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Rocky Mountain National Park

Around The Parks: Fire At Rocky Mountain, Snowshoe Hikes At Sleeping Bear, Big Cypress Rescue

Though December is here, fires are still possible in the National Park System, as evidenced by one this week at Rocky Mountain National Park. For those looking forward to winter, know that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is scheduling snowshoe treks. And if you're thinking of hiking the Florida Scenic Trail, beware of high water that trapped two hikers recently.

Exploring Winter’s Wonders In The National Park System

It started in mid-September; a few flakes began to flutter across the Crown of the Continent in Glacier National Park. The snow since then has slowly spread east and west, north and south. By January the white mantle likely will cover the whole northern tier of the National Park System, from Acadia west to Olympic, south through Rocky Mountain, into Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain national parks.

Long-Distance Trails For Your Consideration

Since 1966, national scenic and historic trails have been an American priority. They traverse mountains, canyons, forests, and grasslands across the country, crossing creeks and rivers and skirting lakes. These narrow corridors through the wilderness provide recreation and protect historic resources while conserving natural features. There are many physical, emotional, and logistical requirements for these trips, and winter is the perfect season to get in shape and plan for a long walk. Here’s a quick look at a few of these trails to help you plan a trip.

Trails I've Hiked: Mills Lake And Beyond At Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, with its sky-scraping peaks, deep valleys gouged out of the landscape by creeks and rivers fueled by snowmelt, and forests thick with conifers and dappled with aspens, is a hiker's dreamscape. Though there are only 355 miles of marked trails, far fewer than Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Glacier, and many other national parks, Rocky Mountain "hikes" much bigger than it seems.

Defiance At Rocky Mountain National Park

Glacial erratic along the trail to Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park/Kurt Repanshek

This glacial erratic rests in aptly named Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. How long has it been there? How long might it be before it's gone? The most recent glaciation across North America was the Wisconsin (also known as the Pinedale glaciation in the Rockies), which lasted from 70,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Kurt Repanshek

Staff At Rocky Mountain National Park Proposing To Permanently Close Crater Trail

Though just a mile in length, short by most national park trails, the Crater Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park has turned into a problem due to erosion, its crossing of an archaeological site, and its passage through an area for bighorn lambing. As a result, park officials are proposing to permanently close the trail and restore that landscape.

Fall Spectacular: What's That Sound? Where To Listen To -- And Look For -- Wildlife in the National Parks

In the fall, animals and birds prepare for winter. Bears eat constantly to fatten up before they slow down. Many birds are already on their migration path. Elk and other ungulates are preparing for the mating ritual, the rut. Take a look -- or stop and listen -- in many national parks this fall and you'll catch a glimpse of this autumnal spectacular.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide