Count will be “CBC Live”, a crowd-sourced, hemisphere-wide storytelling function using Esri mapping software. This “story-map” will ask users to upload a photo taken during their Christmas Bird Count as well as a short anecdote to paint a global picture of the Christmas Bird Count in real time.

Last year, the 119th Christmas Bird Count included a record-setting 2615 count circles, with 1975 counts in the United States, 460 in Canada and 180 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands. This was the ninth-straight year of record-breaking counts. In total, 79,425 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up over 48 million birds representing more than 2600 species different species—more than one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna. Approximately 5 percent of the North American landmass was surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count. Last year included two new species for the Christmas Bird Count list of birds seen in the United States: a Little Stint in San Diego and a Great Black Hawk in Portland, Maine.

The Northern Bobwhite, the only native quail in the eastern United States, continues its downward spiral. This species has essentially disappeared from the Northeast and faces massive declines due to loss of shrubland habitat exacerbated by increased droughts. On the flip side, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Purple Finches staged major irruptions southward during the 119th CBC.

Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, Dr. Frank M. Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which evolved into Audubon magazine -- proposed a new holiday tradition that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. So began the Christmas Bird Count. 120 years later, the tradition continues and still manages to bring out the best in people and contribute valuable data to the worldwide scientific community.

To sign up for a Christmas Bird Count and ensure your bird count data make it into the official Audubon database, please find the circle nearest you and register with your local Christmas Bird Count compiler on this map here. All Christmas Bird Count data must be submitted through the official compiler to be added to the long-running census.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count near you visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

“History of hiking” is now 50% off!

Beginning today, and continuing through Christmas, the paperback version of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, is available at 50% off the regular price. Hiking enthusiasts can purchase the book on Amazon right now for only $9.95 (regular price is $18.95).

Additionally, the Kindle e-book version of my book will be sold for just $4.99 beginning today, and will continue through Black Friday and Cyber Weekend. This special price will be offered for one week only, from November 27th through December 3rd.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is an outstanding gift idea for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 25, 2019

Is June a good time to visit Glacier National Park?

Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but June is really a great time to visit Glacier National Park! Obviously July and August are by far the most popular months for visiting the park; however, if you wish to avoid the crowds, you may want to check-out the month of June. Sure, the Going-to-the-Sun Road likely won't be open all the way to Logan Pass until later in the month, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to do. In fact, all of the services outside of the park, as well as almost all of the concessioners within the park, will already be open.

So why visit in June? For one, June is an absolutely great time for observing wildflowers. Whitewater rafting is also at its best during this time period. Other popular activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and as a result of far fewer motorists on park roads, June is also a great time for cycling. And there's nothing like taking a cruise on one of Glacier's lakes to soak in the splendid beauty of the snow-capped mountains. For more information on many of these activities and others, please visit our Thing To Do page.

Although the nights are still relatively cool, temperatures usually reach into the 70s during the day, which makes for nearly perfect hiking conditions. While trails in the higher elevations will still be closed due to snow, there are still a ton of great hiking opportunities around the park. Here are just a couple of suggestions (many of which are normally part of the June ranger-led hikes program - which, by the way, are free):

West Glacier / Lake McDonald Area:

* Avalanche Lake

* Apgar Lookout

* Johns Lake Loop

* Rocky Point Nature Trail

* Upper McDonald Creek Trail

St. Mary Area:

* Beaver Pond Loop

* St. Mary Area Waterfalls Hike

* Sun Point Nature Trail

* Virginia Falls

Many Glacier Area:

* Apikuni Falls

* Belly River Ranger Station

* Grinnell Lake

* Lake Josephine Loop

* Redrock Falls

* Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail

Two Medicine Area:

* Aster Park Overlook

* Rockwell Falls

* Running Eagle Falls

And in case you need one more reason to visit in June: rates on accommodations are much lower when compared to peak season! If you do plan to visit Glacier this June, or anytime throughout the year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Turn Black Friday Into Fresh Air Friday With Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Reclaim Nov. 29 by avoiding the shopping hysteria and getting outside for a breath of fresh air! On Fresh Air Friday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife welcomes visitors to any of our 41 state parks by providing free entry in what has become an annual tradition of encouraging Coloradans to get out and give thanks.

“Studies have shown that spending time outside, no matter the activity, is great for your health,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We’re actively encouraging folks to enjoy their natural surroundings with family and friends rather than participate in the usual shopping frenzy. After all, the Colorado outdoors are the best deal out there.”

However you decide to get outdoors this Fresh Air Friday, CPW has the tools to make it an easy, stress-free experience for the whole family. Discover your new favorite state park with our state park finder, plan a short stroll or thorough post-Thanksgiving workout with our free COTREX trails app, find a secluded fishing spot with our CPW Fishing App, or have fun with the kids with Generation Wild’s 100 Things to Do Before You’re 12 list.

