Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With a rich history and rare wildlife, the park has more to offer than just outstanding views. Below are the top five reasons Rocky Mountain National Park is unique.
One: RMNP is one of the oldest parks in the United States. In fact, 2015 denotes the park’s one hundredth year anniversary. As with other national parks, the formation of RMNP was not without its controversies. Land valued for mining, logging and cattle ranching, besides containing private properties, did not easily become a national park without a battle.
Two: The rare boreal toad and “special” trout exist in the park. Once considered extinct, a population of greenback cutthroat trout was discovered in the Big Thompson River of RMNP in the 1950’s. Now Colorado’s state fish, an effort to repopulate Colorado’s lakes and streams has been underway for years. Okay, there have been some mishaps and confusion surrounding the greenback. In fact, recent genetic research has revealed that the only true population of greenback trout live in a creek southwest of Colorado Springs. Luckily a hotel owner in the 1880’s stocked the waterway for tourists with the species. So now the trout in RMNP might be reclassified. But the park still plays host to a variety of unusual flowers and fauna, such as pikas who cannot survive at temperatures above seventy.
Three: The longest, highest altitude highway in the United States is in Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road, built in the 1930’s as part of Highway 34, spans approximately fifty miles between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake through the park. With an elevation reaching over 12,000 feet, it winds its way through tundra and crosses the continental divide. Closed in the winter due to snowdrifts sometimes exceeding twenty feet, the road is a delight for summer visitors. A few words of warning if you plan to drive the road. Leave early, at least before ten, during heavy tourist months and do not go if breathtaking heights and views make you squeamish.
Four: RMNP respects the sounds of silence. One just has to love the local League of Women Voters who pestered the federal government relentlessly until finally in 1998 touring aviation over the park was banned. In fact, RMNP is the only national park where tourist choppers and small planes are not allowed to intervene with the sounds of nature. Only higher flying commercial aviation is allowed over the park. This is a big deal. Consider the fact that places such as the Grand Canyon can have hundreds of tourist trap flights per day, disturbing the animals and visitors on the ground.
Five: RMNP has been a tourist destination for about ten thousand years. Hey, modern man wasn’t the only one who thought this place was great. In fact, researchers believe there were regular seasonal visits to the park for hunting and camping, with primitive man arriving from the surrounding regional meadows and valleys, packing projectile points in their “backpacks.” More recently, as in the last three hundred years, the Utes and Arapaho enjoyed the park’s setting. And what better recommendation than that can you give.
“REACHING ROCKY MOUNTAIN JIM” by Kari August details the life of James Nugent, a trapper who lived in Colorado during the 1870’s, and his compelling relationship with English author Isabella Bird, while fighting to save Estes Park from Lord Dunraven’s land scheme. The novel is available on Amazon books and Macdonald’s Bookshop in Estes Park. Mountain Track Publishing will be releasing the next novel by Kari August, “THE ARRIVAL OF RICHARD III,” June, 2015. Medieval and modern man comically clash in Estes Park in this romping tale in which Richard III returns to the twenty-first century to repair his damaged reputation. Kari August also writes a blog about What to do in Estes Park, the town adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park at http://wtdep.blogspot.com
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