by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved
Visitor Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Rocky Mountain N AT I O N A L PA R K The Official Newspaper and Trip Planner of Rocky Mountain National Park 2019 Spring | March 17–June 15, 2019 Pasqueflowers, a sure sign of spring’s beginnings at Rocky. NPS PHOTO / RUSSEL SMITH VIP Help Us Protect Your Park Set aside more than 100 years ago, Rocky Mountain National Park has been entrusted to your care. Please take pride in your park and treat it with respect! Generations of future visitors will thank you. How can you help protect Rocky? • Read and follow important safety information on page 2, then take the Rocky Pledge. Our rules and regulations weren’t invented to ruin anyone’s fun—they were created to keep you safe and to keep your park beautiful. Read and take heed! Contact Us Trail Ridge Road Status 970 586-1222 • Be kind to fellow visitors and park staff. As Rocky continues to grow in popularity, crowded roads, packed parking lots, and lines at restrooms and visitor centers are becoming more common. This can be frustrating, but please be patient. We’re all here to enjoy Rocky’s splendor. • Plan ahead for your next visit, whether tomorrow or in a decade. Planning ahead can help you avoid the not-so-fun stuff so that you have more time and energy to enjoy the totally-fun stuff. For details, visit our website at nps.gov/romo/. Hidden Valley Snowplay Status 970 586-1333 Park Information 970 586-1206 TTY 970 586-1319 PLEDGE to PROTECT Rocky Mountain National Park #rockypledge Emergencies 911 website nps.gov/romo/ instagram @RockyNPS #RMNP facebook.com/RockyNPS twitter @RockyNPS youtube.com/user/RockyNPS Things to Do in a Day or Less Take a Scenic Drive Plan for Summer Watch Wildlife Hike a Trail See Visitor Centers Join a Ranger PAGE 4 PAGE 4 BOTTOM PAGE 9 PAGE 10 PROGRAM GUIDE PROGRAM GUIDE Driving Rocky’s roads is a great way to explore the park. Learn more about our roads and famous drives, including times of the year when some major roads are closed to motorized traffic. Thinking of returning to Rocky in summer? Due to high visitation (over 4.6 million visitors in 2018), planning ahead is a necessity. Learn more at go.nps.gov/ Rocky is home to many animals, big and small. While we’re unable to tell you exactly where wildlife will be (they are wild, after all!), we have a great guide inside to help you learn more. Rocky has trails for every age and ability. Find a trail, check your packing list against our recommended items, and learn where you can get even more in-depth info. Visitor centers are a great way to explore the park’s wonders. See your program guide for opening and closing dates and times and general descriptions. Year-round, Rocky offers ranger-led programs on a variety of awesome topics. Check out our program guide to find the perfect program for you and yours. RockyPlanAhead Safety It is your responsibility to be safe and to know and obey park rules. You can find park safety information, rules, and regulations at visitor centers, entrance stations, trailhead bulletin boards, and the park website at nps.gov/romo. 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 respect history, heritage, and natural processes, I pledge to remove nothing from the park except my own and others’ trash—not even a flower. I will leave no trace of my visit so that the next person can experience the same beauty as I did. • 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 protect plants, meadows, and alpine tundra, I pledge to park and drive only on designated asphalt or gravel parking areas. • 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 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. PLEDGE to PROTECT • 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 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. Rocky Mountain National Park #rockypledge Altitude Sickness affects many visitors every year. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, and in acute situations, even uncon‑ Falling Trees are an ever-present hazard and can fall without warning. Be extra careful around dead trees when it’s windy or following a snowstorm. sciousness. Altitude can also aggravate preexist‑ Pets are prohibited on ALL park trails, tundra, and meadow areas. K E E P W I L D L I F E W I L D Never feed or approach wildlife Leashed pets are only allowed in picnic areas, parking lots, campgrounds, and along roadsides. Never leave pets in vehicles if it puts them in ing conditions like heart and lung disease. Take Firearm Possession in the park is danger or they become a public nuisance. When Many amazing animals call Rocky home. To your time, drink plenty of water, eat lightly, and permitted for those legally authorized outside vehicles, pets must be on leashes no keep them and you safe and comfortable: • Obey wildlife closure areas and rest. The only cure for altitude sickness is to go to possess firearms under federal, Colorado, or longer than six feet. Service animals that have down to a lower altitude. local laws. However, hunting, recreational been individually trained to perform specific shooting, and target practice are illegal. Federal tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities Avalanches can be easily triggered by backcountry travelers. The park law prohibits firearms in park buildings and are allowed in the park. Emotional support facilities. Those legally allowed to carry firearms (“therapy animals”) and service-ani- does not do any avalanche control. must comply with all applicable state and federal mals-in-training are not service animals under firearm laws. the Americans with Disabilities Act and may not Never assume trails are free of avalanche hazard. access trails or other non-motorized areas. Wear an electronic transceiver when traversing avalanche terrain, and avoid skiing or snowshoe‑ Fishing requires a Colorado state ing in steep gullies. If caught in an avalanche, fishing license. Trout in the park include make swimming motions and try to stay on top brown, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat Purify all water from rivers, lakes, and streams before drinking. Park of the snow. For current conditions, visit (including the protected Colorado River and waters may contain parasites like giardia and avalanche.state.co.us, check at a visitor greenback). Not all park lakes have reproducing cryptosporidium. center, or call 970 586‑1206. fish populations. For more information, visit go.nps.gov/RockyFishing. Bicycles are prohibited on trails. They are permitted on all roads open to motor vehicles, paved and dirt, unless “no stopping” traffic zones. • Use parking areas along the road. If not available, pull your vehicle completely off the road and do not park on vegetation. • Keep a safe distance. If you cause an animal to move or change behavior, you are too close! Approaching an animal puts you at risk and may cause it stress, leading to disease and illness. • Never feed wildlife, including birds and chipmunks. Rivers and Streams can be deadly. Bears and Mountain Lions Park waters are frigid. Powerful currents Seeing a bear or mountain lion is Hypothermia can happen any time of year. Watch for drowsiness, can knock you over and pull you downstream or underwater, where you may become trapped. rare, and interactions are even more rare. impaired judgment, excessive shivering, Streamside rocks are often slippery, and nearby However, keep the following in mind: bicycle lanes in the park. Roads are narrow with and slurred speech. To prevent, wear insulated, water may be deep. Always closely supervise • Travel in groups and make noise as you few or no shoulders—ride with care. By law, you wind-proof layers and drink plenty of fluids. children around all water but especially near hike closely together. Keep children rivers and streams. close! A predator does not distinguish otherwise posted. There are no designated must ride single file. Shuttle buses do not accept bicycles. Visit go.nps.gov/RockyBicycling. Campfires are permitted only in Lightning regularly strikes in Rocky. There is no safe place in the Take only pictures. It is illegal to backcountry when lightning strikes. take any natural features including a running child from running prey. campgrounds and picnic areas with fire Check the forecast before heading out. Watch pinecones, rocks, antlers, and artifacts or to grates. During high fire danger, for building storm clouds. Plan activities so you disturb soil, rocks, or vegetation (including campfires may be prohibited. You can purchase can quickly return to your car if a storm begins. flowers). Metal detector use is prohibited. firewood at campgrounds in summer. Collecting If hiking, plan to return to the trailhead before vegetation, dead or alive, is prohibited. noon, and return to the trailhead immediately if Wilderness Travel should be done you hear thunder. in a group, not alone. Leave a detailed Cell Service is unavailable in much of the park. Don’t depend on a cell phone for emergency help. Drones are not allowed anywhere in Rocky Mountain National Park. This includes launching, landing, and operating drones. 2 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado trip itinerary with a friend. This helps park au‑ Marijuana possession and use is illegal in Rocky Mountain National Park and all federal thorities if you fail to return. Mountain weather • If you see a bear or mountain lion, stop, stay calm, and back away slowly. Never approach wildlife or turn your back and run. Stand tall and look large. Raise your arms. Protect small children by picking them up. • If approached, make loud noises, shout, clap hands, bang pots or pans, and fight back if attacked. changes quickly. If conditions are more difficult See Camping, page 11, to learn how to than anticipated, turn around. Longs Peak, a properly store food and other scented lands, even though small amounts of recre‑ popular climb, can have treacherous ice and items. ational marijuana are legal in Colorado. snow any time of year. Camping is only allowed in designated sites. Weather Winter 80 70 60 50 40 Spring Summer 78 Estes Park Average High 76 68 61 60 Estes Park Average Low 59 51 50 42 43 49 10 31 31 27 6 4 Jan Feb 16 14 10 -1 17 19 16 -1 25 23 22 21 0 -10 32 27 19 34 39 36 25 16 38 44 36 18 42 48 33 20 55 55 Alpine Visitor Center Average Low (estimated) 30 Winter 72 Alpine Visitor Center Average High (estimated) 35 Fall -1 Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Winter Spring Summer Fall Cold temperatures, high winds, and ice and snow define winter at Rocky Mountain National Park. Skiing and snowshoeing conditions are best in January, February, and March. A warm, sunny day can make it seem that summer’s arrived early, only to be followed by a day of cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. Expect snow and ice on most if not all trails. Sunny mornings, afternoon thunderstorms (often with dangerous lightning), and clear, cool nights. This is the busiest time of year in the park. Most park facilities are open. Expect clear crisp air, blue skies, and generally dry weather mixed with the occasional early snowstorm. Trail Ridge Road usually closes for the winter by mid-October. Estes Park area Usually free of deep snow. Winds are often extremely high (50+ mph gusts). Montane (8000–9500 ft, 2450–2900 m) Spring arrives here first, usually in late April. Alpine (11,500+ ft, 3500+ m) Magnificent wildflowers bloom from late June to early August. Fall colors Aspen leaves start changing in mid-September. Fall color is magical but usually brief, lasting only a few weeks. Subalpine (9500–11,500 ft, 2900–3500 m) Spring is just reaching the subalpine country in June. Snow can stick around in gorges and other shaded areas well into summer. December–March Higher elevations Arctic conditions: sudden blizzards, damaging winds, deep snowpack. Grand Lake area Deeper snow common. Winds less extreme. Clearer and colder than the east side of the park. April–May Why is it colder at elevation? Take a look at the temperature chart above. The Alpine Visitor Center is, on average, 15–20 degrees colder than Estes Park, yet it’s only a few miles away as the crow flies. How can this be? Elevation, which measures a location’s height above sea level. Most people live relatively close to sea level (maybe you do, too), so they don’t know about the big effect elevation has on almost every everything, from solar radiation to weather to—you guessed it—temperature. But here in Rocky, where elevations start at around 7,500 ft, you can experience these changes firsthand! June–August Dressing for a trip to the mountains is part of the adventure. • The atmosphere gets thinner. With less air and clouds between the ground and the darkness of space, less of the sun’s heat is trapped and re-radiated back to Earth. As you can see, conditions vary wildly throughout the year and between different elevations. But conditions also vary wildly even within the same day! Add to these factors more exposure to extreme wind and weather, and it’s no wonder a warm day at the park entrances can be much chillier in the mountains. Elk rut Elk mating season begins in September and continues through