Rocky Mountains National Park
 

Location - Rocky Mountain National Park is located in north central Colorado. The park is located northwest of Boulder, Colorado.


Size - 265,000 acres    

The park has grown to more than 415 square miles. In 1990, it gained another 465 acres when Congress approved expanding the park to include the area known as Lily Lake.


Region - West


Geography and Climate -  mountains, Colorado River, over 30                                                             fishable lakes, ponds, streams,                                                             waterfalls, meadows and forests

These natural features bring visitors to the park to go mountain climbing, fishing, backpacking and camping, skiing and snowmobiling, even bird watching.

Weather - Temperatures are often mild at elevations below 9,400 feet. At higher points like Bear Lake, Trail Ridge Road or Longs Peak it may even snow in July.

A wide variation between day and nighttime temperatures is also typical of mountain weather. Summer days in July and August often reach the 70's or 80's and drop into 40's at night.

Based on ten years of precipitation data, Estes Park( an area in the park) receives approximately 13.10 inches of moisture every year. Grand Lake (another area) receives about 19.95 inches yearly. This precipitation comes in the form of rain or snowfall through the year.

The Continental Divide runs northwest to southeast through the center of the park atop the high peaks. This accounts for two distinct weather patterns, one typical of the east side near Estes Park and the other associated with the Grand Lake area on the park's west side.

Summer: sunny mornings, possible afternoon thunderstorms and cool nights.

Winter: cool conditions to blizzard conditions with extreme temperature variations.Weather conditions change quickly in mountainous areas and snow is possible year round. Wear appropriate dress for each season; comfortable clothing, dress in layers, rain gear, and sunscreen.

 


History - The U.S. government bought the park's original 358 square miles in the huge Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Early French trappers and the Spanish explorers seemed to have avoided the current park boundaries in their wilderness trips.

Few settlers made their homes in this rugged country. However word about this beautiful area did spread and mountain climbers helped to popularize the area.

In the late 1870's, large veins of silver and gold had been discovered in some areas of the Rockies, miners considered the area a land of opportunity and headed here in droves during Colorado's gold rush.

The rousing boom times gave way to a busy homesteading period. Ranchers and farmers felt that the real wealth of the Rockies lay in its water. Unfortunately both mining and homesteading in the area came to an end.

Later dude ranches began attracting city dwellers, who were looking for an original adventure.

President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation on January 26, 1915 to create Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

 

Wildlife - Elk, big-horned sheep, moose, mule deer, otters, bats,                        marmots, golden eagles, prairie falcons, brook and                        rainbow trout

 

Wildlife in the park includes over 60 species of mammals; more than 280 recorded bird species; six amphibians, including the federally endangered boreal toad; one reptile (the harmless garter snake); 11 species of fish; and countless insects, including a surprisingly large number of butterflies.

 

Highlights - Seasons in the Rockys

Summer

Summer in Rocky Mountain National Park means green meadows, shimmering lakes, plentiful wildlife and flower shows on the alpine tundra.

But to many visitors, memories of the summer months include full campgrounds, long searches for parking spaces and competing with other visitors for the perfect shot of a popular lake or waterfall.

It's certainly possible to find quiet places in the summertime, but many visitors are discovering the fall, winter and spring seasons are when peace prevails at Rocky Mountain.

Fall

As summer becomes autumn, the shortening days trigger changes in the world. Two of the park's most anticipated events occur in September and October.

The first event is when elk begin moving to lower elevations in preparation for the mating season. Along with the mating season comes the yellows, golds and oranges of changing leaves. This event has the aspen trees, which occur on both sides of the park, offering the most brilliant colors. A walk through the autumn forests also reveals reds and golds of numerous understory plants. Autumn days are often splendid - crisp and clear with an occasional snowfall.

Winter

Winter begins early at Rocky Mountain's high elevations. By mid-November, the Kawuneeche Valley usually has enough snow for long, gentle cross-country ski tours and snowshoe treks.

Wildlife viewing is especially rewarding in the wintertime. The sights of a coyote hunting in a snow-covered meadow, of herds of elk with their breath frosting the air or a cow and a calf moose's image shadowed against the snow are unforgettable images.

Spring

Spring arrives at different times in the park, depending on elevation and slope. In the Kawuneeche Valley and Bear Lake areas, late-lying snow still pleases skiers and snowshoers. Meanwhile, lower-elevation areas are beginning to bud and bloom.

Beginning in mid-March, look for the nests of the peregrine and prairie falcons, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and ravens on the warm, sunny cliffs. You can begin to search for the season's first wildflowers, including blue, tulip-shaped pasqueflowers; little pink springbeauties; and yellow sage buttercups. Beginning in early April, the ground squirrels and marmots emerge from hibernation. Mountain bluebirds, which begin returning from their winter grounds in March, are brilliant in flight.

As the spring season continues, the melting snowline climbs higher into the mountains. Following soon are summer and summer's larger crowds. Those who visited the high country during Rocky Mountain's quiet seasons - fall, winter and spring, know they and nature shared some very special times.

 

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