Not long into the development of the world’s first national park system, ranchers in and around the valley floor of Estes Park, Colorado, came to an obvious realization: keeping guests happy was easier, and more profitable, than cattle.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. The visitor center is the highest in the National Park Service, sitting at 11,796 feet above sea level. Spring storms often impact plowing activities. Plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet tall.
National Parks. They are places of wonderment. They spark our curiosity, help us relax, and can keep us in shape. They offer thousands of miles of hiking trails, majestic vistas, deep woods, rushing streams, and quite literally an open-air zoo of wildlife that relies on these landscapes to thrive and, in some cases, merely survive.
Rising before the sun, I was out the cabin door not long after its rays started cascading on the Continental Divide. The early departure was necessary to catch the gentle morning light warming the landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park. I also wanted to snag a parking spot at Bear Lake and head up the trail.
Charges of wildlife mismanagement by the staff at Point Reyes National Seashore are being leveled in the wake of the deaths of more than 200 Tule elk caused, apparently, by a lack of water inside their fenced preserve.
One incident of vandalism in the National Park System has been resolved, agents continue to investigate a more high-profile, and wide-spread case in which a woman used acrylic paint to create images in parks across the West.
A long-standing prohibition against mountain biking in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park will be lifted – just a little – in the next few months.
Modern technology, including cell phones and helicopters, can be a mixed blessing when emergencies occur in remote locations in parks. The downside is some people will expect quick results when things go awry, and due to weather, terrain or other factors, cell phones don't always work, and helicopters aren't always available. When everything comes together, however, those modern devices can make a big difference for rescuers and victims alike.
2014 was a record-setting year for attendance in the National Park System, where nearly 293 million visitors spent time, a jump of more than 5 million from the record year of 1999, according to official figures. While most of the "name brand" parks were packed, there were still some sites in the system where you could find some solitude.
It's going to cost you a little bit more to head into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain Nationa Park for overnight stays beginning this summer, when the permit fee climbs from $20 to $26 per trip.