mid-October. What clothes should I bring? For every 1,000 feet gained in elevation, temperature decreases 3–5°F. Why? • Air pressure drops. This causes the temperature of air, a gas, to decrease. September–November A single summer day could bring clear skies and frosty breath in the morning; blistering sun and sweat at noon; and a thunderstorm in the afternoon with a 20 degree temperature drop, lightning, rain, and hail. A winter day can go from still with warm sun to howling wind and whiteout conditions in a matter of minutes. How can you prepare for such wild weather? • Always carry wind and waterproof outerwear. Sudden cold rainstorms happen even in summer, and chilling winds are common. • Bring warm, quick-drying layers to adjust to changing temperatures. • Wear closed-toe, durable footwear. The park is rarely entirely without ice and snow. • Bring a warm hat and gloves—even in summer. • Protect yourself from the sun with clothing, sunscreen, and sunglasses. UV radiation is much higher at elevation. Official Newspaper 2019 3 Scenic Drives Driving Conditions Through the Seasons Winter Spring Summer Fall While Bear Lake Road and other major paved roads remain open (weather permitting), smaller park roads, Old Fall River Road, and most of Trail Ridge Road are closed. Winter driving conditions are possible at any time—be prepared. Snow, ice, rain, sun— anything’s possible in spring. Some smaller roads open, weather permitting. It’s prime time at Rocky. Nearly all park roads, including Trail Ridge Road, open by Memorial Day (weather permitting). Old Fall River Road opens latest in the season, in early July. Snow and ice are back on the menu— be prepared. Old Fall River Road closes by early October. Trail Ridge usually closes in mid-October but depends on the year’s specific weather conditions. December–March April–May June–August September–November Trail Ridge Road Closed to motorized vehicles until late May weather permitting Recorded Status Line: 970 586-1222 This recorded message has the most up-to-date information on whether Trail Ridge Road is open or closed and is available 24 hours per day. Stretching 50 miles, from Estes Park in the east to Grand Lake in the west, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in North America. Winding across the alpine tundra’s vastness to a high point of 12,183 ft (3713 m), the route offers thrilling views, scenic pullouts, wildlife sightings, and spectacular alpine wildflower displays. A trip up Trail Ridge Road is like traveling to the Arctic. By 11,400 ft (3475 m), the average annual temperature is so cold that none of Rocky’s trees can survive. Called treeline, you’ll know you’re above it when the trees disappear and the views stretch to forever. Alpine Visitor Center covered in snow. Old Fall River Road CLOSED TO MOTORIZED VEHICLES Due to extreme winter conditions at elevation, Old Fall River Road is closed to motorized vehicles from October 1–early July. Pedestrian traffic is still allowed. Pets on leash are allowed until November 30 but are prohibited December 1–April 1. Completed in 1920, Old Fall River Road was the first auto route in the park offering access to the alpine tundra. It follows a route long used by Native American tribes, including Ute and Arapaho. Old Fall River Road is a “motor nature trail.” Gravel and dirt, one-way uphill, with no guardrails and tight switchbacks, vehicles 25 feet and longer or with trailers are not allowed. The 9-mile long road leads from Horseshoe Park up a deeply cut valley to Fall River Pass at 11,796 ft (3595 m), where it joins Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitor Center. NPS PHOTO Stay Safe Protect the Tundra • Trail Ridge Road is narrow, winding, and has few guardrails. Drive carefully. While seemingly hardy, the tundra is in fact quite fragile. Repeated footsteps often destroy tundra plants. Recovery can take hundreds of years. • Lightning can kill you. If thunderstorms are approaching or if you see or hear lightning, immediately seek shelter in your car or a building. • High elevation can make you feel sick and aggravate preexisting conditions. See page 2 for details. • Temperatures on the tundra can be 20 to 30° F (10 to 15° C) colder than park entrances, and weather changes quickly. Always bring warm, windproof layers, including a hat and gloves, even on warm days. • Sunlight is intense at elevation. Even on cool, cloudy days, UV levels can