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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!

 

 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a place where people can come together and commit to learning about the world around them in thoughtful, sincere way? Sitting on 180 acres near Ward, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center welcomes participants from near and far to do just that!

 

“For me in this dark time, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center will be a shining beacon I can trust. I see it offering what we most need: the inspired leadership of committed teachers, a wild mountain setting to awaken our own power and beauty, the ripening of a Sangha to grow a guiding vision for our people, and the strength to make it real.”  

- Joanna Macy, Ph.D Engaged Buddhist teacher 

 

(Video Credit: Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center)

 

The land is composed of a private river, meadows and woodlands adjacent to the Arapahoe National Forest and mere miles from the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Their mission is to provide a space for low-cost meditation retreats and workshops, surrounded by and focused on nature. The scheduled programs that the group is most excited about are:

 

Open House Activity Day - July 16th - Join in for a full day filled with community, mindfulness and the beautiful nature that the center sits on. Families are welcome and the event is free, though donations are always appreciated.

Ecodharma Retreat with David Loy & Johann Robbins - August 4th through 13th - This meditation retreat encourages exploration into social consciousness and promoting caring, wisdom and compassion rather than anxiety and anger. 

 

 

The center has no paid staff and runs solely with the help of many volunteers, giving their time and expertise to the cause. Click HERE to learn more about the team, their volunteers, and how you can become involved.  

 


 

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.

 

 

Composer Stephen Lias,like many others in all walks of life, draws inspiration from the great outdoors to create beautiful art in the form of musical masterpieces. The only difference is that his gaze is a bit more specific and focused - on national parks, to be specific!

 

 

Included in his dozens of compositions are pieces created thanks to our very own Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde national parks, alongside many more from around the United States.

This Saturday, March 25th at 7:30pm, the Boulder Philharmonic will debut the composer's newest piece, fondly dubbed "All the Songs That Nature Sings", after writings by Enos Mills, who's considered to be the father of the Rocky Mountain National Park by many. Though there are a very limited number of seats still available for the premier, you can buy tickets HERE. And if you'd prefer to listen to the full concert from the comfort of your home, take advantage of CPR's (Colorado Public Radio) live broadcast!

 

 

After the concert, the Boulder Philharmonic travels to Washington, D.C. to perform the complete program at the Kennedy Center's SHIFT event; a festival that showcases innovate American orchestras.

We're inspired and in awe of the beauty all over this state, but we must agree with composer Lias - Rocky Mountain National Park is quite special...

 

 

 

What better way to relax after a long workweek than escaping to the solitude and peace of Rocky Mountain National Park? Today is the official first day to make reservations for a summer backpacking trip! There's nothing quite like unplugging from the world - technology, stressors, workplace issues and everyday troubles - and soaking in some nature instead.

 

 

Though you can certainly take a day trip up, overnight backpacking is not allowed without a permit. You can register by either visiting the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center of Kawuneeche Visitor Center in person.

Click HERE for a map of all the available campsites, a recent availability list and a request application, along with all the other information you'd need for your trip!

 

 

 

Over the last 100 years, people have continued to visit Rocky Mountain National Parks (and other parks countrywide) for the same reasons; to enjoy solitude, to experience the beauty of nature, to soak in the scenery, watch wildlife, adventure, explore and join in on outdoor recreational activities. If you're like most Coloradans, you love the snow... But you're just about ready for warmer weather up in the park! Now is the time to prepare yourself for spring and summer trips, so we've compiled your list of must-know's to ensure your visit is fantastic...

 

Hike Early

By hiking earlier in the morning, you have a much better chance of finding parking without too much hassle. Trailhead parking lots tend to fill up early in the day; Wild Basin Corridor by 9:30am, Bear Lake Trailhead by 8:30am, Glacier Gorge Trailhead by 8:30am, Park and Ride by 10:30am.

 

 

Carpool

Once again, parking can be a huge challenge for visitors. Try to take a larger vehicle that can accommodate your entire group! That way you can also keep all your snacks in one place for the drive home...

