Rocky Mountain National Park Series – December 3rd Full Moon Hike
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!
Returning the favor to our National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park Series
...when you drive into this park, you forget about everything else. You hear the water, hear the birds, you hear the wind ruffling through the aspens. Everything else disappears and all you have are the sounds and your thoughts." Blake Crossland
Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo
Blake Crossland grew up in the Rocky Mountains, through which he developed a deep appreciation for exploration and adventure in the outdoors. Now, he is dedicating his life to returning the favor by becoming a trail crew leader for the Rocky Mountain Conservation Corps.
Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo
Blake's crew is responsible for trail construction and maintenance. They focus on making trails more sustainable, so they last longer and are more enjoyable for the public.
Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo
The main goal of the Conservation Corp is to get kids involved in conservation work. Younger people will determine our National Parks' futures. We need to connect young people to the public lands and parks and continue to protect these treasured places!
Thank you Blake!
PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo.
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Proposed Gate Fee Increase to $70
Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the 10 most-visited national parks in the United States, coming in at number 4 behind (1) Great Smoky Mountains NP, (2) Grand Canyon NP & (3) Yosemite NP.
Photo Credits: Michael Hodges, Jim Osterberg © 2012 RockyMountainNationalPark.com
The number of visitors each year (over 4.5 million this year!), specifically concentrated during the peak season (June to September), is taking a toll on the park. From roads and bridges to campgrounds and restrooms, the infrastructure is aging and the National Parks Service is proposing raising rates to fund improvements in RMNP, as well as, 17 other popular national parks.
Photo Credits: Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce
Current Rocky Mountain National Park entrance fees are $30/week and $10 dollars for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycles. If the proposed rate increase goes into effect, it could cost $70 to enter RMNP in June of 2018.
Photo Credits: CBS Denver - CBS Local
The National Parks Service says if implemented, this increase could boost park revenue by $70 million/year. But, there's no guarantee that this will happen. A public comment period is open through November 23rd. Learn more and share your thoughts in the Comments section here: http://bit.ly/2yMe5IB
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Stay Curious Video Series
"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 Series – Park Closures for Elk Protection
Closures to protect the elk during the annual bugling season are currently in effect throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, Harbison Meadow and Holzwarth Meadow will all be closed through October 31st. In addition, fishing in the Fall River, Thompson River or Colorado River during the closure period is prohibited."The purpose of the closures is to prevent disturbance and harassment of elk during their fall mating period and to enhance visitor elk viewing opportunities," states Kyle Patterson, park spokeswoman.
The park reminds visitors that elk calling, shining headlights for better nighttime visibility and generally harassing the elk is not only prohibited but dangerous. The majority of issues are caused by people directly who get too closely to the elk, or "elk jams" due to so many viewers parked alongside the roads.
In order to enjoy the rutting season and visits to the mountains responsibly, maintain your distance!
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Finding Fall Colors This Weekendd
Beginning in late August each year, the aspens in the highest parts of Rocky Mountain National Park embark on their annual transition of 'quaking'; a term use to describe the leave's behavior in the breeze and unique color changing process from green to brilliant golden yellows, oranges and reds.
(Video Credit: Colette Bordelon)
If you have yet to visit the park during the fall, you must add it to your to-do list! The hues painting the mountainside change with each passing day until mid to late September, accompanied by the elk's rutting season and migration down from the high country. Tourists, photographers and nearly everyone else believes the park is in it's prime during this time of year, though there are certain spots that are recommended above others if you're chasing colors....
Far from hidden, this popular spot is a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts as a place where elk gather in large numbers, backdropped by fiery colors. There are numerous viewing spots along US 34 on the SE facing hillsides. Have your cameras ready! Elk show up with little warning and you may miss the ideal opportunity if you're not prepared...
Glacier Gorge Trail
All the way up to Alberta Falls on Glacier Gorge Trail, you'll be snapping pictures and looking on in awe; this hike is a beautiful one. Aspens line the path and fallen leaves float along the creek, welcoming you with a flurry of color.
