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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!

MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY - Journey to the Mountain Life

by Cory Dudley

We love Colorado for the people, the lifestyle, our incredible landscapes and the endless opportunities to explore them. I think if we took a poll, most Coloradans would say they love Colorado for the mountains - we'll second that!

Stio, a cool little clothing company out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming put together a sweet little video series called "A San Juan Story". The San Juan mountains are a rugged range in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. Towns like Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton are nestled among these beauties. The forests, rivers, peaks, geological diversity and varied landscapes make the San Juan mountains and national forest an absolute treasure and once you're there, you really don't want to leave! 

Here's the first of three videos in A San Juan Story, Road to the Mountain Life by Oliver Sutro. All it took was one ski season in Telluride and a new life in the Rocky Mountain West was born!

Part 1: The People

A story about what happens in between learning to ski and living to ski. When faced with uncertainty, it helps to have company.

Visitors to the extensive trail system near or above treeline
within Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) have surely heard this sound 


Sounds a bit like a bird, but it's actually the largest member of the squirrel family (Sciuridae), the Marmot!

Specifically, in RMNP, they're Yellow-bellied marmots (AKA Rockchucks, Whistle-Pigs). They're very brave and are quite accustomed to humans; mostly because they want our trail snacks!

Here's one of my marmot friends on the trail up to Flattop Mountain this summer.
I'd like to say she's posing for this shot, but really she just wants a yummy handout.

As tempting as it is, please don't feed those critters. One reason is habituation, which happens when humans offer snacks and the creature suffers no correction for coming close to feed. Over time, they lose fear of humans resulting in nuisance behavior.
Reason two is that wild animals, when they get hooked our Cliff bars and GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), lose their natural foraging behavior and also don't consume needed nutrition.


A Few Quick Facts about Marmots:

They live in colonies of 10-20 individuals and have elaborate burrows
under the high elevation meadows and rocky talus fields.
A marmots day consists of morning and evening feedings;
the rest of the day is spent down in their burrows.
Marmots are omnivores. They eat, grasses, insects and even bird eggs.
In the growing season, they spend a majority of time fattening up for winter hibernation.
Marmots have a lifespan ranging from 2 to 7 years
What is all their chirping about?
When the colony is busy feeding, one marmot stands as a sentinel and warns the colony of any approaching danger.
They also love resting in the sunshine.


Photo Credit: NPS

Now is the time (late September to mid October) that these critters head into their burrows for the long winter's nap. They stay warm huddled together in a room insulated with grasses/hay. During hibernation, a marmots body temperature can fall to 41 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes they only take one or two breaths per minute. They'll be out to greet us again in April or May. 

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more tid bits on the animals that call RMNP 'home'!

Burrow of the Alpine Marmot

Reference: Wildlife Observation: The Alpine marmot
Digital image. Burrow of the alpine marmot. Bernard Fischesser. Web 24 OCT 2017




Green Thumb Guidance - Outdoor Living for Any Season

by Cory Dudley




Here in Colorado, as we already know this fall, it can be 75℉ one day and 25℉ the next.  We can get more than 300 days of sunshine during the year and it’s important to take full advantage of the weather no matter what season.  Here are a few tips to make your outdoor living space cozy and enjoyable any time of the year.



The biggest factor if you will go outside and use your patio will be, is it warm enough?  Provide a fire pit (built-in or moveable) for your family and guests to huddle around.  Fire places can also be a great spot for a cozy outdoor couch to make it really feel like an outdoor living room.  You can also purchase portable outdoor heaters that can be placed in the specific locations on your patio.  Another option can be heaters that are mounted on a pergola or enclosed patio to give you warmth without the fire.





Adding a little of bit of ambiance will really invite you and your guest outdoors when nights become longer.  Place a few path lights along your front entry but also along your back patio to help guide your guests.  Uplight your evergreen trees or place uplights on a wall to soften your landscape.  Cafe lights strung from your pergola or trees can add a playful look as well.  Be sure to not light up your entire backyard so you can still see the night sky but a few here and there will help light the way to your outdoor space.





Outdoor furniture can be just as important as your couch inside. Your family will end up spending a lot of time lounging outside if you have something comfy to sit or lay on.  Also, it’s a great time to set up a nice dining table for family dinners or even a Thanksgiving dinner in the brisk fall air.  Places like Christy Sports, Fruehauf’s or All Backyard Fun have a wide selection of outdoor patio sets.



As with any space you use, you want it to be inviting and comfortable.  Add blankets, pillows and warm drinks as you lounge outside in the sunshine.  Though the air is brisk, it’s a great time to soak in some vitamin D and relax.  Outdoor speakers could also be nice to add soft music on your patio.


