September into the heart of November are my favorite months in the National Park System. The days aren’t quite as long as they are in July and August, but the bugs and crowds are on the wane, wildlife is on the move, and the crisp night air is perfect for sleeping under the stars, or in a cozy cabin.
Rocky Mountain National Park
A recent survey here at National Parks Traveler asked how far travelers ventured from the parking lots at national parks. I had some trouble answering that, given that I believe too many people are bound to their vehicles, while on the other hand I tend to hang out in parking lots.
A new resource from The Wilderness Society is proving how far-reaching a critical land conservation program has been in its 50-year history. From major national parks in America’s western states to neighborhood playgrounds in the nation’s cities, thousands of open spaces in America have been made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). But this critical funding for conservation is set to expire in less than 80 days unless Congress acts quickly.
The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, in partnership with Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, will hold a special art show and sale August 13-16, at the historic Stanley Hotel Concert Hall.
There’s more to Rocky Mountain National Park than the extraordinary views from Trail Ridge Road. Willow-choked streams, open meadows, pine forests, and all the edges where those habitats meet make for a park bursting with birding opportunities. After a not particularly spectacular time up in the tundra, I enjoyed a couple wonderful birding days in two very different habitats last month. This is the story of the first of those days.
Night sky star-gazing programs are spreading across the National Park System, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is not about to be left behind. Later this month the park will feature a series of family-friendly night sky programs.
The Old Fall River Road is a popular route with visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park who are looking for a scenic drive at a slower pace, but the historic road was badly damaged by major flooding in September 2013. Thanks to emergency funding, repairs to the road have been completed in time for the traditional July 4 seasonal opening of the drive.
There are two essentials for the birder exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. First, make time to look for the tundra birds along the eleven miles of Trail Ridge Road above tree line. Secondly, and even more importantly, make absolutely certain at least one licensed driver in the car does NOT suffer from acrophobia.
As the name implies, Rocky Mountain National Park includes plenty of rocks, but a fall by a hiker in unusually rugged terrain led to a lengthy and challenging rescue earlier this week. By the time the fourteen-hour operation ended, over forty rescuers had helped lower the victim a distance that equalled the height of the tallest buildings in the country.
Perhaps in a nod to Rocky Mountain National Park's centennial celebration this year, park officials are raising entrance fees, but not until October first, with higher camping fees arriving in 2016.