be extreme. Wear sunglasses that block UV to protect your eyes. Use sunscreen and wear a hat. Consider full-coverage clothing for long outings. • You must stay on trails in the park’s six Tundra Protection Areas: • Alpine View Trail • Alpine Visitor Center area • Forest Canyon overlook • Gore Range overlook • Rock Cut overlook • Tundra Communities Trail • Never pick flowers or plants. • Never feed or approach wildlife, no matter how small. • Park only in designated areas, never on vegetation. • Pets are prohibited on ALL tundra areas. Traffic, Parking, and Shuttle Buses Rocky hosted over 4.6 million visitors in 2018. With most visitors arriving by car, this means park roads can get extremely busy and parking extremely limited. We understand this can be frustrating—but we’re all here to enjoy and celebrate Rocky. Help yourself and other visitors keep fun levels high and stress levels low by being courteous to other motorists, obeying posted speed limits, and watching for visitors and wildlife in parking lots and near roadways. 4 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado • Roads are busiest from 9 am to 3 pm during the summer and on fall weekends. Arrive early or late to avoid the crowds. • Parking at our most popular trailheads can fill as early as 6:30am. Even less popular trailheads will fill by early morning and on winter weekends. If you’re planning to hike, start early! • In summer, consider riding the shuttle from the Estes Park Visitor Center (park pass required) or Park & Ride. Save money on gas, skip the traffic, and enjoy mountain views while someone else drives! Learn more on the back page. Spring Program Guide A ball cactus in bloom. Visitor Centers NPS PHOTO / HOPE OZOLINS Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Fall River Visitor Center Moraine Park Discovery Center Open 8am to 4:30pm daily Starting May 24: Open 9am to 4:30pm daily Near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on US Hwy 36. Information, Through May 24: Open 9am to 4pm Fri–Sun Starting May 25: Open 9am to 4pm daily bookstore, and park movie (see left). For wilderness camping Near the Fall River Entrance on US Hwy 34. Life-sized wildlife views of Moraine Park, and a bookstore. permits, follow the trail east of the visitor center to the Wilder- displays, bookstore, and Arts Alive Activity Center (all ages ness Office. welcome). Sheep Lakes Information Station Alpine Visitor Center Kawuneeche Visitor Center Starting May 11: Open 9am to 4:30pm daily (weather permitting) Starting May 24: Open 10:30am to 4:30pm daily (weather permitting) Through April 27: Open 9am to 4:30pm Wed–Sun Starting April 28: Open 8am to 4:30pm daily In Horseshoe Park on US Hwy 34 west of Estes Park. Information Highest visitor center in the NPS at 11,796 feet. Extraordinary On US Hwy 34 north of Grand Lake. Information, maps, free and ranger programs. Good wildlife viewing. alpine views, displays, information, a bookstore, and an adjacent park movie, exhibits, a bookstore, and wilderness camping gift shop and cafe. permits. On Bear Lake Road. Interactive exhibits, nature trail with great Activities and Talks Walks and Hikes Quick, casual, and interactive, talks and activities are great for all ages and abilities! Learn about bears, elk, the coming winter season, and so much more. From brief strolls to true hikes, these programs get you moving. Birds, lakes, flowers, waterfalls, geology, history—join a ranger to discover new trails and ideas. Special Events Earth Day Celebration Saturday, April 20 Endangered Species Day Friday, May 17 World Migratory Bird Day Saturday, June 6 Special Event: 10am to 2pm Special Program: 7pm Birding in the Field: 8am to 12pm Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Earth Day is a chance for the world to unite around the importance of environmental science. Create cool artwork at our arts and crafts table, or chat with park staff and scientists. Greenhouse tours will also be available, offering a great way to see young plants springing to life. Learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions you can take to help. A biologist will share successes of the Endangered Species Act, which has successfully prevented the extinction of hundreds of species like Bald Eagles and Humpback Whales. Meet at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Bring binoculars and a field guide for a ranger-led birding excursion. Come for part or all of this multi-location event. Call 970 5861206 for more information. Special Program: 7–8:30 pm Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Spring Program Guide 2019 5 Ranger-led Programs East Side Wheelchair-accessible WA L K S , H I K ES , A N D AC T I V I T I ES LENGTH L O C AT I O N SUN Bear Necessities 30 minute Beaver 10 am Join a ranger to learn about the amazing lives of talk Meadows MON TUE WED THU FRI S AT 10 am Visitor Center Rocky’s bears and how you can help save them. Starts 4/28 Beaver Meadows Evening Programs 45 minute Beaver 7 pm 7 pm Enjoy a variety of special evening programs at Beaver program Meadows 5/17 only 5/25, 6/1, 6/8, 6/15 Visitor Center Meadows Visitor Center. Auditorium Bighorn Basics 30 minute Sheep Lakes 10:30 am 10:30 am Sheep Lakes is a popular place to view bighorn sheep. talk Information No No Station program program 6/3 6/4 Learn about this majestic symbol of Rocky. (May be 10:30 am canceled due to weather.) Starts 5/11 Spring Bird Walk 1.5 hour Cub Lake Go birding with a local expert at one of the best times walk Trailhead in 8 am 10:30 am 10:30 am 10:30 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 10:30 am Moraine Park of the year. Bring binoculars and a field guide. Be prepared for a frosty, damp morning. Starts 4/21 Springing to Life 30 minute Beaver Join a ranger to discover what springtime means to the talk Meadows 10 am 10 am Visitor Center many animals that call Rocky home. Ends 4/27 West Side TA L K S A N D A C T I V I T I E S LENGTH L O C AT I O N Rotating Programs Varies Varies SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI S AT Talk and activities will vary throughout the spring. For details, stop by the Kawuneeche Visitor Center or visit our website. Wild iris in Moraine Park. Become a Junior Ranger Junior Rangers have fun discovering the natural world and learning why we need to protect our national parks. We need the help of all our rangers to keep Rocky protected for years to come. Pick up a free Junior Ranger activity booklet at any visitor contact station, discover the park, and become a ranger by earning your badge! 6 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado There are activity books for kids ages 5 and under, 6–8, and 9 and up. Saturday, April 20, is National Junior Ranger Day—join us for extra fun! The park’s Junior Ranger Program is funded by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy and is a great way to get kids out exploring and discovering their national park. N P S P H O T O / C R Y S TA L B R I N D L E Hiking in Spring Wa n t a c h a n c e t o h i k e a l l in a day? Try hiking in spring! four se a sons Weather • Be prepared for a wide range of temperatures. Some days are warm and sunny. Others are cold and snowy. Others still switch back and forth between both! • In Rocky, spring means SNOW! March and April are the snowiest months of the year, and new snow isn’t uncommon in May or even early June. Trails • Trail conditions vary from day to day. Before going on a hike, check recent trail conditions at go.nps.gov/ RockyTrailConditions or visit a visitor center and check with a ranger. Carry the Essentials 33Lots of water and high-energy food 33Layers of clothing including storm gear, hat, gloves 33Sunglasses with UV protection 33Sunscreen 33First aid kit 33Topographic map and compass/GPS 33Flashlight or headlamp 33Waterproof matches, pocket knife, whistle 33Sturdy footwear and extra socks N P S P H O T O / J I M W E S T FA L L V I P EAST SIDE ROUND TRIP Bear Lake 0.5 mi Enjoy an easy stroll around a beautiful mountain lake. Trail has snow well into June. Only a portion of the trail is wheelchair End of Bear Lake Road 0.8 km accessible. Lily Lake 0.8 mi A level walk around Lily Lake featuring wildflowers, waterfowl, and mountain views. Lily Lake Trailhead 1.3 km Moraine Park Discovery Center Nature Trail 0.5 mi Winds up and down hillside behind Discovery Center (open May 26). Self-guiding trail book available. 