Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park Announces Winter Pile Burn Operations

Fire managers from Rocky Mountain National Park plan to take advantage of any upcoming winter weather conditions to burn piles of slash from several forest thinning and hazard tree mitigation projects. Exclusion of fire for the past century has resulted in unnatural forest conditions in some areas, with significant accumulation of forest fuels and an increased risk of a wildfire. In addition, park crews have been cutting hazard trees caused by beetle killed trees. There is an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 piles park wide. If these are all burned, it will be roughly three times the amount of piles that are normally burned in a year.

Slash from these projects has been cut and piled by park fire crews and contractors during the last two years. Pile burning operations may begin as early as October 24, and continue through March as weather permits. The piles, which are now dry enough to burn, are located in a variety of locations on both the east and west sides of the park. Locations include but are not limited to: Bear Lake Road Corridor, Glacier Basin Campground, Sprague Lake, Moraine Park Campground, Deer Mountain, Highway 34 near Deer Ridge Junction, some areas along Trail Ridge Road, Lily Lake area, Wild Basin Road, along US Highway 34 from the park boundary to the Colorado River Trailhead, on the southern boundary of the park (north of the town of Grand Lake), Shadow Mountain, and other areas along Trail Ridge Road on the west side.

Safety factors, weather conditions, air quality and environmental regulations are continually monitored as a part of any fire management operation. For more information please contact the park's Information Office at 970-586-1206. -NPS-

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Hike to Dream Lake - Summer in RMNP

The early morning was cool and breezy with the red light of dawn hitting Longs Peak. I couldn’t wait to get up closer and experience the mountains. I chose the iconic hike to Dream Lake as my destination.

Staying in the Moraine Park Campground, I got up early to catch the first Park Shuttle Bus to Bear Lake at 7:25am so that I didn’t need to park my car at the trailhead. By the time I had finished my hike, not only the Bear Lake parking area, but the huge Park and Ride at Glacier Basin were full of cars.

About 20 people poured off the Shuttle bus and dispersed to their trailheads. I crossed the wooden bridge and followed the trail sign to Dream Lake. Now, any of the thousands of people who have done this hike can tell you that this is not a wilderness experience because the trail is wide and well worn, yet it takes you right into the beauty of the mountains. I started slow to warm up and get used to breathing at 9,450 feet, and set a rhythm where I could sustain the consistent, gentle climb without being out of breath.

Views of Longs Peak and Glacier popped up as the trail curved around the mountain. It wasn’t far until the climb topped a crest to see Nymph Lake filled with water lilies and reflections of surrounding peaks. Then continuing on, I was soon next to the sounds of rushing water cascading down the mountain from Dream Lake. This is a great family hike because older kids can enjoy the challenge, and everyone has a chance to make it to the destination, only a mile from the trailhead.

This year there were still patches of snow around the lake in mid-July, and cool breezes blew down off of Hallett Peak across Dream Lake. A cloud hung out next to the peak. I found a patch of marsh marigolds in a marshy area next to melting snow. Beautiful rocks surround the lake with twisted pines growing out of them.

I hope I’ve evoked pleasant memories of Rocky Mountain National Park for those of you who’ve been among the thousands of boots and sneakers to enjoy this hike! The cool mountain air, the summer smell of pine trees, the rushing sound of mountain streams – this is paradise!

Guest blogger is Marisue Wells of and

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wonderful Opportunity for Birders in RMNP

News from the National Park Service:

Rocky Mountain National Park is hosting a migratory bird bash. Join us for an opportunity to learn more about migratory birds while exploring the park with experienced bird watchers. “Go Wild, Go Birding” is this year’s theme, created to celebrate the migration of birds to North American breeding grounds from South American wintering grounds.

The event will be held Saturday, June 11, starting at 8:00 a.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park. After a short introduction, visitors and bird walk leaders will caravan into the park to view birds in a variety of habitats. In this guided walk, naturalists and expert birders will help beginners identify birds; all ages and abilities are welcome. Suggested items for the morning’s activities include warm clothes, water, good walking shoes, binoculars and a snack. The event will end at noon, but visitors are encouraged to continue their birding adventures throughout the day.

The event is being held to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, which is celebrated each spring across the United States and Canada. International Migratory Bird Day recognizes the movement of nearly 350 species of birds from their wintering grounds in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean to nesting habitats in North America.

The activities are free of charge, but regular park entry fees apply.
For more information about programs at Rocky Mountain National Park, please visit

Please remember the Original On-line Visitors' Guide to Estes Park for all your RMNP vacation plans:!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trail Ridge Road is Open in RMNP!

Trail Ridge Road - which spans Rocky Mountain National Park and connects Estes Park (on the eastern side of the park) with Grand Lake (on the western slope) opened today for the season! Park visitors have loved this picturesque drive, and the bragging rights that they drove on the United States highest continuously pave road. Reaching 12,183 feet above sea level, is nothing to sneeze at!