 

Reserve Campsites Now

Camping is very popular in Rocky Mountain National Park, so it's best to reserve your campsites early in the year. Most can be reserved up to 6 months before you plan to visit! The two first-come, first-served campgrounds tend to fill up exceptionally fast, while the Timber Creek Campground on the west side of the park becomes full last.

 

 

Weekend or Weekday?

In September, visitation rates are consistently 50% higher on weekend than weekdays. If you're able to get a Tuesday off from the office and take the kiddos up into the wild, you'll enjoy a much more calm experience.

 

Check the Weather Forecast

If you arrive midday to the park and plan on any extensive hiking, it is absolutely critical that you know the weather forecast for the elevation of your destination. The Rocky Mountains are notorious for extreme weather patterns, and you wouldn't want to find yourself stuck at high elevations when the lightning begins.

 

 

ENTER TO WIN an annual pass to Rocky Mountain National Park, courtesy of The Winning Team Real Estate Group! The winner will be announced on Facebook at the end of March.

Click HERE to find out how...

 

Motivational Monday - Beyond the Rockies

by Cory Dudley

 

Though we love the Rocky Mountains and all of their wilderness, there are many other beautiful places throughout Colorado. But it can be difficult to see them all from the best angle, which is where filming drones come in! A bird's eye view allows you to see things from a new perspective, and sometimes that's all we need.

 

(Video Credit: DJI Inspire 1 | Chroma 4K)

 

If you're in need of a perspective shift, there are 5 steps you can take...

 

  1. What is the challenge you're facing? To make it to the end, you need to know where you're starting from. Visualize yourself in the situation that you're dealing with - hear it, feel it and see it. Conjure up every detail you can to make it more real.
  2. Expand it. The problem with only seeing things one way is that it's limited. Imagine you're going further and further from yourself and your challenge, until you're looking down at it from a complete bird's eye view. Focus on everyone else involved, and try to see it in it's entirety. What do you see that you haven't before? Does your perspective change from way up there?
  3. Leave Earth behind. Imagine you're traveling even farther, past the atmosphere and into outer space. From way out there, what do you notice and how do you feel? What changes are there in your stress level as the challenge becomes further and further away?
  4. Come back home. When you're ready, begin coming back towards the problem. As you return, go into the bodies of others involved before coming back into your own. See the situation from their viewpoint, no matter how difficult it is. What do you learn? Finally, come back into your own self. How have things now changed for you?
  5. Take action. We usually cannot change other people but we can change what we do and how we react to others around us. What will you do next?

 

 

 

 

On March 1st & 2nd, members of the public and science communities alike will gather at the Estes Park Town Hall for Rocky Mountain National Park's 2017 Biennial Research Conference - "People and Stewardship: Using Research for Management." The conference focuses on celebrating research at Rocky Mountain National Park, among other things; providing a place research and park staff can share their discoveries and creating opportunities for young scientific professionals and the public to connect with park staff and one another.

The park hosts on of the largest research programs, which keeps 0ver 100 research permits active each and every year. This year, more than 100 scientists are expected to attend the event to discuss various research projects and approaches!

 

 

If you'd like to attend, feel free - the conference is open to anyone interested and is free; no registration is required. Sessions will begin on March 1st at 8:15am, and will end by 4pm each day. Wednesday will include topics such as visitor use, youth relevancy, wetlands and rivers, and the Grand Ditch breach restoration. Attendees will see presentations on Longs Peak history, citizen sciences, streams, student projects, willow restoration and monitoring visitor use. Thursday will focus on vegetation, environmental contaminants, archaeology, wildlife, and public health. Presentations are on things like ice patch archaeology, sub-alpine forests, invasive species,, air quality, restoration, birds, ticks, elk and even toads.

For more information, call the park's Information Office at 970-586-1206.

