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Rocky Mountain National Park Series - December 3rd Full Moon Hike

by Cory Dudley

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!

Rocky Mountain National Park Series - Park Closures for Elk Protection

by Cory Dudley

 

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 Weekend

by Cory Dudley

 

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....

 

Hidden Valley

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. 

 

 

Twin Sisters

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. 

 

Fairview Curve

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! 

 

 

Kawuneeche Valley

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

by Cory Dudley

 

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 - Become a Park Podcaster!

by Cory Dudley

 

 

 

 

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 2Chillin' 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 - Photography in the Park

by Cory Dudley

 

 

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!) 

 

 

 

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! 

 

 

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. 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Estes Park is thought to be the 'Gateway to the Rockies'; the ideal base camp for someone who enjoys exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, but wants to end the day in civilization with a cold local brew and a delicious meal. And spring is a beautiful time of year to visit! Forget about the headache of planning a weekend getaway - we've got you covered..

 

Friday

3:00 pm - Check into the historic Stanley Hotel, Castle Mountain Lodge or the River Stone Suites for the weekend.

 

 

5:30 pm - Visit Rock Cut Brewing 

Check out one of Estes' beloved craft beer additions and see what all the fuss is about. Their brews will cool you down and when paired with the delicious bites from the Two Chicks food truck, you can't go wrong! 

 

Saturday

6:30 am - Yellow Wood Guiding in RMNP 

Yellow Wood Guiding offers many different tour options in the park, depending on the time of day and type of tour you'd like to embark on. Options include: wildlife, sunrise, flowers and waterfalls. The Estes organization takes you above and beyond the typical 'point and shoot' type of tour, so be sure you bring along your top-notch camera! 

 

10:30 am - Brunch at Claire's Restaurant 


 

Claire's is considered a must-do by locals and visitors alike, thanks to their high quality and fresh menu items, and the beautiful views. Give their Signature Bacon Bloody Mary a try, which we've been told pairs nicely with the Cuban Benedict... Yum.

 

1:00 pm - Downtown Shopping Spree

 

 

All along Elkhorn Drive is considered to be the heart of Estes Park, AKA Downtown. There you'll find many locally owned restaurants and shops, which feel as though they may have been frozen in time. While you can find saltwater taffy, there is also an emerging, cool vibe in the area. For a classy cup o' joe, visit Inkwell & Brew; a shop that combines their love for handmade fountain pens and stationary with cappucino and pour-overs. 

Once you've got your drink in hand, head over to the Macdonald Book Shop. It's 1928 historically bones fit right into the downtown scenery, but their collection is anything but stale - they specialize in hiking and nature guides, and a wide variety of general fiction and non fiction.

Earthwood Artisans should have the perfect item to take home and remind you of your weekend getaway. Works created by 120 American artists are available for sale, and each are unique all in their own. Shop for jewelry, metal art, paintings, photography, pottery and woodworking pieces.

 

6:30 pm - Dinner at Dunraven Inn

Whether you live in Estes Park or you're just visiting from somewhere else, Dunraven offers a romantic environment and a great meal. Their wine list is extensive, and their staff is happy to suggest pairings and recommendations to anyone and everyone. Entrees are homemade and prepared with fresh ingredients. Be sure you check out the dollar bills on the wall - patrons have been signing and placing them there for years, and when one falls off, the Dunraven's owner donates it to charity! 

 

 

Sunday

7:00 am - Donut Haus 

Donut Haus has been happily serving Estes Park for over 30 years now. Handmade pastries are made fresh daily, and when they're sold out - that's all for today! Whether you're in the mood for one of Katy's Mountain Muffins or a Pinecone (the Estes Park spin on a bearclaw), Donut Haus has just what you're craving. 

 

8:00 am - Snowshoeing at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is among the park's most iconic destinations, and the perfect place for taking in snowy views from your snowshoes. Before you head out into the wilderness, check out The Warming House. The adventure outfitting shop offers gear rentals, advice on where to go and what to see, and even guided tours if you'd prefer that.

 

 

1:00 pm - Moon Kats Tea Shoppe

Warm up before your drive back home with a little something from Moon Kats Tea Shoppe! Enjoy chai, fine teas, housemade pastries, soups and pastries. The perfect way to recharge after your hike and before the trek back to reality.

 

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