This year is one of those really dry years and in combination with high winds, wildfires are always possible. We recently had about 20 homes catch fire at the western edge of Estes Park. That fire lasted only a few hours and the local fire departments did an amazing job saving as many homes as possible. We all are keeping those folks who lost homes and cherished memories in our hearts. But it is important to know that the park is fine and the fires around Colorado are not limiting your Rocky Mountain National Park experience at all.
We can see a plume of smoke most days from the High Park Fire to our northeast (which is near Fort Collins), but that smoke is blowing east. Most mornings when you look east you can see the smoke layer way out over the great plains. This picture of Sprague Lake shows that well. But in the park we haven't seen smoke except for two days with odd winds blowing in from the plains east to west (typically the wind blows west to east).
Wildfire, though destructive to homes, is actually very natural and extremely beneficial to the ecosystems of the Rockies. Fires have burned in our forests nearly every 200-400 years, and it is nature's reset button. As soon as that ash cools, a vast variety of plant seeds that have been sitting dormant in the soil start to take off. Flowers like Fireweed, Locoweed, and Lupine will start growing from the ashes. Lodge Pole Pines have cones specially designed for fire, called serotinous cones that open after temps reach around about 150 degrees F, and they will replant the forest. Eventually the forest will regrow completely and years from now, those burnt areas will be vibrant and healthy.
Guest post by Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding. To schedule a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park visit YWGuiding.com.
Summer has arrived in Rocky Mountain National park and brought with it Discovery Days, an interactive environmental education program for families! Each Discovery Day offers something new to learn about in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are a variety of activities to participate in including hands-on education stations, arts and crafts, and a reading/puppet corner. This program is designed to creat an immersive experience for families to learn more about Rocky Mountain National Park's ecology, geology, and even its rangers! Discovery Days will take place on the lower lever of the Fall River Visitor Center every Tuesday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, through August 14, with a new theme each week. Participants can stop by at any time and spend as little or as much time as they want exploring the education stations, actitivies, and crafts.
The Discovery Day Tuesday Line Up:
June 26: Nature Detectives
July 3: Predators of the Park
July 10: Top of the World (Alpine Tundra)
July 26: Trail Masters (Orienteering and Leave No Trace Ethics)
July 31: Secrets of the Past (History)
Aug 7: Ranger Day (Ranger Jobs)
Aug 14: Water, Water Everywhere
Come by each Tuesday for a new adventure!
For more info about RMNP, please call the park's Information Office at 970-586-1363.