The National Parks Service reports, "This year snowplow operators faced many challenges while clearing the road; encountering the most snow they have seen this late in the season for thirty years." Kyle Patterson of NPS shares that the amount of winter snowpack, in combination with late spring storms really made snowplowing efforts difficult.

Historically, Trail Ridge Road is opened to the publice on Memorial Day weekend. The latest opening date (other than this year!) in the past 20 years was June 4, 1994, and the latest it has ever opened was June 26, 1943!

Because the weather conditions at this high altitude can change rapidly, park visitors should be prepared to adjust travel plans, and are encouraged to call the park's Trail Ridge Road recorded phone line at (970)586-1222. The NPS staff will update the recording during and after regular office hours if the road status changes.

For more information about RMNP's Trail Ridge Road, go to

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Artists in Residence in RMNP - Summer 2011

(photo of artist Brian Slawson of Kansas)

Each year Rocky Mountain National Park sponsors an Artists in Residence program, seeking artists of all sorts (visual arts, poets, videographers, fine artists, etc.) to come stay in the William Allen White cabin in RMNP for two weeks during the months of June through September. The artists are provided with a serene, comtemplative, and inspiring environment where they can create. They are given the chance to share their creative works with the public at presentations held on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center auditorium from June 8 through September 17.

The NPS shares "Artists have had a long-standing impact on the formation, expansion and direction of our country’s national parks. Musicians, composers, painters, writers, sculptors and other performing artists also draw upon the multifaceted quality of parks for inspiration. All of these artists translate the national park’s purpose, as a place of pleasure and preservation, into images which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of the parks some may never visit. Rocky Mountain National Park’s Artist-In-Residence program provides artists the opportunity to become a part of a long established tradition of artists in our national parks."

For 2011, seven artists were chosen out of eighty-three aplicants. The artists selected along with their art medium are: Andrew Bedo, Photographer from Rosenberg, Texas; Scott Eldridge, Photographer from Vienna, Virginia; Mark McDermott, Visual Artist from Anchorage, Alaska; Brian Slawson, Visual Artist from Topeka, Kansas; Walt Hester, Photographer from Estes Park, Colorado; Emily Harrington, Visual Artist from Missoula, Montana; Roger Wolfe, Video Photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. In addition to these artists, a special selection was included this year; Leah Kegerreis, an eight-year-old artist from Texas.

If you are interested in having your own RMNP artistic experience, check out this sketching class.

Remember the original travellers' guide to Estes Park for all your vacation planning:!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life is Hard When You're a Baby Elk - New Life in RMNP

Early June is when most of the babies of RMNP arrive. After birth the elk calf spends most of its time hiding in grass or near bushes and following it's mother as she grazes. Nature is momentarily kind during the elks' first week of life - the baby doesn't produce a scent for nearly a week to help allude predators. This reprive is short lived though, as June is a calf's most dangerous time when predators like coyotes are prowling the edges of elk herds looking for a baby hiding in the grass. Generally the mothers form very small herds and the calves start playing with other calves, learning how elk life works. From birth until mid-July the calf will drink about a gallon of milk a day gaining two to three pounds a day. Life gets even harder just a few weeks, or sometimes only days after birth, as the elk herds start to move up to the tundra and the calf has to hike miles gaining 5,000feet of elevation to start enjoying the tundra's sweet grass. Luckily, each calf has plenty of babysitters with the rest of the elk herd watching after them. Parents, when your child whines about a walk around Bear Lake, just remind them "At least you aren't a baby elk!"

Blog Post by Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding. If you would like a private tour of Rocky Mountain National Park (perhaps even catch a glimpse of these elk calves!), contact Jared at

To book your Estes Park vacation, visit Here you'll find the best information on lodging and activities for your Rocky Mountain National Park adventure.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

You Call this Spring? Update on Trail Ridge Road

The weather and extended forecast has changed some ... since we scheduled our Media Day for snowplowing efforts on Trail Ridge Road! Due to the recent snowstorm and current weather forecast, we will be postponing our media day scheduled for tomorrow.

Currently there is 3 to 4 feet of snow above Rainbow Curve and wind with gusts up to 55 mph above Many Parks Curve. There is 2 inches of ice on the road between Many Parks Curve and Rainbow Curve. The snow and wind is supposed to continue through this evening at higher elevations. The sun aids in our efforts to clear Trail Ridge Road and we might not see it again until tomorrow morning sometime!

We want to keep all of us safe (and reasonably warm) during media day and provide some great visuals for you as well. We will see what happens over the weekend - weather and equipment wise - and touch base with you all early next week.

Thanks for your patience. It's Springtime in the Rockies! What were we
thinking scheduling our media day for Friday the 13th? :-)

- Kyle from the N.P.S.

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