Bear Lake Road
This road runs parallel to the Glacier Creek and is worth the time it may take to travel all the way to the end. You'll begin at Moraine Park and will want to pull off the road any chance you get because every turn will offer a new and interesting view! If you'd prefer to hike or relax at an overlook, there are many opportunities along the way for that as well.
Because the trail head is located just outside of the park's boundary (approximately 6 miles from Estes Park), this hike is a favorite for those who prefer a more secluded experience. If you've brought your camera along, be sure to get an early start to the day for the best lighting.
About 10,000 feet up on Trail Ridge Road you'll find the Fair Curve and spectacular views of the Mummy Range up to the north. You will have driven through the Kawuneeche Valley to reach this spot, so you can now appreciate the valley's color from above!
Argued by some as the most beautiful place in the park to photograph, you'll drive through 10 miles of Kawuneeche Valley along Trail Ridge Road between Grand Lake and the Timber Lake trail head. Give yourself ample time for stops on this route because it tends to be more lovely than one expects.
Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park September Festivals 2017
Not far from Rocky Mountain National Park lies beloved Estes Park, where visitors and locals alike celebrate life in the Colorado Rockies with special events throughout the year. Below are the events this month that you will want to pencil into your calendar!
Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival - September 7th through 10th
If you've never made it up the hill in the past three decades for this festival, this is the year! For 3 days, Estes Park becomes the setting for one of the nation's largest celebrations of Scottish and Irish cultures. Held annually the weekend after Labor Day, there are events such as jousting, bagpipes, dancers, precision drill teams and more. One of the weekend's highlights is the parade along Estes Park's main street.
Scottish Irish Shopping Markets will have a variety of vendors selling things such as clothing, kilts, accessories, home decor and highland-inspired jewelry. The Strong Man Competition on the festival field will allow athletes to show off their skills in the hammer throw, putting the stone and caber throwing. If something more traditional is what you enjoy, then the International Jousting Championships entertain with games and competition in both light and heavy armor. Dogs of the British Isles put on quite the show for the entire family, with dog agility and herding, terrier races and dog exhibit booths with goods.
Click HERE to purchase your ticket and for an event calendar for the weekend!
Autumn Gold Festival - September 23rd and 24th
Celebrate the changing of the seasons in one of the region's most beloved festivals! Everyone is welcome to enjoy the live music and dance for FREE, and the Estes Valley Sunrise Rotary will have bratwursts and cold drinks for purchase once inside. Other vendor booths will have treats such as corn on the cob, funnel cakes, roasted almonds and fresh lemonade; there's bound to be something for everyone.
The kiddos will be well entertained with face painting, corn bag tosses, a bounce house and classic car show. Perhaps the most popular portion of the festival is the raffle - entrants can take home prizes of $5,000 or $2,500 cash prizes, and various other cash and runner-up awards. Raffle tickets cost $25 each.
Performance Park Summer Concert Series, Mason Street - September 16th
Mason Street is a Fort Collins-bred bluegrass band that will be finishing up the Summer Concert Series at the Performance Park Amphitheater. The show goes from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, for FREE! Don't miss out...
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – The Beautiful Results of a Natural Disaster
There are spectacular reminders everywhere reminding us of nature's great power and all that it can do; and Rocky Mountain National Park has had it's fair share! Nature is constantly working to alter the park. whether it be over the course of a few hours or a few centuries. Below is one that you can see for yourself!
Alluvial Fan was created on July 15th, 1982, when Lawn Lake broke through a moraine that had held since the end of the last ice age. 29 million gallons of water were let loose, 3 lives were lost and in the end, Estes Park ended up beneath 6 feet of water. What remains of it today are giant boulders that were washed down with the flood, with sand and other debris spread out in it's wake.
If you visit, you can park in either of the lots that are right off the road. From there, explore along the rocks before heading to the east side, where you can get a better view from all sides. If you enjoy scrambling over the looks, be careful of loose ones and how slippery they can be. There are several paths that will take you deeper into the canyons, if you dare adventure further.
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Become a Park Podcaster!
With more people, families and groups venturing into Rocky Mountain National Park than ever before, you may be wondering how park rangers, staff and volunteers do it...
How do they keep all the pieces in place?
What challenges do they face?
And how can I help?
Thanks to Miles Barger, a visual information specialist for Rocky Mountain National Park, you can now learn so much more about the park and all the people who look after it. Throughout his career in park services, he has been constantly reminded of the deep love and curiosity that visitors have for national parks and wild places - but it isn't just about the wilderness itself. When it comes to national parks, visitors develop the same feelings for the people that look after them! With that in mind, Barger and his coworker Hope Ozolins created a team and a structure for a brand new podcast called Rocky Mountain National Podcast.
Listeners will enjoy 10 episodes per season, each one an hour long. The first season's focus will be on different park personnel, starting with some of the most beloved to park visitors; rangers and other educational and interpretive program leaders. He discusses things like why they became involved in national parks, what they do within Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the unique knowledge they impart on others. Personal stories blend with park information, news & updates, and specific information on planning a trip to the park."We are always looking for ways to reach other audiences and new tools to give people the information they want about the park," Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP, said.
Barger hopes to continue evolving the podcast to include a mini-series within the main season; shorter segments that focus on something more specific, like a research project or a current concern. The first 4 episodes are out already - take a listen for yourself!
Season 1, Episode 1: A Love of the Mountains with Kathy Brazelton
Join Kathy Brazelton, an East District Naturalist, in the Upper Beaver Meadows, as she shares her life as a ranger, ranger programs, various signs of spring and more.
Season 1, Episode 2: Chillin' in the Alpine with Cynthia Langguth
Ranger Cynthia Langguth teaches us about the interesting world of the alpine tundra. She'll teach about marmots, pika, ptarmigan and everything else in the land above the tree line...
Season 1, Episode 3: Gettin' Wild on Rocky's West Side
Explore all that the West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer with rangers Maci MacPherson and Michele Simmons!
Season 1, Episode 4: With Kyle Patterson
What does the Public Affairs Officer for RMNP actually do? Join Kyle Patterson and explore what he does, day in and day out; sharing news and messages, dealing with current issues at the park, and even how you can help keep the park beautiful for generations to come.
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Weekend RMNP Events
Need to make plans for the upcoming weekend? Look no further than Rocky Mountain National Park! There's always plenty going on to entertain those venturing alone, with friends or with the family...
Friday, July 28th
Lily Ridge Hike (2 miles) - 9:30 to 11:00 am - Lily Lake
Join in on this guided hike to Lily Lake and find how trails connect various rocky ridges, forests, meadows, Longs Peak and Lily Lake.
The Great American Solar Eclipse - 10:00 am to 12:00 pm - Kawuneeche Visitor Center
Are you traveling somewhere to view the Solar Eclipse in August? Come by the park and learn how a solar eclipse happens, what you might see and how to view this natural occurrence safely.
All About Lightning - 2:30 to 3:00 pm - Alpine Visitor Center
Learn all about why lightning is so important to know about, and how you can minimize your risk of being struck by lightning.
Exploring With a Camera - 1:30 to 3:00 pm - Timber Lake Trailhead
Whether you have lots of experience with photographing in nature or are just beginning to dive in, this is your chance to learn some valuable tips and improve your skills on a guided photography walk.
Bighorn Basics - 10:30 to 11:00 am - Sheep Lakes Information Station
Did you know that the Bighorn Sheep is the symbol of the Rocky Mountains themselves? Learn about this beautiful animal near Sheep Lakes; a popular place to view them.
Glacier Basic Campground Evening Program - 8:30 to 9:15 pm - Glacier Basin Campground Amphitheater
Various topics are discussed, both informative and fun! Dress warmly.
Holzwarth Historic Site - 10:30 am to 4:30 pm - Holzwarth Historic Site Parking Area
Help the park join Holzwarth Historic Site's 100th Birthday! While you're at it, take a tour of the 1920's-era dude ranch and get a taste of early homesteading.
Astronomy in the Park - 8:15 pm - Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead
Join a park ranger and the expert team of volunteer astronomers to observe and identify different elements and constellations in the night sky. Make sure to dress warmly and bring binoculars and a flashlight. A 30 minute program will be followed by viewing.
Old Ranch Campfire - 7:00 to 9:00 pm - Holzwarth Historic Site Parking Area
Bring the family or friends and roast marshmallows by the campfire. It does require a 1 mile walk to get to the campfire site, so dress warmly! Bring your own marshmallows and come equipped with campfire stories and songs.
Saturday, July 29th
Hike through History (3 miles) - 9:30 am to 12:30 pm - Colorado River Trailhead - FREE
Make your way along Colorado River on this calm 3-mile hike where you'll discover remnants of mining and ranching history. Bring anything you'd need to be well prepared for a hike of this length.
Sprague Lake Stroll (1 mile) - 9:30 to 11:00 am - Sprague Lake Picnic Area
Managing wild places within Rocky Mountain National Park is the topic of discussion on this guided hike. Enjoy the conversation of a ranger as you make your way around Sprague Lake.
Twilight Walk - 7:45 to 9:15 pm - Sprague Lake
If you love that magical twilight hour just before night settles in, don't miss this guided walk! You'll learn all about what the natural world is going as day transitions into night. Dress warmly and bring a flashlight.
Sunday, July 30th
Beyond the Falls (1 mile) - 2:15 to 3:45 pm - East Inlet Trailhead
Even been to Adams Falls? You'll enjoy this pleasant hike to Adams Falls and soak in the amazing view that lies just beyond it.
Mountain Wildflowers - 9:00 to 11:00 am - Kawuneeche Visitor Center Flagpole
A ranger will lead you & your caravan to see the best flowers that are currently blossoming and teach you all the reasons why they're so special.
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Photography in the Park
Erik Stensland, an Estes Park resident and photographer, visits Rocky Mountain National Park regularly to photograph all the beauty within; spring flowers, sunsets and waterfalls overflowing. Like many creative nature enthusiasts, Stensland prefers to wander outdoors in solitude.
"I just need silence to rethink things. It keeps me whole and sane. I need that time of personal reflection." - Erik Stensland
Though you aren't going to become his best hiking buddy, Stensland is willing to share some of his wisdom when it comes to taking photographs while venturing through the park. And it's advice you'll want to take!
Tip #1 - Timing is Everything
Aim to photograph your desired subject or area when the light is warm. If you can shoot within 15-20 minutes of sunrise or sunset, you'll be amazed by the results. More people prefer sunrise photos than sunset photos, due to the clarity during that time of day. Winds die down and urban activity slows significantly during the night, leaving a window of time just before and during sunrise that provides a more clean and clear atmosphere.
Tip #2 - What Are You Shooting?
It's easy to become distracted by everything around you and before you know it, you've taken 300 photos in the first 15 minutes of your hike and you're late for that sunrise shot you'd planned on getting! Before you head out, be very clear about what the subject of your image is. Why did you come out today? What did you hope to photograph? What was the overall feeling you wanted to convey with this image? Focus on one clear subject and you'll hike home feeling triumphant.
Tip #3 - Learn to Love Cloudy Days
Sure, it may go against your nature to hope for clouds in the sky as you pack up for a day outside. But in Stensland's opinion, if there aren't clouds in the sky, it isn't worth going out with your camera in tow. "Clouds really create the emotion in the image", he says. Subjects such as waterfalls and shadowy forested areas benefit greatly from the diffused light that grey skies bring. Clouds truly are nature's softbox, so take advantage of overcast days!
He sells his images online and in various galleries in New Mexico and Colorado. If you're more of a social media guru, he shares images daily on his Facebook and Twitter with inspiring messages attached for you to enjoy (free of charge!)
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – A Place to Meditate in Nature
Wouldn't it be nice to have a place where people can come together and commit to learning about the world around them in thoughtful, sincere way? Sitting on 180 acres near Ward, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center welcomes participants from near and far to do just that!
“For me in this dark time, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center will be a shining beacon I can trust. I see it offering what we most need: the inspired leadership of committed teachers, a wild mountain setting to awaken our own power and beauty, the ripening of a Sangha to grow a guiding vision for our people, and the strength to make it real.” - Joanna Macy, Ph.D Engaged Buddhist teacher
(Video Credit: Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center)
The land is composed of a private river, meadows and woodlands adjacent to the Arapahoe National Forest and mere miles from the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Their mission is to provide a space for low-cost meditation retreats and workshops, surrounded by and focused on nature. The scheduled programs that the group is most excited about are:
Open House Activity Day - July 16th - Join in for a full day filled with community, mindfulness and the beautiful nature that the center sits on. Families are welcome and the event is free, though donations are always appreciated.
Ecodharma Retreat with David Loy & Johann Robbins - August 4th through 13th - This meditation retreat encourages exploration into social consciousness and promoting caring, wisdom and compassion rather than anxiety and anger.
The center has no paid staff and runs solely with the help of many volunteers, giving their time and expertise to the cause. Click HERE to learn more about the team, their volunteers, and how you can become involved.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – GRAND DITCH LEAK
Rocky Mountain National Park staff was notified last Saturday night that an old culvert in Grand Ditch is leaking at the intersection of Lady Creek and Grand Ditch. The company who operates the Grand Ditch (Water Supply and Storage Company) have made temporary repairs to reduce the leakage and have opened head gates to reduce water flow. The additional water is being rerouted to the Kawuneeche Valley.
Needless to say, RMNP staff quickly began assessing any immediate and potential impacts to trails and bridges in the Kawuneeche Valley as a result.
The Colorado River Trail is flooded approximately 0.6 miles from the trailhead, just beyond the Red Mountain Junction. A sign cautioning conditions was posted at the trailhead, and the staff assures additional assessments are ongoing.
In addition, that was increased sediment movement near Shadow Mountain Reservoir, though it's unclear exactly how much earth was moved in the event.
Grand Ditch Road is currently closed to pedestrians, but there are no other closures in place at this time. Long Draw Road, which leads to this area from just outside RMNP, is closed this time of year - it is still set to open for the season in early July.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – THE ROCKY PLEDGE
The staff and volunteers of Rocky Mountain National Park, do their best to provide park visitors with experiences of a lifetime. But they can't do it without you! How can you help?
- Take the Rocky Pledge (see below). You can read it aloud or to yourself, in the park or at home, alone or with friends. All we ask: read it thoughtfully and take it seriously.
- Encourage your followers to protect Rocky. Share a photo of yourself taking the pledge, encircling something meaningful to you in your hands, or doing something to protect the park to your social media of choice and tag it #rockypledge. If you’re on Instagram, there’s a chance you’ll get hundreds of thousands of eyes on your photo—we’ll regularly repost our favorite #rockypledge shots!
- Tell your friends and family: Take the Rocky Pledge! Visit go.nps.gov/RockyPledge to learn more.
THE ROCKY PLEDGE
“To preserve unimpaired for this and future generations the beauty, history, and wildness therein, I pledge to protect Rocky Mountain National Park.”
To prevent fire scars and human-caused fires, I pledge to never build a fire outside of a campground or picnic area fire ring.
To respect other visitors’ experiences, if I need to go but am not near a restroom, I pledge to leave no trace by stepping well away from the trail and water sources, burying my waste at least six inches deep or packing it out in a waste bag, and carrying out my toilet paper.
To respect Rocky’s wild creatures and to protect myself, I pledge to watch wildlife from a distance that doesn’t disturb them in any way. I will never feed an animal—doing so causes it harm.
To respect history, heritage, and natural processes, I pledge to remove nothing from the park except my own and others’ trash. I will leave no trace of my visit so that the next person can experience the same beauty as I did.
To keep my pet, wildlife, and other visitors safe, I pledge to keep my leashed pet only on roads, in campgrounds, and in picnic and parking areas. I will never take my dog on Rocky’s trails, meadows, or tundra areas.
To preserve them for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations, I pledge to honor, respect, and protect all our national parks and public lands.
We've taken the pledge - how about you?
