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Need a little inspiration for driving up to the park on a cold, snowy day?

How about a challenge to identify all of Rocky Mountain National Park's seven Coniferous trees.

Coniferous trees have distinct characteristics that will help you distinguish if you're looking at a Pine, Spruce or Fir. Then you can drill down and identify the species.


Wind-shaped Limber Pine, NPS.gov

PINE
Needles grow in clusters of 2, 3 or 5 depending on the species.

RMNP Pines: Limber Pine, Lodgepole Pine and Ponderosa Pine

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SPRUCE
Individual needles, which are stiff, pointy and have sharp edges - they'll roll between your fingers unlike a Fir. Remember 'SSS' (spiny, sharp, spruce). Spruce cones hang mid-branch.

RMNP Spruce: Englemann Spruce and Blue Spruce

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FIR
Needles grow individually on the branch, but they are soft and flat. You can remember 'FFF' (flat, fat, fir). The cones are also at the top of the branch rather than hanging mid-branch like a Spruce.

RMNP Fir: Subalpine Fir

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DOUGLAS-FIR
"Douglas-firs" are not actually classified as true Firs. They are a part of an entire genus containing 6 different species!

If you remember one tree, it can be the Douglas-fir. They have a sweet tale that will help you easily identify them on future hikes.

Indigenous legend in the Pacific Northwest tells that a long time ago there was a great fire in the forest. All of the animals were fleeing before the encroaching flames. However, the tiny mice with their short little mouse-legs were not quick enough to outrun the fire. In danger of being engulfed in the flames, they asked the strong and stoic Douglas-fir trees for help. The trees were inclined to be friendly to the mice, and allowed them to climb up their thick, fire-resistant trunks and hide themselves in their fir cones. The mice gladly took shelter inside the cones, and survived the terrible fire. And even today – if you examine the cones of a Douglas-fir closely – you can see the little hind feet and tails of the mice sticking out from beneath the scales of the fir cones. Story from Heart of the West Coast

You can identify Conifers year-round in RMNP! Just another reason to strap on your snowshoes and explore this beautiful national park in our backyard! Learn more about the Conifers of RMNP here. Get to the park early on weekends and carpool if you can!

 

 

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 - The Rocky Pledge

by Cory Dudley

 

 

 

 

The staff and volunteers of Rocky Mountain National Park, do their best to provide park visitors with experiences of a lifetime. But they can't do it without you! 

 

 

How can you help?

  • Take the Rocky Pledge (see below). You can read it aloud or to yourself, in the park or at home, alone or with friends. All we ask: read it thoughtfully and take it seriously.
  • Encourage your followers to protect Rocky. Share a photo of yourself taking the pledge, encircling something meaningful to you in your hands, or doing something to protect the park to your social media of choice and tag it #rockypledge. If you’re on Instagram, there’s a chance you’ll get hundreds of thousands of eyes on your photo—we’ll regularly repost our favorite #rockypledge shots!
  • Tell your friends and family: Take the Rocky Pledge! Visit go.nps.gov/RockyPledge to learn more.

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The Rocky Pledge

 

“To preserve unimpaired for this and future generations the beauty, history, and wildness therein, I pledge to protect Rocky Mountain National Park.”

  • To prevent fire scars and human-caused fires, I pledge to never build a fire outside of a campground or picnic area fire ring.
  • To respect other visitors’ experiences, if I need to go but am not near a restroom, I pledge to leave no trace by stepping well away from the trail and water sources, burying my waste at least six inches deep or packing it out in a waste bag, and carrying out my toilet paper.
  • To respect Rocky’s wild creatures and to protect myself, I pledge to watch wildlife from a distance that doesn’t disturb them in any way. I will never feed an animal—doing so causes it harm.
  • To respect history, heritage, and natural processes, I pledge to remove nothing from the park except my own and others’ trash. I will leave no trace of my visit so that the next person can experience the same beauty as I did.
  • To keep my pet, wildlife, and other visitors safe, I pledge to keep my leashed pet only on roads, in campgrounds, and in picnic and parking areas. I will never take my dog on Rocky’s trails, meadows, or tundra areas.
  • To preserve them for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations, I pledge to honor, respect, and protect all our national parks and public lands.

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We've taken the pledge - how about you? 

 

It's National Park Week 2016!

by Cory Dudley

 The National Park Service celebrates 100 years in 2016, resulting in lots of events that you can take part in! 

There are over 400 national parks in the United States today, 127 of which usually charge some sort of entrance fee. Though the NPS typically offers free entrance for several special occasions throughout the year, this year provides more opportunity - During National Park Week, April 16-24th, the parks waive all entrance fees, so you can visit as many national parks as you want without having to pay anything at all!

Here's a complete list of national parks that you can visit for free. Please note - entrance fees are waived but camping site fees are not.

If you are unable to make it this month, don't worry! You’ll have some other chances later this year - August 25 - August 28 for the National Park Service Birthday; September 24th for National Public Lands Day and November 11th for Veterans Day.

“It’s about making great connections,” the parks service says on its website announcing the celebration, “exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks!”

The following are National Parks in Colorado:

 

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