Grill or Outdoor Kitchen

Cooking outdoors isn’t just for summer barbeques anymore.  Gas grills and outdoor kitchens make it really easy to light up the grill for any weekday dinner.  It is also nice to be able to be with your guest in your outdoor living room while you are cooking.  These built in kitchens can complement your home and really add value to your property and be something you can always use no matter the weather.



Swim Spa or Hot Tub


There is a reason hot tubs are so popular year round - they are warm and relaxing.  Whether you are the only one soaking or you have invited all your friends, a hot tub is a warm way of enjoying your backyard any time of the year.  If you are looking for something a bit bigger consider a swim spa for soaking or exercising. 







If you really want to make your outdoor living space feel cozy, add a pergola or covered patio.  This will add shade, protection from the rain or snow and make it feel like your very own outdoor living room.  





Bring the Fun


Set up some backyard ladder golf, cornhole or bocce ball for your guests to enjoy in the cool fall air.  You can also mount a T.V. under a shade structure to watch Sunday football with friends.  Host a movie night to watch your favorite films on a projector screen or wall while you lounge on the patio furniture or lay on a blanket in the grass.





Your garden doesn’t have to look grey and dull all season.  Make sure you plant trees, shrubs and perennials that have winter interest for color and texture.  Evergreens will add rich greens, while grasses can sway in the wind.  Add chrysanthemums for a pop of color in the fall with pansies and ornamental kale as annuals.



Take advantage of the sunshine and carve pumpkins outside in the fallen leaves.  Decorate your home with pumpkins, squash and corn stalks.  Host a holiday party that is both indoors and outdoors so your guests can use the fire pit and outdoor kitchen.



Kristen Whitehead, owner of Helios Landscape Design, writes featured blog posts for our monthly newsletter on everything plant-related! She's happy to guide you in your next garden design effort.



Rocky Mountain National Park Series - Stay Curious Video Series

by Cory Dudley



"I think that's what I like the best is understanding more about how things work, and what's living there, and how it interacts with all the other organisms in that system."

- Erin Borgman 


The National Park Service's video series, Stay Curious, most recently selected and interviewed one of Rocky Mountain National Park's very own. Erin Borgman is an NPS Ecologist and Field Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Division. In short, her job is to keep a close eye on the vital signs and overall 'health' of important streams and rivers within the park. These bodies of water are the most important resource to the park's habitat and wildlife inhabitants, making her mission a crucial one! 


Check out the video below to learn how Erin began down the path of Ecology sciences and the advice she has for anyone else trying to discover their place in the world around them. 



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...


Must-Visit Colorado Hot Springs

by Cory Dudley


There may be 80 degree weather down along the Front Range in Colorado, but our mountains are still chilly and even snowy in many areas. It's the perfect time of year for a weekend mountain getaway... Be sure to keep warm by highlighting your trip with a visit to one of Colorado's best hot springs! Below are our top picks throughout the state that provide rustic, unique experiences with gorgeous views (in true Colorado fashion, of course!)


Penny Hot Springs - Carbondale, CO 

Drive along Highway 133 south from Carbondale and you should have no problem spotting this lovely spot along the banks of the Crystal River. Now and then the pools can become flooded with an excess of spring snowmelt run-off, so summer is a great time to take a dip! Make sure you pack in and pack out - there are no amenities, trash containers or bathroom facilities. One of the perks to the Penny Hot Springs is it's small size; only 10-12 people can relax at a time. If you drive up and spot more than 4 cars at the turnout, chances are it's all full up. 



Valley View Hot Springs - Villa Grove, CO

This non-profit, clothing-optional spot is in the beautiful land of the San Luis Valley and offers some truly breathtaking views. Several of their all natural ponds are found along wilderness trails, so can hike and then soak! Admission is limited and an OLT Membership is required, which you can read all about HERE. 



Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs - Ouray, CO

These particular geothermal waters were originally tapped for healing purposes back in 1925 and have been enjoyed ever since. You must be a guest of the lodge to enjoy their hot springs tubs, which are terraced on the mountainside directly behind the building. Each of their four redwood tubs provide gorgeous 360 degree views of the nearby San Juan mountains, and countless stars at nighttime. 



Dunton Hot Springs - Dolores, CO 

Deep in the mountains of southwest Colorado you'll find Dunton Springs; a restored 19th century ghost town turned mineral hot springs getaway. Cabins can be rented out or you can opt to experience 'glamping'; luxury camping that comes complete with mountain bikes and en-suite bathrooms. Have a wedding or family reunion coming up? The entire town and ranch can be rented out exclusively for larger events and parties, too. 




Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa - Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

With 21 mineral pools and baths, you'll find plenty of variety and space here no matter when you arrive. Temperatures are controlled and vary from 95 to 112 degrees, and they keep everything as natural as possible; no added chemicals and no filtering or re-circulation of their waters. Lodging is also available here if you'd like more access to the mineral-rich waters.



Avalance Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs - Redstone, CO

3 natural hot spring pools were created and designed with the natural landscape of the rock formations in mind. Because of it's location in the Crystal River Valley, you'll be privy to breath-taking scenery. Water flows from the top pool down to the others from a waterfall cascading down a rock grotto - massage, anyone?



Strawberry Park Hot Springs - Steamboat Springs, CO

Strawberry Park is well-known for being one of the more rustic hot springs around. Somewhere between the rock and sand pool bottom and all the stars you can see at night, you'll realize that you truly are out in the wilderness when you come here! It's clothing-optional after dark and runs alongside the river for those looking to get the heart pumping. 






Rocky Mountain National Park is home to black bears, which are also the largest and least frequently seen mammals within the park. There are an estimated 20-35 bears currently living in RMNP, but previous studies have shown that the park is a poor habit for them, naturally speaking. It's believed that the area was attractive to the animals because hunting remains prohibited within the boundaries. Bears do what bears do; they eat lots of wild fruits that grow within the park, such as choke cherries, currants, raspberries, grapes and juniper berries. Afterwards, well.. They do what nearly every other living thing does. 

RMNP rangers decided to try something new this year, and used the abundance of bear scat to the park's advantage! 

A member of the park's vegetation restoration crew collected scat throughout the park last fall, and volunteers took time planting it in the park's greenhouses. No one was sure what exactly would come of it, if anything - but there truly was no downside to this experiment. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the seedlings began sprouting, which have now reached a count of over 1,200 total. 



"Animals are great seed dispersers and of course, what does in one way goes out the other," the park said on it's Facebook page. "After defecation, seeds are left in a rich, moist medium that nourishes the growing seedling.

Most of the seedlings appear to be Oregon-grape and chokecherry, which was a surprise to the team. Chokecherry has a very thick, hard seed coat that is difficult to germinate in typical greenhouse conditions. Thanks to their trip through a bear's digestive system beforehand, that coat was broken down in the process, allowing for successful growth. 

The plan is to plant the Oregon Grape seedlings in an effort to rehabilitate the areas disturbed during the replacement of the park's main waterline in 2016.



If you dream of being a volunteer at the Rocky Mountain National Park, click HERE and take the next steps! There are opportunities for individuals and groups alike, and they are always in need of help and community involvement. 




Attention, everyone! Trail Ridge Road is officially open to cyclists, though travel on it at your own risk; park officials are warning that conditions may still be a bit tricky to navigate. 



Trail Ridge Road connects Estes Park to the west and Grand Lake to the west, and is the highest continues paved road in the United States. The scenic route reaches elevations of 12,183 feet and provides beautiful views for anyone traveling it - and if you decide to adventure out on that great road...

Be prepared for strong winds and weather that could change at a moment's notice, especially at this time of year.  Officials close it down during the winter months due to snow and dangerous conditions. If you want to check in on current conditions, call 970-586-1222 for the most up-to-date information. 



Not interested in making the journey yourself? Live vicariously through others and check out this first-hand account of what cycling Trail Ridge Road is like.





The Wounded Warrior Project aims to connect, serve and empower wounded warriors. Connecting members and their families to valuable resources ensures that they have the ability to live a life on their own terms. Recently, a group of veterans ventured out into the winter wonderland that is currently Rocky Mountain National Park with a couple goals in mind; socializing and challenging themselves in the process.

"Being part of the Wounded Warrior Project gives me the opportunity to connect with other veterans like me and create the same types of friendships I had while serving on active duty," says Army veteran Christopher.



Physical activity is key to helping injured warriors cope with stress and emotional concerns. In a WWP survey, 29.6% of respondents expressed that physical activity helps them address their mental health challenges. What better place to connect with nature, yourself and others than in Rocky Mountain National Park?

For many of the participants, it was the first time they'd strapped on snowshoes and hiked through the mountains. The opportunity to come together and bond over such a challenging shared experience was beneficial for all! Thanks to the generosity of donors, the day was available to the veterans at no cost to them.



"Not only am I connecting with other warriors, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment after completing each hike," says Christopher.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 27