Laughing children, teens streaming out of the cafeteria, and elk grazing peacefully on the lawn greeted me as I made my way to check in to the YMCA of the Rockies, a venerable and sprawling retreat cupped in a mountainous bowl sidled up against Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Fall is weeks away, yet it's not too early to start planning for your fall or winter excursion. Traveler's Essential Park Guide, Fall 2016, takes a closeup look at Everglades and Shenandoah national parks, and looks farther afield to Costa Rica and Manuel Antonio National Park where you'll find sloths and toucans.
Work is underway in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to repair damage to trails that occurred in September 2013 when torrential rains swept the park.
In a word, you could say the National Park System is "busy" this summer. From Acadia National Park in Maine to North Cascades National Park in Washington State, visitation to the parks is high. But that doesn't mean you'll encounter crowds everywhere you go.
Rocky Mountain National Park officials, who saw more than 4 million visitors last year, are on pace to see even more this year, and hope they all are careful, and smart, about the ways they enjoy their stay.
Running more than 160 pages, the National Park Service Management Policies provides park managers with quick reference to how they are to manage their units, what uses are appropriate, and how to usher visitors out of the park when Congress fails to fund the National Park Service. But the Management Policies, which last were updated in 2006, also leave much to interpretation and exception.
Despite increasing fire danger in the West, some visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park are turning a blind eye to the danger and lighting illegal campfires, according to park officials.
Proper preparation often makes the difference between merely seeing some good birds and coming home with a trip list bursting at the seams and a few lifers to boot. It’s easy to enjoy a birding trip without studying your field guides and knowing your geography, but to many birders the prep is half the fun.
Finally. The long days of summer are upon us in Estes Park, the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s plenty of daylight to really put some miles under your boots, take a hike with your kids and listen to nature, or even take a multi-day backpack trip to the high lakes and solitude. There’s a hike for every skill level, and every length of stay, from the lazy amble to epic mountaineer routes.
In 2015, Rocky Mountain National Park was the third-most visited national park with over 4.1 million visitors. So far this year, Rocky is experiencing an 11 percent increase in visitation. Over the last 100 years, the reasons people visit are the same; to experience nature, to seek solitude, to enjoy scenic grandeur, to watch wildlife, and to partake in outstanding recreational activities.