0.8 km Sprague Lake 0.5 mi Bear Lake Road 0.8 km Tundra Communities Trail 0.6 View the miniature world of the alpine tundra and enjoy sweeping views of the park. Trail often has snow well into the summer Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road 1.0 km season. Packed gravel, level-grade trail around lovely lake. (open May 25, weather permitting) WEST SIDE ROUND TRIP Adams Falls 0.6 mi East Inlet Trailhead 1 km Coyote Valley Trail 1 mi Coyote Valley Trailhead 1.6 km Beautiful short hike near Grand Lake. Trail continues beyond falls to lush meadows with mountain views. Follows bank of the Colorado River. Look for wildlife. Packed gravel, level grade. Open in May, weather permitting. Holzwarth Historic Site 1 mi Explore a historic homestead cabin and 1920s dude ranch. Brochures, interpretive signs. Buildings closed and unstaffed in off-season, US Hwy 34 1.6 km but you are welcome to tour the grounds. Alpenglow softly falls on Bowen Mountain, a prominent peak on the west side of the park. NPS PHOTO / RUSSELL SMITH Spring Program Guide 2019 7 Half the Park is After Dark! Though famous for its scenic vistas, watchable wildlife, and wide world of outdoor activities, there’s something else incredible about Rocky: its night skies! So don’t forget to enjoy the park after dark. And if you return to Rocky during summer, consider joining a night sky program. More at go.nps.gov/RockyNightSkies. NPS PHOTO / KIM GROSSMAN VIP 8 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Wildlife Many amazing animals call Rocky home. To K E E P W I L D L I F E W I L D Never feed or approach wildlife • Keep a safe distance. If you cause an keep them and you safe and comfortable: animal to move or change behavior, • Obey wildlife closure areas and you are too close! Approaching an “no stopping” traffic zones. • Use parking areas along the road. If not available, pull your vehicle completely off the road and do animal puts you at risk and may cause it stress, leading to disease and illness. • Never feed wildlife, including birds and chipmunks. not park on vegetation. Wild and Watchable With elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and moose calling Rocky Mountain National Park home, it’s no surprise that wildlife watching is rated the number-one activity by many of Rocky’s visitors. Park roads provide access to this wonderful world, so bring your binoculars and don’t forget your camera — you never know when you may see something! The park’s great large-animal population makes it one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations. But also found in Rocky Mountain National Park are nearly 60 other species of mammals, more than 270 recorded bird species, four amphibians (including the endangered boreal toad), two reptiles, 11 species of fish, and countless insects, including a surprisingly large number of butterflies. For the bird aficionados, keep an eye out for the birds that call Rocky home. Steller’s Jays, with their striking blue bodies, are year-round residents, as are Canada Jays, Clark’s Nutcrackers, and the iridescent, longtailed Black-billed Magpies. Other birds, like the tiny, brilliant Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and Western Tanagers come here to nest and raise their young in the summers, wintering in warmer places. Elk Moose Habitat Meadows, meadow-forest boundaries. Common at lower elevations spring–fall. Habitat Streambeds and meadows Viewing tips Look at dusk and dawn in Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Harbison and Holzwarth meadows. During the fall mating season, bull elk can be heard bugling as they attempt to attract harems of cow elk. Viewing tips These large mammals frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley on the park’s west side and are increasingly being seen on the park’s east side. Bighorn Sheep Black Bear Coyote Habitat Rocky mountainsides and canyons Habitat All habitats throughout the park Habitat All habitats throughout the park Viewing tips May through mid-August, often seen along US Hwy 34/Fall River corridor on park’s east side, or high on Trail Ridge Road and the rocky alpine of the park’s west side. Look for lambs around mid-June. Viewing tips Black bears range over large areas—sightings are a rare treat and should be treated with respect (see detailed tips on page 2). There are no grizzly bears in Rocky—if you see a bear, it’s a black bear. Viewing tips Can be seen parkwide at any time of day. Yipping and howling is sometimes heard in the evening and morning. Mule Deer Yellow-bellied Marmot Pika Habitat All habitats throughout the park Habitat Rock piles Habitat Rock piles at higher elevations Viewing tips At lower elevations, mule deer are most often found in open areas, usually at dawn and dusk. Viewing tips Look for marmots sunbathing on rock outcroppings on the t