To help conserve our natural spaces and keep them wild while recreating, please be sure to follow Leave No Trace Principles. Be Colo-Ready with common-sense practices such as sticking to the trails and packing out all trash (including peels and cores), visiting less-visited and off-peak destinations, and keeping wildlife at a safe distance (use your zoom for photos and never feed wildlife!).

Several Colorado state parks will also have hikes planned for the day for those looking to walk off that Thanksgiving dinner and to connect with others in nature. Plan your visit to:

* Ridgway
* Chatfield
* Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
* Mueller
* Barr Lake

For more details on these activities, or to get more ideas on how to Live Life Outside, visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, November 22, 2019

Young Gulch Trail Open; Grand Reopening Scheduled

After more than seven years, the Young Gulch Trail, located on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District in the Poudre Canyon, is back open to the public thanks to amazing volunteers and dedicated Forest Service staff.

The Young Gulch Trail was first impacted by the High Park Fire in 2012. Volunteers worked to get the trail reopened a year later only to have it even more dramatically impacted by the September 2013 Flood just days later. Most of the trail was washed away by these monumental rains.

Over the years many organizations, including Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, Overland Mountain Bike Association, Colorado Addicted Trailbuilders Society and others, came together to design and reconstruct this incredibly popular trail in a more sustainable, resilient way. This includes reducing the number of stream crossings from 44 down to 26. In 2019 alone, volunteers provided 10,290 hours of their time and dedication for the final push to get the trail opened to the public before the end of the calendar year.

Along with Forest Service time and funding, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the National Forest Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, Overland Mountain Bike Association, REI, Odell Brewing, and Mishawaka Amphitheatre provided funding and in-kind donations over the last few years.

The Forest Service and our many partners will gather together for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 13, 2019, at 1 p.m. Everyone is invited to come celebrate this great achievement of teamwork and perseverance.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 21, 2019

“History of hiking” 50% off

As you're likely already aware, Black Friday is next week. As a result, I wanted to let you all know that my book will be on sale throughout the upcoming holiday season. Beginning today, and continuing through Christmas, the paperback version of Ramble On: A History of Hiking will be sold at 50% off the regular price. During this timeframe hiking enthusiasts will be able to purchase the book on Amazon for only $9.95 (regular price is $18.95).

Additionally, the Kindle e-book version of my book will be sold for just $4.99 on Black Friday and throughout Cyber Weekend. This special price will be offered for one week only, from November 27th through December 3rd.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is an outstanding gift idea for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Black-footed ferrets, North America's rarest mammal, released on private ranch as CPW works to rescue endangered species twice thought to be extinct

Fourteen endangered black-footed ferrets were released in a prairie dog colony on the Walker Ranch on Monday as part of a decades-long effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other partners to restore the rarest mammal in North America.

The black-footed ferret is the only ferret species native to North America and twice was thought to be extinct due to habitat loss, widespread poisoning of prairie dog colonies and disease.

The last official record of a wild black-footed ferret in Colorado was near Buena Vista in 1943. Then in 1979, the last known black-footed ferret in captivity died, and the only ferret species native to the U.S. was believed to be lost. Since 1967, black-footed ferrets have been listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

But in 1981, a small colony, or remnant population, of 129 ferrets was discovered on a ranch near Meeteetse, Wyo. This population, however, soon experienced significant declines due to canine distemper and sylvatic plague. So in 1986, the USFWS captured the remaining 18 wild ferrets for a captive breeding and species preservation program. Those ferrets became the seed population for all subsequent captive breeding and recovery efforts.

CPW joined forces with USFWS, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore black-footed ferrets to their native range. Today, Colorado is one of eight states involved with the recovery of the species through reintroduction.

Ferrets were first reintroduced to Colorado in 2001 at Wolf Creek, north of Rangely. After dozens were released over a several years, that site succumbed to a plague outbreak and collapsed by 2010.

An Eastern Plains reintroduction strategy began in 2013 with the release of 300 ferrets to six Colorado sites. In order to be released, individuals have to display their ability to survive in the wild. This training and preparation takes place at the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Larimer County.

So far, 254 black-footed ferrets have been released on the private lands enrolled in the Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) program. Most were raised in captivity at special breeding facilities. The restoration of any threatened or endangered wildlife species is deemed successful when release animals begin reproducing on their own in the wild. Black-footed ferrets mate in early spring and give birth to a litter of three or four mouse-sized kits after a seven-week gestation period.

“Our goal is to create conditions where we have a self-sustaining population of ferrets and captive-born ferret releases are no longer necessary,” said Ed Schmal, CPW conservation biologist. “To do this, we need to maintain healthy prairie dog populations and implement annual plague management.”

CPW biologists can’t know for sure whether black-footed ferret reintroduction efforts can be deemed a “success.” But biologists found a hopeful sign with the first wild-born kit, or baby ferret, in 2015 and more after that.

