Monday, September 30, 2019

Over 70 miles of Medicine Bow National Forest trails cleared this past summer; wilderness solitude monitoring underway

The USDA Forest Service, in conjunction with Wyoming Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and Wilderness Outreach, was able to commit resources to improving trails on the Laramie and Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger Districts over the course of the summer. With a focus on trails within wilderness, the Forest Service and trail crews were able to clear over 70 miles of trail this season in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Accomplishments include clearing fallen trees from the entirety of system trails within the Savage Run Wilderness and Encampment River Wilderness, including clearing over 800 trees along the Encampment River Trail (470). Most trails in the Platte River Wilderness and Huston Park Wilderness have also been improved – including the complete clearing of Douglas Creek Trail (506), Platte River Trail (473), and Baby Lakes Trail (859). There are plans to continue trail maintenance and improvements in the 2020 season, dependent on funding.

The Forest Service would like to thank American Conservation Experience and Wyoming Conservation Corps for their combined 7,680 hours of work to clear trails, as well as Wilderness Outreach for their 960 total hours of work on the Douglas Creek Trail. Thanks to Common Outdoor Ground (COG) for collecting valuable planning information, such as the location and number of downed trees, through the Rapid Trail Assessment Project.

The Forest Service has partnered with COG, a community organization in southeast Wyoming, to monitor solitude conditions in the Huston Park and Encampment River wilderness areas. This partnership is possible in part thanks to the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, for the Wilderness Stewardship Performance grant awarded to COG.

Solitude monitoring includes recording encounters within wilderness areas during at least a four-hour period. Those interested in assisting with the solitude monitoring program may participate individually or through an organized group. Signage for the solitude monitoring program as well as monitoring handouts will be available at major trailheads of the Huston Park and Encampment River wilderness.

For more information about volunteering for the wilderness solitude monitoring program, contact: Meghan Kent, Wilderness Solitude Lead for COG,

For more information regarding the wilderness solitude monitoring program and wilderness stewardship, contact: Rhaude Dahlinghaus, Forest Service Recreation Assistant,

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 27, 2019

Tour of the Moon Bicycle Tour to Travel through Colorado National Monument

On Saturday, September 28, 2019, the Tour of the Moon recreational bicycle ride will travel through Colorado National Monument. The touring cyclists will travel over Rim Rock Drive, entering the monument at the east entrance off of Monument Road near Grand Junction and exiting at the west entrance onto Highway 340 near Fruita. Cyclists will be limited to the west bound lane.

Colorado National Monument and all facilities will remain open to the public during the cycling event. In order to provide safety for the cyclists, the west bound lane of Rim Rock Drive from the east (Grand Junction) entrance to DS Road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Throughout the morning the monument staff is recommending vehicle traffic enter the monument at the west (Fruita) entrance and travel in the opposite direction from the bicyclists.

Event organizers are anticipating the 2,000 cyclists will be riding in the monument from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monument staff are encouraging all other visitors to tour the park in the afternoon.

Safety Advisory: All vehicle traffic is asked to travel west to east on Rim Rock Drive to avoid congestion. Motorists and bicyclists are strongly advised to travel cautiously around curves and always obey the speed limit.

For additional information regarding the Tour of the Moon recreational bicycle ride, please visit

The visitor center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information, please visit or call 970-858-3617, ext. 360. For information on a select handful of hikes we covered in Colorado National Monument, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Annual Elk Fest in Estes Park coming up this weekend

To celebrate the annual elk rut and learn about the "wapiti," the Native American name for elk, the city of Estes Park hosts the annual Elk Fest this weekend, Sept. 28-29.

Elk Fest offers visitors a chance to safely view elk during the rutting season in the wild, as well as expand their knowledge of elk and its habitat.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will have a booth to promote the message of how to view wildlife responsibly, will have a kids craft table, general showcases on elk and hunting information from CPW’s hunter outreach program.

Held in Bond Park, located in downtown Estes Park, the free festival will offer:

• Bugling competitions
• Elk exhibits and seminars
• Elk-inspired arts and crafts
• Education areas
• The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program
• Native American music
• Dancing and storytelling
• Children's area with elk-themed activities
• Craft beer garden

Vendors will display artwork, handmade elk-ivory jewelry and will offer distinctive elk cuisine. Mountain men from around the country will gather at the Mountain Man Rendezvous to sell their wares and demonstrate their skills.

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Sept. 28 
• 8:30 a.m. - Rut Run 5k
• 10 a.m. - All Vendors Open
• 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Kids Corral w/ fun activities and crafts
• 10:30-10:50 a.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Native American Storytelling
• 12:15-1 p.m. - Bugling Contest • 1-1:20 p.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 1:30-3 p.m. - Live Music from Avenhart
• 3-5 p.m. - Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling

Sunday, Sept. 29 
• 10 a.m. - All Vendors Open
• 10 a.m.-3 p.m. - Kids Corral w/ fun activities and crafts
• 10:30-10:50 a.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall
• 11 a.m.-1:00 p.m. - Live Music from Cass Clayton (blues)
• 12:45-1:45 p.m. - Rocky Mountain Raptors, educational performance
• 2-4 p.m. - Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling
• 2:30-2:50 p.m. - "Elk of Estes Park" film in Town Hall

You can visit the Elk Fest web page for more information by clicking here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Hazard Tree Mitigation Work Continues On Trail Ridge Road In Rocky Mountain National Park

Park staff will be removing hazard trees in late September through October along Trail Ridge Road through Upper Hidden Valley as part of ongoing bark beetle mitigation work. Temporary traffic control will be implemented above Many Parks Curve during tree falling operations.

Work will begin on September 30 and continue through October 22, weather and resources permitting. Traffic delays of 15 minutes, in both uphill and downhill directions should be expected on Monday through Thursdays between 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Delays could extend beyond 15 minutes depending on the volume of vehicles. Work on this project will not take place on Fridays or weekends.

Bark beetles continue to be active within Rocky Mountain National Park, impacting large numbers of conifer trees. The park’s priorities for mitigation of the effects of beetles are focused on removing hazard trees and hazard fuels related to the protection of life and property.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 23, 2019

Rocky Mountain National Park Proposes Changes In Camping Fees

Rocky Mountain National Park staff are proposing a change in current campground fees. Campground fees are based on comparable fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds. Park staff are proposing an increase for summer camping from $26 to $30 and winter camping from $18 to $20, per site, per night.

Park staff are proposing a flat rate at group sites at Glacier Basin Campground. Currently the fees are $4 per person, per night. The proposed flat rates would be as follows: small group site (9-15 people) $40; medium group site (16-25 people) $50; and large group site (26-40 people) $60.

Camping is very popular in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are five campgrounds open during the summer, which includes 570 sites. The park’s three reservation campgrounds, Moraine Park, Glacier Basin and Aspenglen, normally fill up six months in advance. The park’s two first-come, first-served campgrounds, Longs Peak and Timber Creek, fill up quickly. Timber Creek Campground, located on the west side of the national park, normally fills up last. Moraine Park Campground remains open during the winter, with 77 sites available.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the park currently collects entrance and amenity fees, including camping. This law allows national parks to retain 80 percent of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Since the beginning of FLREA and its predecessor the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, the park has spent millions of dollars in repairs, renovations, improvements and resource restoration.

People notice! Ninety percent of surveyed park visitors have continually expressed support for this program. Some of the projects funded through these fees at Rocky Mountain National Park include the park’s visitor shuttle system, which last year transported over 700,000 visitors throughout the Bear Lake Road corridor and to and from Estes Park; renovation of all restroom facilities throughout the park’s campgrounds; extensive hazard tree mitigation near facilities such as campgrounds, parking lots, road corridors, housing areas and visitor centers; and hiking trail enhancements including maintenance and reconstruction on much of Rocky’s 350 miles of trails.

“Camping is very popular in Rocky Mountain National Park. We want to keep our campground fees affordable and provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Darla Sidles, Park Superintendent. “We feel that our proposed campground fee change is an incredible value. Plus, 80 percent of those funds stay right here in Rocky to benefit visitors.”

Park staff are seeking feedback about the proposed fee schedule. Please email comments to e-mail us by September 27, 2019. The current campground fees have been in effect for the past four years. Feedback the park receives will help determine how and when a campground fee increase may be implemented.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 20, 2019

10 Years Of Elk Vegetation Management Plan Monitoring Data Special Program - Wednesday, September 25

Join Dr. Edward Gage, Research Scientist at Colorado State University, on Wednesday, September 25, at 7 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park as he shares progress on analyses of ten years of monitoring data from the Elk and Vegetation Management Plan.

Declines in the condition of aspen and willow-dominated riparian communities in Rocky Mountain National Park are well-documented, precipitated largely by excessive elk herbivory and a loss of beaver. In 2008, the park began implementing an Elk and Vegetation Management Plan to guide management, reduce impacts of elk on vegetation, and restore the natural range of variability in elk populations and affected ecological communities. Periodic monitoring of vegetation structure and condition is an integral part of this plan.

In this Science Behind the Scenery presentation, Dr. Gage will summarize the aspen, upland and willow vegetation data collected to date and explain changes that have been observed over time. Dr. Gage specializes in wetland and riparian ecology, remote sensing, GIS, and plant ecology. He cut his academic teeth on questions of beaver and willows in Rocky Mountain National Park 20 years ago and has maintained a keen interest and deep love for the park ever since.

This presentation is part of the Science Behind the Scenery speaker series, brought to you by the Continental Divide Research Learning Center at Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Join us to learn more about park research, and what it tells us about the park and its resources. This program is free and open to the public.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

National Park Service Releases Howe Ridge Fire Video From Glacier National Park

Last month the National Park Service (NPS) released a video documenting the first 36 hours of the Howe Ridge Fire, which took place at Glacier National Park (see video below). The fire destroyed private homes and publicly-owned historic structures on August 12, 2018.

The video documents steps firefighters took to attack the wildland fire initially, and the combination of factors that made initial attack unsuccessful. The video also documents evacuation and structural firefighting efforts. The goal of the video is to share these efforts and raise awareness about this incident to other public land management agencies, people who visit and recreate on public lands, and residents who live in wildland fire prone areas.

Summary of Events:

August 11, 2018, was a Red Flag day when a weather system moved through the region bringing little moisture and widespread lightning, 19 fires ignited across the Northern Rockies Fire Zone. Three of these fires ignited in Glacier National Park, requiring interagency fire managers to prioritize by considering values at risk. The Howe Ridge Fire was detected at 7:18 pm - all three park fires were deemed high priority fires. Firefighters caught the other two fires on initial attack due to a combination of factors, including access and weather conditions.

In the last 10 years, there were three other reported fires on Howe Ridge. Because the area is relatively close to developed infrastructure, all three fires were managed with full suppression tactics. One was suppressed at .1 acres, another at 2.3 acres, and the third was never found after the initial report. We presume that fire went out without firefighter intervention. In all cases, these previous fires were relatively straightforward to control.

Once the NPS detected the Howe Ridge Fire on August 11, they immediately attempted to access the area and prevent the fire from spreading. Unfortunately, given the time of day and location of the fire, crews were unable to access the area immediately on foot or via a helicopter. The park placed an order for a Type 1 helicopter for the next morning and developed an action plan. The park successfully secured two CL-215s (super scoopers) due to the high priority nature of the fire within the northern Rockies fire zone, and 14 firefighters attempted to access the fire by ground.

The two CL-215s arrived the morning of August 12, and worked four hours (one fuel cycle), dropping tens of thousands of gallons of water on the fire. High winds made it impossible for them to fly close enough to the fire to be effective. The CL-215s then went to other priority fires outside the park.

Firefighters again tried to hike to the fire, but were not able to engage directly because of fire behavior.

By that afternoon, the fire had burned approximately 20 acres, escaping initial response.

Early that evening, the fire grew rapidly and exhibited extreme behavior, including tree torching, crown runs, wind-driven fire, and fire spots up to ½ mile away. The behavior prompted emergency evacuations on the night of August 12. Between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m, approximately 1,000 visitors, employees, and local residents were evacuated from campsites, North McDonald Road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station), Lake McDonald Lodge Complex, and private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Interagency emergency services and wildland and structural firefighting units responded from across Flathead Valley.

The fire grew from 20 acres to an estimated 2,500 acres overnight, spreading down the lakeshore at Kelly’s Camp, the historic Wheeler Residence, and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station.