 

 

 

 

Last year, Rocky Mountain National Park set a new visitation record of more than 4.5 million. That's the equivalent of every Coloradan living along the Front Range visiting the park! To top it all off, they set a monthly record in July of 2016 with 912,507 visitors.

"It's unknown whether we will see that level of visitation continue to increase in the near future," Kyle Patterson, park spokeswoman, says. "However, with the population growth along the Front Range of Colorado, particularly in Larimer and Weld counties, we expect park visitation to continue to be around 4.5 million visitors and not decrease dramatically."

 

 

The big turnout last year was a 33% increase from two years ago - a trend that has been continuing since 2013, when U.S. 34 and the areas of the park as well were heavily damaged by the flooding. Though portions of U.S. 34 are still undergoing reconstruction, it is expected to reopen in May of this year. Population growth and lower gas prices have also helped to boost the visitation numbers.

While an increase in visitation numbers is the sign of a healthy park, it isn't all rainbows and sunshine. 

 

 

"It is wonderful that visitors are engaging and enjoying their public lands, like Rocky Mountain National Park," she said. "But the dramatic increase in visitation to Rocky presents additional challenges for park staff to preserve and protect the park now and for future generations."

Larger crowds require a larger budget and staffing increases, neither of which have been remedied as of yet. This last summer the park was forced to restrict vehicle access when lots had filled, which occurred most weekends between June and September. The park will continue assessing both the long term and short term effects of increased numbers coming through. Long term efforts will involve a mindful planning process on how to deal with consistent growth in the coming years.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park Series - Pika Struggles to Thrive

by Cory Dudley

 

 

Bad news, everyone - National Parks Service researchers predict that the pika will be extinct from Rocky Mountain National Park by the end of the century, due to the impact that climate change is hanging on their habitat and ability to remain genetically diverse. The pika is arguably the cutest creature up in the park. Commonly (and endearingly) referred to as "the farmers of the tundra", pika are a trademark sight within the park for visitors year-round. Their "meep" sounds can be heard long before they are spotted, making them a fun sight for families especially.

Unfortunately for the pika and their fans, they face long-term issues more dire than being a weasel's next meal. In order to survive, the pika needs 3 things; a very solid yearly snowpack, mild summers and habitat connectivity. They tend to scurry about a lot to find food and other pikas to reproduce with, so if there's a large distance to travel between suitable snowy spots, they won't survive the trek.

 

 

Pika rely heavily on genetic diversity in order to survive, making them that much more at risk. If they can't travel outside their range to find suitable mates they begin inbreeding and lose their resilience to colder and warmer temperature ranges. What may come as a surprise is that this sort of resilience loss occurs faster than you'd expect - decades, not centuries.

The little critter made some major headlines years back when various studies revealed that they were clearly disappearing from lower and lower elevations throughout Utah and Nevada. Though this hasn't yet been observed consistently in Colorad, the picture is pretty bleak for the pika of Rocky Mountain National Park.

If predictions are true, there may yet be a few strategies to saving the pika.

 

 

In Rocky Mountain National Park there are two pika populations that never interact with one another. If given no other options, park managers could possibly introduce the two groups to increase genetic diversity. Park managers could also "play god" and influence the pika's natural fate, though it isn't the ideal option. They'd need to take excessive measures to keep roads and trails out of areas that are considered to be crucial for the animal's survival, or even create man-made habitats or relocate pika populations.

The most ideal options is that scientists could be wrong. Pika may surprise us all yet and be more resilient to the impacts of climate change than experts predict. Believe it or not, scientists don't mind being wrong!

If you'd like to delve deeper into the pika's plight, check out the Front Range Pika Project for 2017 or email frpp@rockymountainwild.org to receive volunteer information for the 2017 season, which runs from July to October.

 

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Cory Dudley
The Winning Team Real Estate Group
522 Kimbark St
Longmont CO 80501
Mobile: (303) 641-8597
Office: (303) 776-4004
Fax: (303) 776-4661