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – PARK CAMPGROUNDS OPEN
Despite the six feet of snow that some areas of the mountains received late this month, 4 out of 5 campgrounds within Rocky Mountain National Park are open and ready! The ever-changing weather is something we love about our state; one day we're buried in snow, the next it's melted and made way for sunshine and warmth..
Because these campgrounds are inside the park itself, the sites are reserved well in advance. Get a jump on it and line everything up for the beginning of summer!
Aspenglen Campground - 54 sites total - 12 tent only - 5 walk to
With equal amounts of shade and sunshine, this campground is popular for family tent camping and RVs alike. There are also several sites that you must walk to which provide a more secluded and serene experience for those looking to get away from the hustle. Seasonal inclusions/services: Firewood and ice for sale, food storage lockers, trash & recycling collection, amphitheater use, staff or volunteer host on site, potable water, and flush toilets. There are no showers at this campground.
Glacier Basin Campground - 147 sites total - 73 tent only - 13 group sites
Enjoy lots of grass, shrubbery and season wildflowers that sprout in nearby meadows. Certain loops have lost nearly all of their trees due to Pine Beetle damage, so be mindful of that when reserving a site in Loops C & D. Group sites are available as well, so you can bring the whole crew! Seasonal inclusions/services include: Dump station, firewood and ice for sale, food storage locker, trash/recycling collection, potable water, staff or volunteer on site, amphitheater use.
Moraine Park Campground - 247 sites total - 101 tent only - 49 walk to
Located near the Beaver Meadows entrance on Highway 36, Moraine Park Campground offers gorgeous views of the park and surrounding mountains and hillsides. If you're looking to explore nearby civilization as well, there are free shuttles that connect the campground to Bear Lake trailheads and Estes Park restaurants and shops. Seasonal services/inclusions include: Dump station, firewood and ice for sale, amphitheater, staff or volunteer on site, potable water, flush toilets, and vault toilets.
Timber Creek Campground - 98 sites total
Timber Creek is the only campground on the west side of the park, and is about 8 miles north of the Grand Lake entrance, right along the Colorado River. All sites are first-come, first-served; reservations won't help you here! Due to a Pine Beetle infestation, all the trees were removed from the campground so no shade can be found. Seasonal services/inclusions include: Dump station, firewood for sale, trash/recycling collection, amphitheater, staff or volunteer on site, potable water, and flush toilets.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – PERSONAL MARATHONS THROUGH NATIONAL PARKS
Just before Colorado's last snowstorm rolled through, Bill Sycalik from New York City was running through Rocky Mountain National Park on his quest to complete what he calls a "life experience project"; to run a 26.2 mile personal marathon in all 59 U.S. national parks."When I left New York City, I never thought that I would ever do anything like this," Sycalik said. "I never thought that I would break out of that typical corporate lifestyle."
He was unhappy living in the big apple, where he felt detached from nature and all of the wilderness that he enjoyed most. In an effort to push past his own limits and reconnect with the great outdoors, he decided to get back to his love for trail-running and visit as many national parks as he could in the process. But that wasn't quite challenging enough for Sycalik..
Instead, he decided he would run a 26.2 mile personal marathon through each of the parks on a course of he designed with the help of park rangers and topographers.
(Video Credit: Bill Sycalik)
For those of us who do not run marathons regularly, the entire feat is very impressive. Sycalik emphasizes that truly anyone has the ability and grit to complete a marathon! Transferring your movement over to a trail instead of a paved track is when the entire thing goes from mundane to magical."It gives you an energy that you don't get running in a gym..", he says.
But no one said it was easy. People train for marathons, and it's worthwhile to note that it takes practice and repetition, like everything else in life. Find someone to help coach you and begin slowly conditioning yourself, working up to that 26.2 mile marker. Approaching it expecting immediate results will likely discourage you from continuing on at all.
Running in the outdoors and along uneven terrain is excellent for the body, too. Not only is it more physically stimulating but mentally stimulating as well. "You're part of nature," Sycalik says. "You're actually part of the surroundings, as we had been for thousands of years, but we've forgotten about it. And it gets you connected to that again."
During his run through Rocky Mountain National Park, he encountered some of Colorado's wildlife, including deer, elk, bison and bears. In the coming days, pictures from his trip to RMNP will be added to other galleries of the beautiful places he's been on this trip.
(Photo Credits: Bill Sycalik)
Once his journey is complete and all the national parks have been visited, Sycalik plans to settle in the Denver area and remain close to friends. His dream would be to work in an industry he is passionate about, such as outdoor clothing or vegan nutrition.
We'll look forward to welcoming someone to our colorful state that is so clearly Colorado at heart!
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – ANNUAL ENDANGERED SPECIES DAY SPECIAL PROGRAM
Mark your calendars, because May 19th is Endangered Species Day; a time to recognize national conservation efforts to protect our nation's endangered species and their habitats. Established in 2006 by the US Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our wildlife and wild places. The goal is to highlight the importance of continued protection and ways we can all help to rehabilitate threatened and endangered animal and plant species.
Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, hundreds of species have been saved from extinction, and many more continue to thrive thanks to the act. Rocky Mountain National Park invites anyone and everyone to attend a special program at 7pm on Friday, May 19th at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.They'll be showing the award-winning film, Racing Extinction, to spread awareness on the international wildlife trade. Viewers will also see how ordinary people do extraordinary things to save vulnerable species on the land and in the sea.
For more information about the event, please contact the park's Information Center at 970-586-1206.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – ESTES PARK MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL
There's a brand new bluegrass festival in town! If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, head up to Estes Park for their inaugural Mountain Music Festival on Saturday, May 13th from 12 - 9pm. Held in the Estes Park Events Complex, this festival will feature both national and local bands, and promises to be a great time for everyone.
The event is a fundraising effort for the Estes Park School District's various music programs, which include the state champion marching bands, middle and high school bands, middle and high school choirs, and elementary music programs. It is truly a grass-roots effort, organized for and by the community of Estes Park. Community sponsors include The Rock Inn, Snowy Peaks Winery, Twin Owls Steakhouse, Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria, Inwell & Brew, Estes Park News, and many more. The festival's aim is to combat low funding in music programs and get ahead of the ever-increasing costs of such programs.
"There is a large body of evidence showing that a quality music program raises test scores, (and supports) higher level thinking and performance in many other core areas, as well as social inclusion," says Cynda Basch, Estes Park High School secretary.
Estes Park's Mountain Music Festival lineup is below...
Front Country - Headliner, Americana
Rapidgrass - High-Energy Bluegrass
Bonnie and the Clydes - Rocky Mountain Country Soul
Chain Station - High-Energy String Band
Monocle Band - Bluegrass Fusion
Bella Betts and Will Thomas - Bluegrass Prodigies
Tickets are available for purchase HERE online. Want to make it into a weekend getaway? Click HERE to check out local lodging options that allow you to soak up the Estes sun all weekend long.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK SERIES – BEAR SCAT HELPS REBUILD RMNP NATURAL RESOURCES
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Get Your Lifetime Senior Pass!
The National Park Service Centennial Act was approved by Congress in December of 2016. In short, the legislation raises entry fees to all 417 national parks and over 2,000 recreational sites that are managed by the federal government. It's not all about jacking up prices needlessly, though; an endowment will be established and the funds used to improve the experience of visitors to such locations, and support opportunities for volunteering in parks all over the U.S.
In an attempt to remain transparent and ever-honest, park services have announced that the lifetime pass for citizens 62 years and older will jump from $10 to $80 very soon. They're encouraging anyone who wants to enjoy the national parks and public space to act within the next few months or risk losing out on the lower price!
(Denali National Park, Alaska)
How to Get a Senior Pass
You must be 62 at the time of purchase to qualify for the Senior Pass. You'll need an ID in order to prove your age and residency, too. The most economic option is to purchase the pass in person - find the ideal location by clicking HERE. If you'd rather not make the trip, you may also apply online HERE, but it will cost you an additional $10 for processing.
Don't wait too long - take advantage of the heads up today! Use the images below of U.S. National Parks as inspiration to take action...
(Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
(Yosemite National Park, California)
(Zion National Park, Utah)