Much of CPW’s current work focuses on plague management to ensure continued persistence of the ferrets and prairie dogs they rely on. Continued ferret reintroduction efforts seek to increase genetic diversity at each site.

On Monday, CPW released 10 juvenile and 4 adult ferrets into prairie dog burrows on the nearly 80,000-acre Walker Ranch outside Pueblo West. The ranch is owned by Gary and Georgia Walker, who are pioneers in creating safe harbors for ferrets on private land.

“Gary and Georgia were the first private landowners in Colorado to release black-footed ferrets,” Schmal said of the critical role played by the Walkers in hosting ferrets. “Their unwavering support for the recovery of this species is a testament to their conservation ethic and commitment to wildlife. We couldn’t do this work without cattle ranchers like the Walkers.”

Since 2013, 107 black-footed ferrets have been released on Walker Ranch by CPW biologists, who have invested extensive time and effort to monitor the colonies and distribute plague vaccine across the vast colonies in hopes of protecting the black-footed ferrets and the prairie dogs, which is their primary source of food and shelter.

For more information, visit these websites:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, November 17, 2019

National Take a Hike Day

Did you know that today is “National Take a Hike Day”? Each year, on November 17th, National Take a Hike Day is observed by hikers across the country. Though the origins of this day seem to be a little murky, it appears that it may have been started by the American Hiking Society. Whenever and whoever started the day, hiking has its roots firmly planted in many of the same societal trends that shaped our country. According to the National Today website:
Hiking, while a major part of our culture today, wasn’t always the ubiquitous weekend warrior activity is today. Before Walden, Thoreau, and John Muir there was Romantic and Transcendentalism movement, art and cultural shifts to the natural order and time spent being outside. A reaction to the Industrial Revolution, train schedules, 90 hour work weeks and more.

The idea of taking a hike turned romantic and peaceful.
If you can’t actually make it onto a trail today, you can still download a copy of my book, “Ramble On: A History of Hiking,” to learn about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes, which will help to explain why today is now recognized as a "national holiday".

Happy Take a Hike Day!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

National Park Service Announces Entrance Fee-Free Days for 2020

The National Park Service will have five entrance fee-free days in 2020. On each of these significant days of celebration or commemoration, all national parks will waive entrance fees.

The dates for 2020 are:

● Monday, January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

● Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day

● Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday

● Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day

● Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“Across the country, more than 400 national parks preserve significant natural and cultural areas, each one an important piece of our national identity and heritage,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “Free entrance days serve as additional motivation for people to get outside and enjoy these places of inspiration and recreation.”

Since their inception almost 150 years ago, national parks have protected resources and provided places for public health and enjoyment. With at least one site in every state, the National Park Service’s 419 parks, recreation areas, cultural sites, rivers, and trails are accessible destinations that supply benefits for overall physical and mental well being. Time spent in nature reduces stress and blood pressure and often leads to lifestyle choices that include more exercise and better nutrition. Paddling, bicycling, walking, fishing, star gazing, and camping are just some of the many memorable and healthful recreational activities available in national parks.

Veterans Day on November 11 is the only remaining fee-free day in 2019. Out of the 419 National Park Service sites, 110 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35. The other 309 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, active duty members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2020 include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, November 8, 2019

Recruiting Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers for 2019/2020 Season

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest is looking for volunteers to ski or snowshoe this winter in the busy Cameron Pass area, where 32 miles of trail can see over 300 skiers a day on a weekend.

This popular area includes trails that border Highway 14 between Chambers Lake and Cameron Pass. The area receives enough snow to ski before many others and snow often remains after other areas have lost their snow cover. For this reason, the number of winter recreationists at Cameron Pass continues to grow.

Volunteers ski or snowshoe “with a purpose,” helping the Forest Service educate winter visitors and provide winter use statistics. To volunteer, participants take part in a minimum of four days patrolling and attend Forest Service-provided training. The kick-off meeting is Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, in Fort Collins. The required classroom training is Dec. 12 from 6-9 p.m. and the required field training is Dec. 14 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, call Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or email

Along with a general introduction to the program, the kick-off also introduces potential new members to many of our partner-organizations, such as Jax Outdoor Gear and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and to some of the returning Nordic rangers.

The Cameron Pass Nordic Ranger program began in 1992. Volunteers assist the Forest Service by skiing or snowshoeing area trails to provide safety, trail, and low-impact backcountry use information to winter enthusiasts; help maintain area ski trails and trailheads for safety; and gather visitor use information to aid in Forest Service planning. Some of the Nordic rangers work as a winter trail crew to help keep the trails cleared of downed trees and limbs, install signs, and shovel paths to the restrooms. Last year these great volunteers provided more than 2,400 hours of service!

Many of the trails are in the Rawah and Neota Wilderness areas, where routes can be challenging. Backcountry skiing also includes risks inherent with winter conditions in the mountains, including extreme cold. These are some of the key reasons volunteers in the area are so valuable to its many users, especially those with little winter sports experience.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking