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Old 05-28-2013, 09:19 AM
3,493 posts, read 4,704,040 times
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Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Particularly since the advent of Europeans into the region, the animals native to RMNP have often been dramatically influenced. Populations of beaver have been significantly diminished, with renewed threats even to this day.
If you think we had a negative impact on the indigenous animals on this continent, you should read about what our ancestors did to the people.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:55 PM
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Wink Wildfire — & a most regrettable road

Some thoughts and observations on the 2012 Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park. But, first, brief comments on the ongoing Bear Lake Road construction project.

Anyone having visited RMNP since last summer will understand that this park has a large road "improvement" project on Bear Lake Road. It begins just beyond the main entrance station where Bear Lake Road tees off of US 36, and extends I do not know how far (as not having traveled as far recently).

What few may appreciate is that none of this was needed or warranted. The existing road was perfectly fine as was.

Years ago I noticed some surveying flags here and there off the side of Bear Lake Road in the region of Moraine Park. In asking several RMNP rangers about this, I was told not to worry as these were incidental, and all they intended to do was modify a short stretch of this road farther up along Glacier Creek, and in fact entirely moving the route of the road there. They lied to me. Obviously far more was intended, and since been implemented.

Yesterday I only bothered to drive about as far as the Moraine Park turnoff, but even in that short distance readily apparent what they have been up to. This road has been widened, repaved, its shoulders entirely regraded for many yards beyond the pavement to bare ground. In many places the edges of the asphalt are now fronted by concrete curbs.

Contrast this to roads elsewhere in the park and the difference is obvious. More usually elsewhere but a simple two-lane road ends beyond painted white lines with dirt and gravel sloping off into the grass and brush which often grows close to its edge.

Not on Bear Lake Road, not any longer. And one might remember that NONE of this was needed. None of it, nor the diversion.

As well that the National Park Service, as I recall, currently has a backlog of some $6,000,000,000 in deferred maintenance, unfunded. Yet seemingly plenty of money for this unwarranted road project in RMNP which has resulted in significant inconvenience for all park visitors trying to use it.

As well, the closure of the Glacier Basin campground, representing about 1/4 quarter of all established campgrounds in RMNP. The park says this campground closed for the summer of 2013 due this road construction project; I hear they would have closed it anyway to meet sequester cutbacks. Either way, it is closed and park visitors inconvenienced to this extent due money—spent elsewhere. I also happened to notice that the Aspenglen campground (at the north entrance), this early in June, is already listed as full.

The Moraine Park visitor's center, traditionally open every summer, is closed. Purportedly due a lack of money and the cutbacks RMNP must make.

None of this has resulted in any improvement to RMNP, or visitor's experience or enjoyment of it. Indeed, degraded it, and will continue to do so in that monstrosity of a road. One that is costing all taxpayers a small fortune.


Anyway, the greater purpose of my visit that day was to look at the Big Thompson River and ascertain to what extent the 2012 Fern Lake Fire may have affected it.

I can report that while damage from this wildfire is evident, surprisingly less than one might expect. That most obvious at first in driving towards the Fern Lake Trailhead is that this wildfire did indeed burn across most of Moraine Park. But not to either side of it, up into the trees on the flanks of surrounding mountains. The meadow burned, but is already lushly green with new grass. Some willows did not burn, many others did, and they are either mostly gone as black stumps or as blackened limbs. The few trees that grew in that valley as well, and now often well blackened. Thus this meadow now very much a picture of recent wildfire and rapid renewal in some quarters.

This wildfire burned in the east to the edge of Bear Lake Road. At a moment it was feared it would pass beyond to nearby US 66, with the YMCA and other residences there briefly evacuated. But the greater extent of this wildfire lies to the west, where it began. To the north and south it extends to the edges of Moraine Park. Beyond there to the west its vertical extent expands to roughly twice that in reaching up along the Big Thompson watershed. From beyond the feature on this river known as 'The Pool' (and marked as such on official RMNP tourist maps, as well a sign at the wooden pedestrian bridge there) is the juncture with the Spruce Canyon watershed. The greater extent of this wildfire extends up along the Big Thompson River in Forest Canyon for about 1.5 miles from that confluence.

Beyond Moraine Park proper, and in driving towards the Fern Lake Trailhead, one can see some signs of this wildfire. For instance in some of the aspen bordering this narrow dirt road having burned. But from the trailhead on the impression often is that there was no wildfire at all. The fire maps one might find showing the extent of this wildfire are to an extent fiction. For this wildfire was not uniform, having skipped many places. From the trailhead to the 'The Pool' is 1.7 miles. In that distance along this hiking trail one will see little sign of fire damage.

Shortly beyond the trailhead, to the south, there is visible sign of a large swath of burned trees high up near the ridge. But this area isolated and not reaching down all that far. A couple other smaller areas that one will pass on this path.

That to greatest extent and most obvious comes shortly before 'The Pool,' and in extent reaches up from both sides of the river. Particularly on the south bank of the river, this area is badly burned and reaches from the water up nearly to the high ridge above.

Still, the greater impression is that this wildfire thankfully was not all inclusive, and that the majority of trees and all other vegetation in this river canyon either escaped entirely or was singed but here and there.

It might be noted as well that the course of the Big Thompson River farther downstream through Estes Park exhibits a fair degree of algae. In fact, a lot of it, and far more than is ever natural. This indicates an excess of nutrients in the water; by their nature these mountain rivers tend to have little.

The source of this can be nitrates and other substances from such as airborne pollutants or sewage. One might suspect as well the many nutrients released from such a wildfire and now into the river. Indeed there are at least some places upriver where one can find blackened wood, basically charcoal, apparently from this wildfire, and having washed up alongside this river.

But that theory would seem not to hold water. For even in the lower reaches of Moraine Park the water appears unaffected by this. Upriver of the trailhead there is no doubt of this, and the Big Thompson River obviously little affected by this wildfire. Whether that may change at times in the future is an open question. Yet areas well upriver have already washed soil and this black wildfire debris into the river, as apparently so at its very banks. Yet this river remains remarkably pristine. Its water is clear, its rock bed plainly visible save the deepest depths. And this during high spring runoff when the water might be expected to be most turbid.

Yet something decidedly amiss downriver in Estes Park. The tourists may never notice as much, or think all this neon green algae natural. But in venturing even a few miles upriver they would then appreciate the distinct difference—and that it is simply not present. The river rocks are clean, save the lichen happily upon them. The water naturally pure, crisp and clean to taste and touch.

Or as it should be, and this park there to protect as much for all inhabitants and those that might enjoy such natural, untrammeled, beauty.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:10 PM
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Wink Road closure, affected river & elk

The Old Fall River Road in RMNP is currently closed. A portion of it was washed out due heavy rain (a ranger told me that locally there was about 1.5 inches there). He expected this road to reopen possibly later tomorrow, once re-graded.

There also happens to be, possibly from this same storm or rains last night, a sizable patch of new snow visible high up, in the general direction of this road's terminus at the Alpine Visitor's Center.

The Fall River (as observed at the upper Endo Valley picnic area) is presently running muddy. I might more accurately say somewhat muddy, only this state notable because the river at this location always runs crystal clear. The only time I have ever seen it anything less was once during a very heavy rain, when just slightly turbid—and then for the same reason as now: The Old Fall River Road (or, more precisely, due practices of the NPS). A portion of that road may have washed into the river now, but in driving this dirt road often closely paralleling the Fall River, one will notice that drainage is left to its own devices. Or that there are more than a few places that water running off goes directly into the river, versus any attempts to direct same to areas where vegetation could be of some assistance. RMNP has been aware of this for some time.

As also the season, the elk would appear to be moving downslope. Maybe some still up there, but in July one might run across good sized groups along the upper alpine reaches of Trail Ridge Road. Today, with some rain, in and near Hidden Valley, there was one bull with a good size rack (who seemingly had the good sense to quickly disappear), along with at minimum two cows with one youngster each in tow. They were outflanked and outnumbered by two-legged wildlife with cameras. Fortunately the elk didn't seem to mind in the least, as surely used to this type of thing, and as well followed anywhere they browsed near a roadway with a close following throng, very much as mosquitoes might avidly haunt any camper.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:13 PM
Location: Pittsburgh
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Not sure if this is right place to post this, but I visited RMNP last month for the first time and loved it. I only got to see from the valley and up to the visitor center.

Im going back in a week and really want to experience it better than I did originally, where would you recommend checking out? Im a photographer so any awesome areas with great photo points would be great as well. Just curious how much I missed out on.

Can't wait to see the moose again.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:01 PM
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Wink (some) scenic options of RMNP

If you only got as far as the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, then missing the better part of the park. Even just beyond at the main entrance station a magnificent view is afforded of the mountain backdrop.

Most anywhere in Estes Park or RMNP will provide ample scenic opportunities. Those most easily reached are naturally via the roads. One would not be amiss in traveling the length of Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake (road open seasonally until first serous snow). And even though it is a huge pain traveling it presently due RMNP's ill-advised road expansion project, well worth it as well to travel up Bear Lake Road to its terminus at Bear Lake. Great scenery along the way, and, from where the road ends, trailheads with great hiking opportunities towards more.

If as far as Grand Lake, take the brief detour to visit Grand Lake Lodge. Its entrance off US 34 lies between the west entrance of RMNP and the town of Grand Lake. One of the originals, this lodge resides high above Grand Lake to the north. Spectacular views out over Grand Lake and the mountains of RMNP are afforded.

In the same vein, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is quite well situated. After a day of it, and perhaps on their veranda with a drink in one's hand, a quite fine view of the mountains just to the west is served, complimentary.
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:05 PM
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Wink RMNP at 365?

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
— Mark Twain, a Biography

Last I heard, our elected representatives have decided to close up shop in Washington, D.C. Some may miss them, or not.

But although I have not yet checked in person, it is also my understanding that the professed stewards of OUR national parks have peremptorily decided to shut them down as well. Some may question this, as somehow escaping the attention of our caretakers that we the American people own these national parks, not them. And at their discretion they have the effrontery to lock us out?

Perhaps a reordering is in order in DC. To what end yet to be seen. With perhaps one aspect of that not only how the place is run—but also in knowing their proper place.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:14 PM
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Wink A knife through purse and liberty

'A University of Missouri professor, David has stage 4 cancer, and he said he felt certain this week would be last time to see the mountains and deep, craggy canyons that inspire his soul.

"It's not right," he said of the congressional inaction that closed the park. "These parks belong to the people. I don't think they know what they're doing, all the people they're hurting directly and indirectly."

An interesting article about some of the local effects, specifically in Estes Park, of this federal shutdown.

The greater effects on the national economy are not insubstantial either: our national park system welcomed 279 million visitors in 2011, with that resulting in $13 billion in tourist dollars spent within a 60 mile radius of these parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park alone had nearly 3.2 million visitors in 2011. I believe that figure is much the same for 2012, and was on line (until this recent flooding) to see as much again in 2013. For a national park which welcomed but 30,000 visitors at its inception in 1915, RMNP is arguably more than a bit congested of late, with the entire region (save business owners) benefitting from a more harmonious balance. But in pure dollars this represented $196.1 million to the local economy in a given year. An area, it might be noted, with an economy revolving around tourism, and few other options.

Nor has this federal shutdown affected only national parks. In federal grasslands, wilderness areas, the parks and other entities, in whole a good third, or 36 percent of Colorado is affected and effectively prohibited to the owners—we the American people—of it.

Grand Lake fortunately did not suffer the severity of the flooding the Estes Park region recently did. But it will now suffer no less than Estes Park in lost tourism revenue through no more than the political artifice of others well removed. There are business owners in Estes Park that could survive the recent record flooding, but may well not the dictates of their distant leaders. Of the two disasters, that of nature may prove to be far less cruel.

A few years ago I noticed the new installation of road closure gates, never before there, just west of the RMNP Beaver Meadows visitor center. At the time, I asked around and the best explanation they could come up with was that these were only in the event of heavy snows or snow plowing or something. Yet I questioned even then why gates would ever be needed for a national park which is supposed to remain open 24/7, 365 days a year.

The better answer is provided now. Our elected leaders feel at ever greater liberty to either lock us down (and to the extent of entire cities), or just out. One need only try and visit one of our national parks to get that message loud and clear.

1) 'Beleaguered Estes Park feels the pain of neighboring park's closure,' The Denver Post
Beleaguered Estes Park feels the pain of neighboring park's closure - The Denver Post
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:17 PM
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Wink RMNP open for now

Rocky Mountain National Park has reopened—if perhaps briefly.

The state of Colorado has agreed to pay $40,300 per day towards operating expenses to keep RMNP open. Until October 20th, that is, and then unknown. Trail Ridge Road will be plowed and open as well. As the higher portions of this road customarily close for the winter in later October, perhaps the 20th is its new closure date. As said, unknown. If at present all of RMNP is open, including such popular attractions as the trailheads at Bear Lake.*

If tapering off in autumn, visitor numbers to Estes Park and RMNP generally remain relatively high into November. The number of visitors at present is below normal due recent flooding and the closure of RMNP (until now), thanks to Washington, D.C.

The better part of Estes Park has largely recovered from the recent flooding in September, and open for business. For now, access from the west and Grand Lake is via Trail Ridge Road. Access from the Front Range is from the south into Estes Park on CO 7, with most ready access to that and the greater Peak to Peak road from Boulder and up Boulder canyon on CO 119 to Nederland.

* Have not checked in person, but a possibility the road towards the far end of the Endo Valley and beginning of the Old Fall River road may not be entirely open, due recent flooding. The Roaring River, descending down from Lawn Lake to the north, seems to have charted a new course and likely damaged this road in places.

1) 'More than 10,000 visit Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend after reopening,' The Coloradoan
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Old 10-18-2013, 07:20 PM
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$40,300 per day? Really? For what? There isn't anything there. What costs $40k+ a day to run? Is there some kind of hidden service that I don't see? Wood nymphs? What the hell costs that much in RMNP? Are the elk paid to stand in the road and beg for food? Carry signs "Eat more chicken"? What am I missing? I must know.
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:45 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,793 posts, read 37,464,612 times
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Originally Posted by freewest View Post
$40,300 per day? Really? For what? ...What am I missing? I must know.
very simple... The Federal Government runs the park... $40k/day is not even a blip on their 'inefficiency index'. There are MILLIONS of federal 'projects' that cost YOU a bundle.

& About to go WAY up...

I grew up next to RMNP and sometimes there daily (commuted over Trail Ridge Road for one job). It's been eating revenue for a LONG time, but has a bit of value too...

Just WAIT till the Feds get a taste of $40k / day income from Colorado, and similar for UT... They have a 'Profit' motive now!
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