In total, the fire grew to more than 14,000 acres and firefighting efforts cost $13.6 million. The fire continued to raise smoke until significant snow fell in winter 2018. Owing to firefighting efforts, previous fuel reduction, and containment strategies, the main historic Wheeler cabin residence and Lake McDonald Ranger Station were saved, and firefighters prevented it from reaching Going-to-the-Sun Road and private residences along Grist Road and Apgar.

“August 12 was one of the most challenging and heartbreaking nights in Glacier’s history,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Words cannot do justice the thanks we give to our local county, state, and federal firefighting partners who arrived the night of August 12 in our time of great need.”

“While 2018 fire recovery efforts are well underway for both the park and private homeowners, we can’t lose sight of future fire seasons. These events and others we have seen throughout the West show us that we must continue fuels mitigation efforts, strengthen our wildland fire response capabilities, and as residents and visitors in this forested region, enhance our own personal firewise and evacuation strategies,” Mow continued.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lend a Hand on National Public Lands Day

September 28th is your chance to be a part of the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers come together on the fourth Saturday in September to assist with various projects designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways and more. From trail maintenance to tree planting—volunteers of all ages and abilities roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side to care for public lands. The day also features a variety of hikes, bike rides, community festivals, paddling excursions, and other fun outdoor activities—all set on the backdrop of the country’s public lands and waterways.

America’s public lands aren’t the only ones that benefits from National Public Lands Day. Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to mental and physical well-being. Spending time in the outdoors has been found to improve short-term memory, concentration and creativity—while reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. Volunteering on NPLD is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the many benefits that come from connecting with nature.

In celebration of the annual National Public Lands Day celebration, September 28, 2019 has been designed as a Free Entrance Day for most National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other participating federal sites. If you volunteer on this day, you will receive a fee-free day coupon to be used on a future date.

Click here to check out the official National Public Lands Day event map, which makes it easy to find all of the events that will be available later this month.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Enjoy the fall foliage with Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Though summer doesn’t officially end until Sept. 22, fall colors are already beginning to appear across the State of Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife invites you to plan your fall excursions, making the most of those fleeting fall colors. Whether you are looking for wildlife viewing, picturesque hiking trails or a scenic foliage drives, Colorado has got it all.

If you are interested in witnessing the changes to nature autumn brings, Colorado’s 41 state parks are a perfect place to start. With fall bringing dramatic changes to the aspen leaves, as well as unique animal mating rituals such as elk bugling, state parks are a great place to access all that the season brings. Take a weekend away at State Forest State Park to witness a phenomenal showing of changing aspen trees. If you are more interested in elk viewing, head to Mueller State Park to join a group hike to seek out the bugling elk and a chance to witness bull elk competing for females. While making the most of the wildlife viewing opportunities autumn presents, always remember to practice ethical wildlife viewing.

"Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to enjoy Colorado’s state parks. With opportunities to view wildlife and appreciate our fall colors in beautiful settings, our state parks are great places to experience the best aspects of the season. With the potential for fall colors to arrive a bit earlier this year, make sure to get outside and enjoy this special time before it passes for another year," says Julie Arington, Park Manager at Steamboat Lake State Park.

Fall in Colorado provides opportunities for those looking for a solo adventure, as well as those seeking some family fun. With hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding as well as a wide variety of camping options, Colorado’s state parks are sure to have a trail or site to fit every age, ability and interest. Whether you are interested in a nature walk at Barr Lake, a horseback ride at Golden Gate Canyon, a mountain bike ride at Mancos, or a relaxing overnight yurt stay at Pearl Lake, fall in Colorado has something that everyone will enjoy.

As the air becomes brisk, you may find a scenic drive preferable. Begin your drive at Trinidad Lake State Park, and wind your way through the Highway of Legends down to Lathrop State Park. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with views of mountain peaks and groves of changing aspens. If you’re looking for a new take on fall color viewing, head out to southwest Colorado for a visit to Navajo State Park. You will have a chance to witness the desert mountains, buttes, and mesas while they are highlighted by pockets of colorful brilliance and interest.

To find state parks with fall activities you may be interested in, please visit the Park Finder, as well as the CPW calendar.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, September 8, 2019

New rule keeps bicycles on designated trails in Grand County's national forest areas

New regulations have gone into place that limit bicycles to designated roads and trails on the Arapaho National Forest in Grand County. This is the result of close collaboration between trails organizations, businesses, residents, local governments and environmental organizations across Grand County and is part of a broader effort to improve the Sulphur Ranger District’s trail system.

