Bask in the light of the full moon in Rocky Mountain National Park this Sunday 12/3.
What better a way to get into the holiday spirit!
Photo Credit: NPS/Russell Smith
The Rocky Mountain Rangers lead Full Moon Walks in the winter months, the first one this coming Sunday. Groups leave from Beaver Meadows at 5 pm. Reservations are required and can be made in person or you can call the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at 970-586-1223. Maybe there will even be a little fresh snow from the system that passes through Sunday - fingers crossed!
"I think that's what I like the best is understanding more about how things work, and what's living there, and how it interacts with all the other organisms in that system."
- Erin Borgman
The National Park Service's video series, Stay Curious, most recently selected and interviewed one of Rocky Mountain National Park's very own. Erin Borgman is an NPS Ecologist and Field Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Division. In short, her job is to keep a close eye on the vital signs and overall 'health' of important streams and rivers within the park. These bodies of water are the most important resource to the park's habitat and wildlife inhabitants, making her mission a crucial one!
Check out the video below to learn how Erin began down the path of Ecology sciences and the advice she has for anyone else trying to discover their place in the world around them.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to black bears, which are also the largest and least frequently seen mammals within the park. There are an estimated 20-35 bears currently living in RMNP, but previous studies have shown that the park is a poor habit for them, naturally speaking. It's believed that the area was attractive to the animals because hunting remains prohibited within the boundaries. Bears do what bears do; they eat lots of wild fruits that grow within the park, such as choke cherries, currants, raspberries, grapes and juniper berries. Afterwards, well.. They do what nearly every other living thing does.
RMNP rangers decided to try something new this year, and used the abundance of bear scat to the park's advantage!
A member of the park's vegetation restoration crew collected scat throughout the park last fall, and volunteers took time planting it in the park's greenhouses. No one was sure what exactly would come of it, if anything - but there truly was no downside to this experiment. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the seedlings began sprouting, which have now reached a count of over 1,200 total.
"Animals are great seed dispersers and of course, what does in one way goes out the other," the park said on it's Facebook page. "After defecation, seeds are left in a rich, moist medium that nourishes the growing seedling."
Most of the seedlings appear to be Oregon-grape and chokecherry, which was a surprise to the team. Chokecherry has a very thick, hard seed coat that is difficult to germinate in typical greenhouse conditions. Thanks to their trip through a bear's digestive system beforehand, that coat was broken down in the process, allowing for successful growth.
The plan is to plant the Oregon Grape seedlings in an effort to rehabilitate the areas disturbed during the replacement of the park's main waterline in 2016.
If you dream of being a volunteer at the Rocky Mountain National Park, click HERE and take the next steps! There are opportunities for individuals and groups alike, and they are always in need of help and community involvement.
The Wounded Warrior Project aims to connect, serve and empower wounded warriors. Connecting members and their families to valuable resources ensures that they have the ability to live a life on their own terms. Recently, a group of veterans ventured out into the winter wonderland that is currently Rocky Mountain National Park with a couple goals in mind; socializing and challenging themselves in the process.
"Being part of the Wounded Warrior Project gives me the opportunity to connect with other veterans like me and create the same types of friendships I had while serving on active duty," says Army veteran Christopher.
Physical activity is key to helping injured warriors cope with stress and emotional concerns. In a WWP survey, 29.6% of respondents expressed that physical activity helps them address their mental health challenges. What better place to connect with nature, yourself and others than in Rocky Mountain National Park?
For many of the participants, it was the first time they'd strapped on snowshoes and hiked through the mountains. The opportunity to come together and bond over such a challenging shared experience was beneficial for all! Thanks to the generosity of donors, the day was available to the veterans at no cost to them.
"Not only am I connecting with other warriors, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment after completing each hike," says Christopher.
The Ski Train originated in 1940 and boasted 69 years of regular, scheduled trips to Winter Park Resort. It would dutifully pick up from Denver's Union Station, chug through 29 tunnels and through the Rocky Mountains before stopping less than 100 yards from the base of the lifts in Winter Park, making it a coveted mode of transportation for those making day trips. In earlier years it was dominated by the Eskimo Ski Club, with members ranging from 7 to 17 years old. Hard times in the 1980's resulted in the creation of the "New Ski Train", with new cars and a rejuvenated business plan. Their efforts dubbed them the Downtown Award of Honor by the Denver Partnership, who stated it was, "for this unique fifty-year downtown mainstay and its vital linkage between the City Center and Colorado mountains."
The Ski Train made it's final run to Winter Park on March 29, 2009, but Amtrak has since brought about the Winter Park Express in it's place. This route's return has garnered attention worldwide and promises to be one of the most exciting developments for Colorado skiers in years!
"You don't have to worry about traffic. You don't have to worry about weather. You can just sit back and enjoy the view", says Steve Hurlbert, spokesman for the Winter Park Resort. "It's just a really relaxing way to get to the mountains."
Amtrak's double-decker cars are featured on the Winter Park Express, which are designed to be roomier than normal passenger train cars. Over 500 passengers can fit at a time, and the cars can even be resized if the demand requires it in the near future... Though it is highly doubtful there will be any need for downsizing; Hulbert confirmed that tickets for their two test runs in March 2015 sold out in approximately 14 hours!
The Winter Park Express is the only service of it's kind in the United States, providing one more reason Colorado is the place to be - especially if you love winter sports.
Early bird pricing begins at $39 one way, so book early! Tickets will then be available at $49 or $59 as each lowered-priced seating sells out. Discounted tickets will be available, but only a first come first served basis. CLICK HERE to get your tickets and experience fun on the mountains without all the tail lights and slick roads!