The project, which started implementation in 2017, aims to improve trail-to-trail connectivity, creating loop opportunities and designing trails to provide a range of experiences for beginner through advance riders. This is being achieved through new trail construction, trail reroutes, trail width reductions from roads to single track, and closing and decommissioning some system and non-system trails. The entire project is expected to take 5-10 years to complete.

“A key aspect of this project is to balance all these trail improvements with the conservation of wildlife habitat, watersheds and other natural resources we value,” said Sulphur District Ranger Jon Morrissey. “Part of finding that balance is curbing the proliferation of user-created routes and keeping the impacts to the trails system so that wildlife and other resources can thrive.”

As a result, off trail biking now is expressly not allowed across the ranger district. The regulation applies to all types of bikes in summer and winter. In addition, two designated trails will be off limits to bikes in winter, including Tipperary Creek (N68) and Flume (N82).

Organizations such as Headwaters Trails Alliance, International Mountain Bike Alliance and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have been integral partners in the project, raising funds, providing input and managing implementation, Morrissey added.

Improving trail signage, maps, and trailheads are also part of the effort, providing better wayfinding to keep bikers on legitimate routes. The new sign system provides a difficulty rating for mountain bikers identical to what is found at ski areas. And HTA has created a map that the Forest Service hopes will eventually become the official trail system map for the area.

As part of the Sulphur Trails Smart Sizing project, nearly 6 miles of new bicycle trail has been constructed or reconstructed, while 1.6 miles of unneeded trail has been decommissioned. Twenty-eight directional signs have been installed. An additional 1.5 miles of trail are planned for construction and reconstruction and additional 23 signs are planned for installation by the end of the operating season.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 6, 2019

Trail Crew Project for National Public Lands Day

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance is seeking volunteers to join a trail crew project for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 28th 2019. Here's the current information about the event from their website:
Mark your calendar for a trail crew project on Saturday September 28th to commemorate the National Public Lands Day! This project is open to volunteers and member of the public at least 18 years old (or younger with parental consent). Volunteers for tree projects must attend the Sawyer training. Location and additional details coming soon. To learn more, email us at

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

How to Climb (hike) a Mountain

Below is a short video that was featured on Outside Today a few years ago. Although the title of the video was "How to Climb a Mountain", the skills discussed in this video are actually basic mountain climbing skills that most hikers will benefit from, and should have an understanding for safer passage through the mountains. The video features Rainbow Weinstock from the Colorado Mountain School:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bear injures a man after a surprise encounter in his kitchen

A bear injured a 71-year-old man inside his Pine, Colorado home on Monday evening after entering through a screen door, and swiping the man multiple times with its claws when the two had a surprise encounter in his kitchen.

The man was downstairs watching TV with his wife when he heard noises coming from upstairs. After going up the stairs and turning a corner into his kitchen, he was face-to-face with a bear. The man and the sow then engaged in what was described as a boxing match, as the man tried to fend off this sow bear that attacked after the surprise run-in. The wife rushed upstairs and hit the bear multiple times with a baseball bat, causing the bear to run away outside of the home. A cub was inside the home with the sow, and ran away with its mother after the encounter.

The man received a number of lacerations to his face, chest and both arms. He was treated at the scene, but was not taken to a hospital.

The attacked occurred around 8:45 p.m.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers searched the area until approximately midnight. The search resumed at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when a dog team from the USDA Wildlife Services arrived to aid in the effort to find the attacking bear. It was the same dog team that assisted last week with a mountain lion attack in Bailey, Colo.

By 5:50 a.m. Tuesday, the dog team had located a bear in the immediate area and over the course of the next hour, the dogs, CPW wildlife officers and the officials from the USDA Wildlife Services tracked that bear. The bear was euthanized shortly before 7 a.m., roughly 900 yards from the home where the attack occurred. The cub has not been located.

DNA samples will be sent to the University of Wyoming Forensics Lab for analysis to confirm if this is the bear from the attack. CPW policy states that when a bear attacks a human resulting in injury, that bear must be euthanized.

Wildlife officers continue to monitor the area.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking