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Title: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - Natural History Handbook Series #3
Author: Alberta, Edwin C.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - Natural History Handbook Series #3" ***

    [Illustration: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR · March 3, 1849]

                     Stewart L. Udall, _Secretary_

                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                      Conrad L. Wirth, _Director_


This publication is one of a series of handbooks explaining the natural
history of scenic and scientific areas in the National Park System
administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the
Interior. It is printed by the Government Printing Office and may be
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C., 20401

                             Price 35 cents

                             ROCKY MOUNTAIN
                        NATIONAL PARK · COLORADO

                          By Edwin C. Alberts

    [Illustration: Bighorn sheep]

                _Washington, D.C., 1954 (Revised 1963)_


                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                    Natural History Handbook Series

  No. 1. Olympic National Park
  No. 2. Badlands National Monument
  No. 3. Rocky Mountain National Park
  No. 4. Saguaro National Monument
  No. 5. Great Smokey Mountains National Park


Rocky Mountain National Park, established on January 26, 1915, and
containing about 410 square miles, is administered by the National Park
Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

The National Park System, of which this park is a unit, is dedicated to
conserving the scenic, scientific, and historic heritage of the United
States for the benefit and enjoyment of its people.

A superintendent is in immediate charge of Rocky Mountain National Park,
with headquarters in Estes Park village on the east side of the park.
Address communications to the Superintendent, Rocky Mountain National
Park, Box 1086, Estes Park, Colo.

                      America’s Natural Resources

Created in 1849, the Department of the Interior—America’s Department of
Natural Resources—is concerned with the management, conservation, and
development of the Nation’s water, wildlife, mineral, forest, and park
and recreational resources. It also has major responsibilities for
Indian and territorial affairs.

As the Nation’s principal conservation agency, the Department works to
assure that nonrenewable resources are developed and used wisely, that
park and recreational resources are conserved, and that renewable
resources make their full contribution to the progress, prosperity, and
security of the United States—now and in the future.


  THE MOUNTAINS ARE MADE                                                3
  THE WORK OF GLACIERS                                                  5
  THE MOUNTAINS ARE MANTLED WITH PLANTS                                10
  PLANT COMMUNITIES                                                    12
      Below 9,000 Feet                                                 12
      The Middle Belt                                                  18
      Above Treeline                                                   21
  ANIMAL LIFE                                                          23
      Hoofed Mammals                                                   23
      Predatory Mammals                                                27
      Gnawing Mammals                                                  31
      Coldblooded Vertebrates                                          37
      Birds                                                            42
  MAN IN THE ROCKIES                                                   46
  CLIMATE                                                              48
  PARK SEASON                                                          49
  WHAT TO DO                                                           49
      Automobile Trips                                                 50
      Trail Trips                                                      54
  SUGGESTED READINGS                                                   60
  APPENDIX A—GUIDE TO MAMMAL OBSERVATION                               62
  APPENDIX B—GUIDE TO BIRD OBSERVATION                                 64

    [Illustration: Notchtop and Little Matterhorn from Fern Lake.]

In 1859, Colorado’s historic gold rush _beckoned a legion of pioneers,
and led indirectly to the settlement of the verdant meadows at the foot
of the Front Range in the vicinity of modern Estes Park, and eventually
to a “rush” of vacationists. As the scenic splendor of this region
became better known, many public-spirited citizens recognized the need
for preserving portions of the area as a National Park. In 1915, Rocky
Mountain National Park was dedicated in simple ceremonies, at what is
now called Horseshoe Park. Since that time millions of visitors have
enjoyed the natural wonders of the park, including placid mountain
lakes, rushing streams, and verdant high-country meadows. Here are trout
to catch, native mammals and birds to be seen and photographed, and
trails to hike._

    [Illustration: Pine tree on bare slopes.]

Park rangers are often asked, “What are the main attractions of Rocky
Mountain National Park?” It is hard to answer this question, for the
appeal of the park, somewhat like that of a symphony, lies in the varied
yet repeated experiences or melodies which may be found within its
framework. The raw beauty of the rugged mountains contrasts with the
calm loveliness of wildflower gardens growing nearby. Some visitors
enjoy the solitude, while others appreciate the opportunity to meet
people with like interests and to hike with organized groups on some of
the 200 miles of trails. Many derive pleasure from quietly studying the
fascinating world of nature preserved in the park. Some vigorously
battle the steep slopes of the mountains; others relax in camp, soothed
by the sound of the wind in the trees. Each person enjoys the park in
his own way. There are regulations, but no regimentation, no compulsory
activities, no “musts.” The park was established for all to use, but not
to abuse.

Rocky Mountain National Park comprises about 400 square miles of the
Front Range. The altitude of the park is high, with cool summers the
inevitable result. There are more than 65 named peaks exceeding 10,000
feet. The Continental Divide, separating slopes draining to the Pacific
Ocean from those draining to the Gulf of Mexico, runs through the park.

    [Illustration: Moraines extending into the meadows, seen from Many
    Parks Curve on Trail Ridge Road.]

To those who study it, the park reveals stories of great natural dramas
of earth forces that made its deep gorges and lofty peaks, and of
once-mighty glaciers that carved its remote lakes. Its forests and
wildflowers tell a story of struggle and adjustment to environments that
differ with altitude and exposure. Its native populations—deer, elk,
bear, beaver, birds and the myriad lesser creatures of the wild—can be
seen in their natural habitats. Its streams attract the hopeful
fisherman; its unmodified natural compositions enthrall the artist; its
cool, green setting appeals to all summer travelers.

Enos Mills, “father” of Rocky Mountain National Park, wrote about 40
years ago:

  A National Park is a fountain of life.... Without parks and outdoor
  life all that is best in civilization will be smothered. To save
  ourselves—to enable us to live at our best and happiest, parks are
  necessary. Within National Parks is room—glorious room—room in which
  to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to
  rest, and resolve.

His words are even more significant to our generation than they were to
his. This booklet is an attempt to provide a concise summary of some of
the park’s important natural values and to arouse your appetite for
further pursuit of the enjoyment they offer. The basic experience in
this National Park, as in most, is to capture some of the inspiration
and spiritual qualities of the landscape which Enos Mills felt so

                         THE MOUNTAINS ARE MADE

The geological story of Rocky Mountain National Park is a long one. Most
of its details are lost in the passage of hundreds of millions of years.
Some of the story has been put together by scientists from bits of
evidence scattered here and there. The evidence strongly indicates a
certain chain of events, but no eyewitnesses are available to confirm
the deductions. Few of these events can be proved to everyone’s
satisfaction; we can but pass on to you some determinations that
geologists have made.

Most of the rocks which you see in the park are crystalline and very
ancient. The gneiss and schist were, in part, once sediments formed in
seas, perhaps a billion years ago, under conditions about which there is
little knowledge or general agreement. These sediments were buried
beneath thousands of feet of other sediments, cemented and hardened into
layers of sedimentary rock and later squeezed, crushed, and elevated by
slow, ceaselessly working earth forces that produced mountains even in
that ancient time. During this period the sedimentary rocks were changed
to harder metamorphic rocks, probably because of deep burial under
tremendous pressure and considerable heat. Masses of molten rock welled
up into these earlier deposits and hardened under the earth’s surface.
This later (though still very ancient) intrusive material is now exposed
granite in many parts of Rocky Mountain National Park.

    [Illustration: Rocks once buried miles deep are now exposed on Longs
    Peak, at an altitude of more than 14,000 feet.]

These ancient mountains were gradually worn away by wind, rain, and
other agents of erosion, which must have attacked the surface of the
earth as vigorously then as now. With the passage of millions of years,
these mountains were reduced to a lowland. Another sea gradually lapped
over the land where mountains had been, and once again sediments were
dropped in its bottom. This new invasion of the ocean affected the park
region during many millions of years in which the dinosaurs dominated
the earth.

In response to little-understood rhythms of the earth’s crust, which
have lifted mountains ever so slowly at great intervals all over the
world, the seas drained away as the crust rose again, and the rising
land once more became subject to the ceaseless attack of erosion. This
uplift—which began about 60 million years ago—originated the system of
mountain ranges and basins that today give Colorado its spectacular
scenery and much of its climate. This great period of mountain-making is
called the Laramide Revolution, from its early recognition in the
Laramie Basin region of Wyoming.

The Front Range, of which this park preserves a choice sample, was
buckled in the fashion of a great long wrinkle in a carpet. This “roll”
of rock was about 200 miles long and some 40 miles across. In its
earlier stages it was covered by the arched-up sediments, but, as time
passed and erosion continued, the inner core of earlier crystalline
rocks was exposed once again. Today, all traces of the former thick
mantle of sedimentary beds are gone from the park. They are still
present beneath the plains to the east and the basins to the west, and
the cut-off ends of some of them now lie exposed in a tilted position
against both east and west flanks of the mountains. The sandstones of
some of the hogback ridges crossed by the approach roads from Lyons and
Loveland are a part of this once continuous overburden.

Uplift continued intermittently during many millions of years. In the
western section of the park, volcanic eruptions took place. Specimen
Mountain is the remnant of a volcano; some of its flows are seen today
as the cliffs behind Iceberg Lake, on Trail Ridge Road. Great sheets of
lava and other volcanic rocks piled in layers now make up much of the
Never Summer Range. Eventually, these rocks, too, will be stripped away
by the relentless work of erosion; this will require millions of years.

An unusual feature of the landscape here is the rolling, sometimes
flattened character of many mountain summits. Trail Ridge Road crosses
several miles of one of these summits—a gently rolling upland above
11,000 feet. These mountaintops appear to be all that is left of an old
land surface that once may have been continuous far eastward over the
area occupied today by the Great Plains. Such surfaces, of which the
mountains in the park show many good remnants, are called peneplains.
Their presence atop the mountains is a part of the evidence suggesting
that the range had been worn down by erosion to a fairly flat upland a
few million years ago. Then renewed uplifting occurred, and streams
draining the highland gradually cut canyons two or three thousand feet
into the elevated surface.

                          THE WORK OF GLACIERS

These canyons were filled by glaciers at intervals during the million
years of the ice age. This period saw the formation of vast ice fields
over much of northern North America. The causes of the ice age are
complex, but its effects on our landscape are marked and convincing.

    [Illustration: Sandstone hogbacks flank the mountains on the east.
    Scene near mouth of Big Thompson Canyon, west of Loveland.]

    [Illustration: Remnants of an erosion surface on peaks south of
    Trail Ridge Road.]

    [Illustration: High mountain lakes are set among the scars of
    glacier excavation. Arrowhead Lake, in Gorge Lakes Canyon.]

    [Illustration: Great forests, high peaks, and cool summers add to
    the appeal of Rocky Mountain National Park.]

Every large high-altitude canyon in what is now Rocky Mountain National
Park became filled with snow, much of which, under pressure, turned to
ice. The glaciers thus formed, moving under their own great
weight—slowly, but with tremendous power—broadened, deepened, and
straightened the twists and turns of the original river-cut valleys,
and, bit by bit, scooped out bowls, or cirques, at the glacier sources.
These glaciers quarried and removed untold millions of tons of rocks
from the upper reaches. Many of the cliffs and lakes of the park are the
results of excavating done by the mountain glaciers.

These glaciers were entirely local; they did not extend down to the
plains in this region. At what is now an altitude of about 8,200
feet—just below present-day Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Wild Basin,
and a few miles below Grand Lake in the Colorado River valley—the
glacier fronts melted as fast as the ice advanced. It was there that
most of the rock debris plucked from higher up was dropped. Piles of
rock are scattered over most of the meadowlands of this general
altitude. These rock deposits are called moraines—ridges and heaps, or
scattered masses, of unsorted rock debris dumped where they settled from
the melting ice. Classic examples of moraines may be seen in Moraine
Park, named for these special features. You can learn more about them at
the Moraine Park Visitor Center.

When climatic changes caused the glaciers to melt back faster than they
advanced, the moraines, like modern dams, formed lakes behind them
whenever stream drainage from the shrinking glaciers was checked.
Several such lakes, now silted in and changed to green meadows, occupied
lower regions in the park. There are good examples of these lakes in
Horseshoe Park and Moraine Park.

    [Illustration: Bierstadt Ridge, a huge glacial moraine, seen en
    route to Bear Lake.]

The glaciers invaded the park valleys several times during the ice age.
Usually, two distinguishable ages of moraines can be seen; the older and
more extensive one is made up of well-weathered, “rotten” boulders and
finer material, while the newer ones are scarcely altered at all. It is
thought that the last great glaciers retreated only some 12,000 years
ago. Indians lived on the plains at that time!

    [Illustration: Andrews Glacier, late in season. Note crevasse in
    upper middle of glacier.]

It is by no means certain that the glacier age is entirely a thing of
the past. Five small glaciers, or “glacierets,” of geologically recent
origin—Taylor, Andrews, Tyndall, Rowe, and Sprague—exist today in the
park. They are much smaller than the earlier glaciers; but they are ice
masses, and they are moving (though very slowly); so they are glaciers
by definition. They are accessible only by arduous foot travel, but the
first three are visible from heavily traveled roads and trails of the

The story of the geological events, as we have seen, is long. The
landscape of today, we now realize, is transient. It is the contemporary
product of processes that have been working day and night throughout
geologic time. These processes will certainly go on and on, and
inevitably will continue to change the landscape. Each year sees some
little modification here and there. These small changes are not linked
in our thinking with the vast sweep of geologic time, probably because
our own lives are so very short. With some reflection we seem to catch
glimpses of eternity as we examine the ancient gray cliffs and mighty
peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park.


Having seen that the present mountains are the result of past events, we
should not be surprised to learn that the plant cover of the park is
also dependent on what has occurred before. We are inclined to think of
a plant community, such as a forest, as a permanent fixture; but it is a
dynamic, never-stagnant population of individual living things, and in
some ways resembles a community of people.

Just as human populations ebb and flow through periods of great
numerical growth and dominance, followed by decline and engulfment by
invading peoples, so do vegetation types go through periods of dominance
and decline. When certain conditions of climate and soil prevail, those
kinds of plants best adapted to such conditions will dominate the scene.
As conditions change, the flora will change.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, we assume that toward the end of the
ice age most of the high altitude landscape was either ice-covered or
barren, like our present-day rockpiles above treeline. As the ice melted
and disappeared, the bare rocks of the canyons were exposed, and lakes
occupied what are now the meadows. The climate was changing, though, and
the rather sparse arctic-type plantlife was superseded by another
vegetation complex, except on the very tops of the mountains.

The ice-age vegetation was presumably connected with that of the regions
bordering the Arctic Ocean. The present tundra of the high country in
the park is an island of arctic-type vegetation, surrounded on all sides
by plant communities of lower latitudes. Will it be engulfed some day
and replaced by surrounding plant types? If the climate continues to
moderate, the answer may be “Yes.”

Most of the original sparse arctic flora has already disappeared. The
bare rocks were first invaded by lichens—those plant pioneers still to
be seen on rocks in the park. In the thin soil formed by their life
processes, other primitive plants became established. As the climate
moderated and soils formed where bare rocks formerly existed, a new
vegetation complex replaced the old.

We suppose that all sorts of plants got started on this new land, but
only those species which happened to be adapted for the particular
conditions of their time would last long enough to become well
established and to produce ample seeds for future generations. This
selective elimination of plants which were not adjusted to the changing
conditions results in the dominance of certain well-adjusted species. In
this way, according to scientists, a climax vegetation develops for a
particular situation. As long as the climate remains about the same, the
climax vegetation remains relatively stable.

    [Illustration: Rugged cliffs and mighty peaks are spectacular
    products of geologic forces.]

Although it has been thousands of years since these plant communities
first started on the glaciated bedrock, the struggle for dominance among
the plants still goes on. Conditions are not yet completely static and
probably never will be. The meadows, the forests, and the barrens of
today may be quite different in a distant tomorrow.

                           PLANT COMMUNITIES

Below 9,000 Feet

In the lower slopes of the park, below approximately 9,000 feet
altitude, usually described as the Montane zone, the climate is
relatively warm and dry. This type of climate has encouraged a fairly
consistent pattern of vegetation that may be considered climax. The
forests in this zone are open. The trees are likely to be scattered in
characteristically parklike stands and are made up mostly of ponderosa
pine. On cool north slopes the stands are thicker, with Douglas-fir
sprinkled in or even dominant. With the ponderosa pine on drier sites is
juniper (commonly called “cedar”), and above 8,000 feet thick stands of
lodgepole pine are sometimes admixed. Along the streams are the
distinctive and graceful Colorado blue spruce, associated with willows,
birch, and alder. Aspen groves and, in lower altitudes, cottonwoods
appear here and there. Many types of shrubs, some characteristic of the
foothills, grow in the Montane zone.

The most characteristic forest tree of the lower part of this zone is
PONDEROSA PINE. It has dull-green needles from 3 to 6 inches long—longer
than those of other pines in the park—which are usually in bundles of
three. Although the bark on young trees is black, the mature trees have
a yellow-brown bark in characteristically rectangular plates. The cones
are about 3 inches long, with prickles on the tips of the cone scales.
Capable of growing in warm, dry environments, it is an evergreen of
south-facing slopes and is widespread as a forest tree in the
southwestern United States. On the cooler, north-facing slopes,
DOUGLAS-FIR mingles with the ponderosa pine. Douglas-fir is easily
identified by its needles, which grow singly along the branch instead of
in sheaths. The needles are flat, blunt, and about 1 inch long; and they
have a narrow stalk at the base that pulls off with the needle. This
distinguishes it from the blue spruce often found in the same vicinity.
The bark is smooth and gray on young trees, but rough, brownish, and
deeply furrowed on older trees. The cones are about 2 inches long, made
up of broad scales each with a projecting 3-pronged bract. Here,
Douglas-fir seldom attains the great size for which it is noted in the
Pacific Northwest.

Another conifer growing in this zone, usually along streams or in such
other wet locations, is BLUE SPRUCE, one of the most admired evergreens
of the West. Its needles produce a bloom, or powder, which gives the
tree a distinctive bluish or silver aspect, especially noticeable in
midsummer. The cones are from 3 to 5 inches long, tan-colored, with many
scales, which have narrow tips but no prickles.

In the upper parts of the Montane zone grow dense forests of LODGEPOLE
PINE, so named because the Indians used it for tepee (or lodge) poles.
It is characterized by tall, slender, straight trunks, with most of the
foliage near the top. Its trunk is usually much smaller than the other
conifers of the region—seldom exceeding 20 inches. The bark is much
thinner than that of the ponderosa pine; gray scales on the bark of
young trees become brown with age. The cones are about 2 inches long and
are borne in clusters of two or three, tightly attached to the branch.
Cones often remain on the tree for years, the seeds retaining their
vitality. After a light forest fire, the undamaged cones will open,
releasing the seeds. This is nature’s way of reseeding a fire-swept area
and explains the extremely dense stands of lodgepole pine which, for
example, you will see near Many Parks Curve.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN JUNIPER can be seen on dry hills and rocky canyon walls
in the park. Its scalelike leaves (not needles) are small and flattened
against the innumerable branches. It has no cones, but bears little,
bluish berries, which require two seasons to ripen. Usually this juniper
grows in a squat and sprawling manner.

    [Illustration: Open stands of ponderosa pine are typical of the
    lower areas of the park.]

The most common deciduous tree in the park is QUAKING ASPEN. It is
immediately recognized by its smooth, white bark and small, green leaves
that tremble with the slightest breeze, because of the curious
flattening of the petiole, or leaf stalk, at right angles to the leaf
blade. Aspen grows to considerable size in beautiful groves of tall
trees, where the moisture and shelter are sufficient, but is more often
seen in scrubby thickets on rocky, drier slopes. In September the leaves
turn to a golden color, giving early autumn travelers a matchless visual
experience. NARROW-LEAF COTTONWOOD grows along streams in the lower
altitudes of the park. Many willows also occupy streambank environments,
the most common being SCOULER WILLOW with characteristic willow leaves
and large oval catkins, which are quite conspicuous in May and early

WATER BIRCH is a thin-leaved, graceful shrub, sometimes growing to tree
size, commonly seen along streams in the lower forests. It can be
recognized by its graceful, almost delicate appearance. THINLEAF ALDER,
also abundant along streams, often grows in great clumps with many stems
growing from the same root. Widespread throughout the West, the alder
provides habitat for many bird groups. You may also recognize, by its
leaf, ROCKY MOUNTAIN MAPLE, which grows here and there in the park up to
about 11,000 feet.

The shrubs most commonly observed by the visitor are:

ANTELOPE BITTERBRUSH—a low, tough, much-branched shrub, with many
fragrant, pale-yellow blossoms in May and June. Its leaves are less than
1 inch long, wedge-shaped and 3-toothed at the apex. The spindle-shaped
seeds are important food for chipmunks and ground squirrels, and mule
deer depend on the shrub for browse. BOULDER RASPBERRY—a common bush
with showy, 5-petaled white blossoms, up to 3 inches across. During May
and June this shrub adds much beauty to the landscape. Birds eat its
berries avidly. WAX CURRANT—a common shrub found also in the highest
forests—forms rounded clumps, 1 to 3 feet high, with rigid,
much-branched stems and rounded leaves. The red berries ripen in summer
and are eaten by many birds and small rodents. This plant is alternate
host to blister rust (a disease which may affect the limber pine in the
park in the near future), and much of it has been eradicated in areas
where limber pine grows. SAGEBRUSH—a familiar plant in much of the
West—in this park grows in a dwarf form, and is common in Glacier Basin
and on the southwest slopes of Deer Mountain. This woody shrub, about 1
foot high, with 3-toothed, wedge-shaped, silvery leaves, is good forage
for mule deer.

Conspicuous wildflowers that grow below 9,000 feet in the park and that
will attract attention in their blossoming season are:

Early in the season—as early as March—AMERICAN PASQUEFLOWER exhibits its
large lavender blossoms as a sign of spring. As the season advances, its
blossoming follows the melting snow up the mountain slopes, where it may
be seen into July. This flower (without petals—the sepals resemble
petals—but with a golden center) looks somewhat like the garden crocus.
It is covered with silky hairs—almost “fur-covered.” Another
early-blooming flower is COMMON STARLILY, often called “sandlily”, which
displays narrow grasslike leaves and white, stemless flowers in early
spring. It is rare in the park, but abundant near the village of Estes
Park during May.

    [Illustration: Sagebrush is one of the shrubs heavily browsed by
    mule deer.]

STEMLESS TOWNSENDIA, locally called Easter-daisy, is another early
bloomer—most abundant in May. The inch-wide flower heads are pale pink
or white with yellow centers and are clustered on the crowns of the
plant. It is one of the composite family and is easily recognized by the
general similarity of the flower heads to those of the larger, taller
oxeye-daisy. The arnicas have several representatives in the park
region. An early-blooming variety is HEARTLEAF ARNICA which is common in
the moist fields and open ponderosa pine forests in May and June. It has
large, yellow composite blossoms, from 2 to 3 inches across; the
heart-shaped leaves are best developed at the base of the stem. ROCKY
MOUNTAIN IRIS is common in meadows of this zone, with its light-blue
flower adding color to the “parks” of the region, where moist conditions
permit its growth. SPREADING THERMOPSIS, or “golden banner,” carpets the
open areas with yellow during June and July. This common plant is a pea,
as its flowers suggest, and as the long, flat seed pods prove. The
flowers appear in clusters along the top of the stem. PLAINS ERYSIMUM,
better known locally as “western wallflower,” is also yellow, common,
and conspicuous during June and early July. Sometimes mistaken for
golden banner by visitors who drive rapidly past the meadows, it has
quite a different flower pattern, being a mustard with spikes of many
small, 4-petaled flowers.

    [Illustration: Spreading pasqueflower heralds the arrival of

As summer advances, other flowers become abundant. Penstemons present
their showy purple spikes of flowers during July. Most abundant and
conspicuous is ONESIDE PENSTEMON, usually a foot or more in height,
which often colors the meadows blue. All penstemons are easily
recognized by their lobed, generally bell-shaped flowers. The common
name beardtongue is applied to certain species which have a flattened
and bearded sterile stamen on the inside of the flower tube. This fifth
sterile stamen, whether smooth or bearded, is the source of the generic
name _Penstemon_. LAMBERT CRAZYWEED, also known as “Colorado locoweed,”
is abundant through July. It can be recognized by its spike of
reddish-purple blossoms and the narrow, pinnately compound leaves.
Curiously enough, locoweed blooms twice during the summer, the August
period of blossoming being less noticeable. FREMONT GERANIUM, or wild
pink geranium, is a lovely plant of the open pine forests, with typical
5-petaled pink geranium blossoms. COMMON PERENNIAL GAILLARDIA is a showy
composite. The flower heads are 2 to 3 inches across, with deep-maroon
to brownish centers and bright-yellow rays, often with dark bases. The
tips of these ray flowers have three distinct indentations, serving to
help distinguish this plant from BLACK-EYED-SUSAN, which is also common
in the mountain meadows.

    [Illustration: Gaillardia is one of the showiest composites.]

FIREWEED, as its name suggests, commonly blooms on areas devastated by
forest fire or other destructive agencies. Its silky seeds are easily
carried by the wind to these areas, where it becomes dominant. It blooms
from early July into September, and the deep-pink, 4-petaled flowers are
borne in long, graceful spikes. It is a common roadside plant. MINER’S
CANDLE is a hairy-stemmed plant with innumerable close-set clusters of
small, white flowers throughout its stout, straight stem. It also is
common along roadsides.

Autumn flowers become increasingly abundant in late summer. Conspicuous
are the shrubby composites, including groundsels, sunflowers, and purple
asters. While the peak of the flower display comes during July for this
lower zone, many attractive wildflowers can be seen until mid-September.

The Middle Belt

Above an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet, the forests show a
different aspect. This is another zone, called the Subalpine by some
botanists and Canadian by others. It is characterized by forests of
stately ENGELMANN SPRUCE and SUBALPINE FIR. You can tell one from the
other by touching the needles. Spruce needles are 4-sided, rigid to the
touch, and sharp-pointed; fir needles are flattened and softer to the
touch. From your car, you can spot the firs by their erect, dark-colored
cones, mostly high in the tree. This type of forest is the climax
developed in this climatic belt, which receives twice as much snow and
rain as the zone below. This relatively abundant moisture (much less,
however, than in most of the Eastern States with their broadleaf
forests) supports a luxuriant conifer cover. Wildflower gardens of rare
beauty and startling luxuriance are found in natural openings within the
forest. The distinctive blue COLORADO COLUMBINE, which ranges from the
lowest elevations up to 13,000 feet, seems to reach its best development

Other plants of the open forests in this zone include WHITE GLOBE-FLOWER
with its cream-colored, cup-shaped flower; COLUMBIA MONKSHOOD, with its
helmeted blue or white flowers; ELKSLIP MARSH-MARIGOLD, with numerous
oval white sepals often mistaken for petals; and the strikingly
beautiful PARRY PRIMROSE, with clusters of brilliant purple flowers,
often growing along the edge of a stream. Common shrubs include GREENES
MOUNTAIN-ASH, whose large clusters of white flowers are replaced by
bright red berries in autumn; BEARBERRY HONEYSUCKLE, better known in the
Rockies as twinberry, a honeysuckle with large ovate leaves 3 to 5
inches long and pairs of yellow flowers; and wild AMERICAN RED
RASPBERRY, with prickly stems, 5-petaled white flowers, and delicious
red fruit, relished by birds and hikers alike.

In the cool, shadowed depths of the forest where light is dim, another
community of plants is found, including CALYPSO, or “fairy-slipper,” a
dainty orchid with rose-colored blossoms formed in a curious slipperlike
shape; the PYROLAS, a group of low, hardy perennial herbs with white or
pink flowers having 5 thick petals and 10 stamens; SPOTTED CORALROOT, a
plant which, getting its nourishment from decaying vegetation, has no
green leaves, but bears purple-spotted flowers on its brown stem; and
AMERICAN TWINFLOWER, a trailing plant of the honeysuckle family, often
forming dense mats with upright, forked flower stems bearing a pair of
pink, bell-shaped flowers.

    [Illustration: Blue columbine—Colorado’s State flower.]

After fire or other catastrophe wipes out the spruce-fir forests, a
cycle of natural revegetation must take place before the climax forest
again becomes established. The first step in this recovery process is
the appearance of fireweed and many annual herbs, among which shrubs
such as CLIFF JAMESIA, or “waxflower,” become established, and aspens
begin to appear as succession plant types. They are replaced eventually
by longer-lived lodgepole pines, also sunloving and tolerant of burned
or denuded sites. The trees increase the wetness of the forest floor,
provide the shady sites necessary for seeds to grow in, and shelter the
young spruce and firs as they slowly increase and approach maturity.
Eventually, the spruces and firs crowd out the pioneers which have
helped them get established. This dense spruce-fir forest seems to
resist competition of other species and will maintain itself
indefinitely by gradual replenishment of its own kind, unless it is
again fire-swept or there is a change of climate. The spruce-fir forests
of the park seem to be as nearly fixed and static as forests can be; or,
in the scientists’ words, they are the _climax forest_ for the sites
they occupy.

    [Illustration: Lodgepole pine forests along Trail Ridge Road.]

The higher part of the Subalpine zone (10,500 to 11,500 feet) is often
called Hudsonian for its biological similarity to the region around
Hudson Bay. It is a sort of frontier zone where the climate is more
severe. Not only is it colder, but it is much windier, and loss of water
by evaporation is much greater than it is a thousand feet lower.
Although spruce and fir remain the dominant species, they are usually
shorter and less symmetrical in appearance. Near the upper limits of
this zone the trees are twisted and grotesque, often flat and
ground-hugging, sprawled behind boulders or fingering into the dwarf
willow clumps so characteristic of the alpine mountaintops. Here, also,
the only 5-needle pine in the park, LIMBER PINE, a rocky-soil tree of
the Subalpine zone, assumes its most picturesque aspect. Limber pine at
treeline is readily identified by its grotesque, twisted, ragged
appearance. Several splendid specimens can be seen beside Trail Ridge
Road about a half mile above Rainbow Curve. The name, limber pine, comes
from the ease with which the branches can be bent without breaking. The
cones are often 6 inches long, the largest of any conifer in Colorado.

The limber pine stands in the shadow of threatened extermination by
blister rust. This fungus disease, which attacks, girdles, and destroys
all species of 5-needled pines, has wrought havoc in many parts of the
country. Like so many virulent forest diseases, it was introduced from
abroad. Since no known natural checks on it exist in this country, it is
almost impossible to eradicate. It spreads to pines only from its
alternate hosts, wax currant and other species of _Ribes_; if these are
eradicated from the vicinity, the pines can be preserved. Though such
control measures are costly, without them the limber pine might be lost
forever from the park. The Government has been doing this work in
selected forests on the northeast slope of Longs Peak and near Estes
Cone, where many splendid specimens of this tree occur.

Above Treeline

Above the Subalpine zone, whose upper limit is treeline, lies the
Alpine, or Arctic-Alpine, zone. This is the distinctive “Land of
Lilliput” of the plant kingdom, the alpine tundra, where nearly all
existing plant species are in dwarf form. Some of the zone is barren
rock, with only algae and lichen growth. Vast expanses of it, however,
are covered with a cold, wet soil mantle which, during the brief
summertime, presents a myriad of low, cushionlike flower clumps.
Sometimes—usually through July—the effect is that of a vast carpet of
flowers. The list of plant species is great. Showiest of the alpine
flowers are ALPINE BUTTERCUP, with large, yellow, poppylike flowers,
often blooming at the very edges of snowbanks; ALPINE FORGET-ME-NOT,
which grows in dense, low clumps and presents thick patches of
bright-blue flowers; MOSS SILENE (“moss campion”), a mosslike cushion
plant with pink flowers (also found in Greenland and Alaska); GRAYLOCKS
ACTINEA, sometimes called “Old Man of the Mountain,” with bright-yellow
flower heads, usually wind-blown and ragged, almost as broad as the
plant is tall; TUFTED PHLOX, better known here as “alpine phlox,” the
cushion of which is sometimes entirely covered with pale-blue or white
flowers; AMERICAN BISTORT, with dense spikes of tiny flowers standing
like miniature bottle brushes above the tundra grasses; KINGS CROWN, a
fleshy plant with dark-red blossoms, the whole plant often turning
completely red in late summer; and MT. WASHINGTON DRYAD, with its
curious 8-petaled, cream-colored flowers.

    [Illustration: Limber pine at treeline.]

Tundra is characteristically composed of grasses, sedges, herbs, and a
few dwarfed shrubs. Many lichens and mosses also grow in tundra. The
plants are typically small, low-growing, and compact, and often have
showy flowers. There seems to be an abundance of blossoms in proportion
to the size and amount of foliage of the plants. Their small leaves are
protected from excessive water loss by masses of hairs or waxy
substances, and they frequently contain high amounts of red pigment.
Most of these plants are exceedingly slow-growing; some of those you see
may be a hundred to several thousand years old.

The story of the park’s trees and flowers is intensely interesting, but
can best be understood by more careful study than is possible in this
booklet. Several excellent botanical bulletins are available, and we
urge you to invest in one of them.

                              ANIMAL LIFE

A National Park is a spacious natural reserve, and in it those creatures
that have survived through the past are protected from harm by humans.
They are not protected from each other, there being no attempt to change
natural relationships of predator and prey.

Since the animals are in their natural habitats, and not in cages, you
may not be able to see at close range the kinds of animals you may want
to see at any time you like. Instead, you must expect to see them at
their convenience, not yours. This requires careful, patient watching,
but the rewards are great for the observant outdoorsman. An occasional
glimpse of a bull elk grazing free in his native meadow may be more
satisfying than the most detailed inspection of a confined creature in a
zoological garden. Our society needs both types of experiences.

Although there are about 35 species of mammals in the park, this booklet
can present brief descriptions of only a few of those likely to be of
greatest interest.

    [Illustration: Treeline is at about 11,500 feet altitude near Trail
    Ridge Road.]

Hoofed Mammals

The largest mammal of Rocky Mountain National Park is the AMERICAN ELK,
or “wapiti.” It is really a big deer—distinctly larger than the local
mule deer and usually with a more reddish or brownish coat. The true
American representative of the Old World elks is the moose, not found in
Rocky Mountain National Park.

American elk were almost exterminated here by ruthless hunting in
prepark days. Seventy animals introduced here in 1913 and 1914 from
Yellowstone National Park made possible the present population of over
600 elk in this park.

During summer, the elk are usually high in the mountains, feeding on the
lush grass of the widespread tundra and the forest glades. Their food
consists mostly of grass, herbs, and twigs of woody plants. The summer
is a short but prosperous time for these animals. Usually by early
autumn, fierce storms in the high country put an end to days of ample
forage, and most of the elk move down into the small meadows at lower
altitudes. In late September, as the mating season begins and the bulls
fight for possession of the herds, large groups of elk can be seen in
such places as Horseshoe Park and Beaver Meadows. This is when the
bugling challenges of the bulls can be heard echoing across the valleys.
In November, this period ends and the more prosaic struggle for survival
on the limited winter range begins.

Formerly, during winter, the elk could scatter well below the present
site of Estes Park village; now they are “bottled up” within the park
meadows, because of the encircling human developments. Or perhaps these
introduced elk and their descendants never developed a more extensive
winter migration pattern, for the more venturesome individuals among
them would have been killed or harried by hunters in the lower country
east of the park. In any case, most of them do not move out of the park.

Times are hard for the elk until spring permits their return to the high
country, where ample feed awaits them. Grave concern is felt by wildlife
experts about the winter food shortages confronting this species.
Without deliberate control by the park rangers, in order to keep the
population at a level that can be supported by the limited and overused
vegetation of the park’s winter ranges, the herd itself would face mass
starvation. The absence or near disappearance from this region of some
of the most effective predators of the elk—cougar, wolf, and grizzly—has
removed most of the aboriginal population controls.

Whether you visit the park in summer or winter, you should be able to
see elk—at least with binoculars. In summer (especially in the evenings)
you may see them along Trail Ridge Road, emerging from the forests below
Fall River Pass or the Rock Cut area. The cirque below Fall River Pass
is a good place to look for them with binoculars. From mid-September
until March or April, herds of elk are normally to be seen in Beaver
Meadows, Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, and in the meadows north of Grant
Lake; but patience and some keenness of observation are required.

    [Illustration: Although elk, especially the bulls, occasionally stay
    high in the deep-snow belt, most of them feed in lower meadows
    during winter.]

It should be easier to find MULE DEER, a familiar sight in many areas in
early morning or evening, even in midsummer. Hikers encounter them on
the trails throughout the park. When startled, the mule deer takes
flight, characteristically bounding from all four feet at once, making
soaring leaps, and landing with such force that its feet make a drumming
sound. This bouncing but graceful gait has earned it the nickname
“jumping deer” in some areas. It is effective in ascending rocky slopes
and traversing brush country.

The males of all deer, including the American elk, grow antlers
annually. For a short period in late winter and spring they have no
antlers at all, but by June the new growths begin, getting larger and
larger until August, when they attain full size. Until then, the antlers
are “in velvet”—with a soft, hairy covering—which dries up and peels or
is rubbed off. Often the animal helps the removal of the velvet by
rubbing its antlers against the trunks and branches of trees. Many
“rubbing trees” can be seen along the trails. The deer enter the mating
season with polished, full-sized antlers, and these majestic adornments
are worn until the season of shedding. One might expect to see discarded
antlers everywhere; but because they contain much salt and calcium they
are eaten by porcupines and other rodents. Few shed antlers, therefore,
are seen by visitors to the park.

    [Illustration: Mule deer are common. The fawns, born in early June,
    are spotted when young.]

    [Illustration: Male bighorn display the horns that have made them

In summer, mule deer are seen singly or in small groups, browsing in the
higher country; like the elk, they descend into the lower meadows in
autumn. They, too, find the winter difficult, because of limited range.
Deer are browsing animals, eating such things as willow, aspen, antelope
bitterbrush, and even pine needles. Much of their natural food has been
overbrowsed, and this condition has helped to make beggars of many of
them. It is not unusual to see them in the streets of Estes Park village
or near the town garbage dump looking for food. June, however, brings
the lush green vegetation on which they regain their strength. That
month also is fawning time. The spotted fawns are usually hidden in the
woods and are nursed twice a day by the mother, who stays nearby but out
of sight. Sometimes well-meaning visitors report an abandoned baby deer.
In most instances, the fawn has not been abandoned; the visitors simply
failed to see the mother in the background. Fawns, which keep their
spots until autumn, run with the mother until the next spring.

The greatest thrill for many park visitors is when a BIGHORN, or
mountain sheep, comes close enough to be photographed; however, those
occasions are rare. Like most large mammals of the West, the bighorn was
on the verge of extinction 40 years ago, but, thanks to various
conservation measures, it is now well established. Formerly, bighorn
were distributed throughout the park and beyond to the foothills. Today,
they are largely restricted, by man’s necessary settlement of the land,
to portions of the park remote from man’s developments. Most
visitors—when they get to see them at all—spot bighorn on Trail Ridge
Road near Milner Pass (on Specimen Mountain) or in the Mummy Range. They
are seen now and then near Sheep Lake (in Horseshoe Park), usually in
small family groups of ewes and lambs. Successful pictures of them have
been made mostly in this vicinity.

Predatory Mammals

Yellowstone and Yosemite are two National Parks where visitors have
ample opportunity to become acquainted with the BLACK BEAR. Many people,
by foolishly feeding or petting these wild animals, have become too
intimately acquainted, and have been injured in the process. Here in
Rocky Mountain National Park, these opportunities seldom occur, for the
bear population is low. If you are lucky enough to see one of these
bulky, furry creatures lumbering along the road, do not try to
fraternize with it.

    [Illustration: Brown bear are present in the park, but not in large

Although the species present here is called the black bear, there are
blonds among them, too. The brown bear and cinnamon bear are merely
color phases of the black bear. Bears eat almost everything, including
roots, berries, ants, frogs, fish, carrion, and such small mammals or
birds as get into their clutches. They seem to be particularly voracious
in eating garbage—discarded lunches, bacon, and similar material likely
to be present in a campground. The bear is a relatively solitary animal.
He has poor eyesight, but good hearing and sense of smell. Bears usually
hibernate in fitful sleep, living off stored-up layers of body fat. The
surprisingly small, squirrel-sized young are born in February during
this semihibernation. The mother gives devoted care to her cubs, and
defends them vigorously.

You can’t see grizzlies here, for they were extirpated from this region
before the park was established.

The COUGAR has many aliases—mountain lion, catamount, painter, panther,
puma—depending upon the locality. Almost 9 feet long including the
3-foot tail, the adult cougar may weigh over 200 pounds. Its coat is
dull, yellowish brown; immature cougars have blackish spots. It has
acute powers of sight, smell, and hearing. A sly, crafty, and tireless
hunter, it is not often seen by man even where it is abundant. The
cougar is part of the natural wildlife community, and is protected from
hunters within park boundaries. The chances of seeing one here are
remote, for many who have spent a lifetime in these mountains have never
reported seeing one. A few observations of these animals, however, are
usually reported in the park each year.

A much smaller cat occasionally seen in the park is the BOBCAT. It roams
the forested areas of the park principally hunting small rodents and
rabbits. Grouse also are taken, and on forays above treeline the bobcat
may feed upon ptarmigan. It lives in dens in the rocks and sometimes in
a hollow tree. Like the snowshoe rabbit upon which it preys, the bobcat
has natural “snowshoes”—its feet are expanded in winter by long hairs,
which help support the animal on the snow.

A close cousin to the domestic dog is the COYOTE. This exceedingly
cunning animal is actually extending its range, despite man’s attempts
to wipe it out, and is very common in the park. Few people fail to
thrill upon first hearing its song—a high, staccato yipping often heard
by visitors as they leave the evening talks at Moraine Park. You can
expect to see coyotes almost anywhere in the park; early morning is a
good time to look for them in the grassy meadows.

Another member of the dog family, the RED FOX, is seen occasionally by
visitors. It is notoriously wary and cunning, and although less
fleet-footed than the jackrabbit, it is faster than the coyote. Its
family life meets with our approval, for the male actually feeds the
female during the lying-in period, and at the risk of its own life leads
hunters away from the den and its helpless occupants. It eats almost
anything; small rodents are preferred.

People often bring back tales of an unusual animal on the trail above
Bear Lake. Usually, they have seen the MARTEN, the largest of our
remaining local weasels and an altogether interesting animal. This
creature is at home in the treetops or on the forest floor. Like all
weasels, it is a voracious feeder and a peril to its neighbors. It
successfully hunts birds and squirrels in the trees, and preys on rats,
rabbits, fish, grouse, frogs, insects, and other weasels. Its repertory
of sounds includes hisses, squalls, barks, growls, and shrieks. It
breeds in summer, but the young are not born until the following spring;
its life span is about 18 years. It is closely related to the famous
Russian sable, and has been nearly exterminated by trapping through most
of its original range.

    [Illustration: Young martens show the curiosity typical of their

The MINK is rare in the park, but is occasionally seen on Glacier Creek.
This member of the weasel family is an excellent swimmer, and catches
fish with ease. Its dense and oily fur keeps it warm in cold water, but
it lacks any other apparent adaptations to an aquatic life. So agile an
animal has few natural enemies apart from disease; its most important
predator is, oddly enough, the great horned owl. The young are born
blind and helpless, and only the size of one’s finger, but by summer’s
end they become self-sufficient.

The WEASEL is a small, sharp-eyed creature with an extremely long body,
small triangular head, and furtive ways. Weasels are successful hunters,
searching through brush piles and rock heaps and in underground burrows
for rodents of all kinds. There are two species in the park—the LONGTAIL
WEASEL and the SHORTTAIL WEASEL, or ERMINE. The latter is less than half
as large as the former. Like that of certain other mountain dwellers,
the fur of weasels becomes white as the snows of winter approach,
replacing the brown of summer.

Horseback riders crossing Moraine Park and Beaver Meadows are usually
wary of the large holes that are the work of the BADGER. Although a
creature of the plains rather than of the mountains, the badger lives in
some of the lower meadows of the park, and there have been reports of
badgers being seen near Fall River Pass. It is a meat eater, and its
large front feet have long claws, which enable it speedily to dig out a
ground squirrel.

    [Illustration: Red fox.
                                            —Drawing by Walter A. Weber.]

Gnawing Mammals

The YELLOWBELLY MARMOT, with its reddish underparts, grizzled back, and
bushy tail, is seen by nearly all park visitors. Although it is more
common in medium altitudes in the mountains, it also may be seen high
along Trail Ridge Road, and a pair, reportedly, is living atop Longs
Peak! These rodents live in dens, usually rockpiles, into which they
pack twigs and grass to make a comfortable nest. They store up a heavy
layer of fat in the summer and hibernate during the cold winter. Their
natural food consists of grasses, berries, and roots. Their short, sharp
whistle can be heard a mile away. During the summer, hikers occasionally
see rather humanlike scenes, as marmot families sun themselves on the
“front porches” of their rockpile homes.

The TASSEL-EARED, or ABERT, SQUIRREL is an excellent example of the
zonal specialization of mammals. It is almost entirely restricted to the
ponderosa pine forest belt. Its showy ear tufts, although often absent
during the summer, set it apart from other local squirrels. It feeds
mostly on ponderosa pine seeds, the bark of twigs and young trees of
this species, and such wild fruits and succulent vegetation as are
available. The Abert squirrel builds nests in the trees and is a
familiar sight to hikers in the ponderosa pine forests. It is usually
gray-colored, but may be brown or even completely black.

Another small arboreal rodent, the SPRUCE SQUIRREL, chatters and scolds
when a stranger enters its patch of forest. It roams both the lodgepole
pine and higher spruce-fir forests with their bitter winters, yet it
does not hibernate. Even after the most severe storms it will emerge to
travel through the treetop world it occupies. Some bird enthusiasts have
little regard for it, because of its habit of eating eggs and young
birds whenever the opportunity presents itself. However, in a National
Park the squirrel’s desire to live is considered to be as important as
is the bird’s. A certain “balance” of population is the result, which
is, after all, one of the desirable features in an area dedicated to
preserving natural conditions.

CHIPMUNKS are particularly familiar at Trail Ridge Road parking areas.
These small squirrels are reddish-brown above, with white underparts and
with four white stripes running along the back. A definite stripe across
the face distinguishes them from the golden-mantled ground squirrels,
with which they are often found.

The GOLDEN-MANTLED GROUND SQUIRREL is often confused with the smaller
chipmunks which it joins in begging for visitor handouts at parking
areas below treeline on Trail Ridge Road. Its natural food is succulent
plant material and seeds, but many of the gregarious little animals are
becoming more or less dependent upon food offered them by humans. You
can see them most conveniently at Many Parks Curve.

Another little rodent, common in the lower meadows, is the RICHARDSON
GROUND SQUIRREL (“picket pin”). It lives in colonies, after the fashion
of the prairie dog of the plains. It is abundant in Moraine Park.

Relatively few park visitors see the BEAVER; but all can see examples of
its work. It works at night as a rule, and usually remains out of sight
when humans are abroad. These industrious rodents are much larger than
the related chipmunks and marmots, and weigh as much as 90 pounds.
Beaver pelts were part of the lure that led to the early exploration of
the West. Almost exterminated about 50 years ago, they are now
relatively abundant in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    [Illustration: Yellowbelly marmot—seen by most visitors.]

The beaver is well adapted to its water environment. The hindlegs are
webbed for efficient swimming; the tail, broad and horizontally
flattened, helps in underwater maneuvering. However, its swimming speed
at the surface of the water is only about 2 miles per hour. Beaver can
remain submerged for over 5 minutes; this ability helps in escaping

    [Illustration: The beaver is sometimes seen by alert observers in
    late afternoon or early morning.]

Beaver dams are abundant in the park. Many typical examples can be seen
in Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, and Hidden Valley, and
along the Colorado River. Nearly all of the park trails pass beaver
workings. The dams are built of various materials in this region, but
most commonly of mud, parts of aspens, and debris. They are started from
the upstream side—usually on shallow creeks—and as the water level rises
so does the dam. The beaver uses its front paws almost as hands. The
load of mud or sticks sometimes is carried by being pressed against the
chest as the animal walks on its hind feet to the top of the structure
it is building. The dam is made to create a stabilized water level. This
is essential for protection of the beaver’s island den—a lodge made of
sticks and mud. The beaver house starts as a solid heap of debris, but
the animal chews and digs out a couple of underwater tunnels, as well as
one or more dome-shaped rooms with the floor a few inches above water
level. In this dry retreat the beaver rests, sleeps, and rears its
family. Few natural enemies can pursue it through the underwater
entrances. Its food is chiefly aspen bark and twigs. A winter supply is
stored under water during late summer.

Because of its energy, skill, and persistence, the beaver has become a
symbol of industriousness. It is also often credited with more
intelligence than it probably possesses. Its apparent industry and
resourcefulness are due more likely to inherited instincts than to
reasoning. At any rate, this large rodent is surely one of the most
interesting animals in the park.

    [Illustration: A narrow tail distinguishes the muskrat from the
    beaver, which may live in the same locality.]

The MUSKRAT is frequently active in daylight hours. It lives in the same
environment as the beaver, but in the park has a much more limited
distribution and is confined to lower elevations. It builds lodges, too;
they are much smaller than those of the beaver, and are largely composed
of mud and plant material. The lodge serves as a secondary food source
in the winter, and many muskrat houses are practically eaten away by
spring. Unlike the beaver, a strict vegetarian, the muskrat eats fish,
insects, and any birds it can catch, as well as plant food. This animal
has not acquired the ability to build dams, but does make rafts of
sticks and twigs. When seen closely, a muskrat is easily distinguished
from a beaver, for it is smaller and has a slender, vertically flattened
tail, quite unlike that of the beaver.

Probably everyone recognizes the PORCUPINE. It is a large, short-legged
rodent, rather clumsy of behavior, and usually seen either sleeping or
leisurely chewing the bark of a tree. The porcupine survives, despite
its sluggish behavior, because of the protection afforded by some 30,000
quills in its pelage. Although it cannot “throw” these quills, they are
very loosely attached, and when the tail is vigorously thrashed about it
is inevitable that some of the quills become detached and fall away. The
unlucky recipient of such a slap of the tail will be convinced that the
quills were thrown, although the effective embedding of quills is done
by direct contact.

The MOUNTAIN COTTONTAIL is often seen in the lower forests. Despite
heavy predation by many natural enemies, the cottontail manages to
maintain itself because of its high birth rate. One mother may produce a
total of 25 young in the 4 or 5 litters born during the year. It is
fairly small, grayish-brown in color, with rather short ears and a
conspicuous cottony tail resembling a powder puff. It lives in
underground burrows and retains the same color winter and summer.

The SNOWSHOE HARE nests on the surface of the ground. Its fur changes
from grayish-brown in summer to white in winter. A denizen of the
spruce-fir and lodgepole pine forests and of the tundra, it hops about
the snow on its huge, furry, “snowshoe” feet, apparently finding the
severe winters of the high country no great hardship. It is not common
in the park, and therefore is not often seen.

    [Illustration: Porcupine.]

    [Illustration: Friendly chipmunks make themselves known throughout
    the park.]

Motorists on the highest parts of the Trail Ridge Road often see the
PIKA, which looks like a small, grayish guinea pig but is really a close
relative of the rabbit. It is found in the rock slides and talus piles
in the high country mostly above treeline, and is seldom seen below
9,000 feet. Despite the subzero temperature of the tundra belt, it does
not hibernate. Its habit of storing little bundles of mountain grasses
and other alpine plants has given it the nickname of “alpine haymaker”;
it is also sometimes called “cony”—a name better reserved for an
unrelated Old World mammal. Look for the pika at Rock Cut on Trail Ridge
Road, it seems to have favorite sunning spots from which it greets the
traveler with shrill shrieks.

Coldblooded Vertebrates

Many animals do not possess an adequate mechanism for maintenance of
constant body heat. Some of these, taking advantage of the slowness with
which water changes temperature, live mostly in an aquatic environment.
Few can endure the cold winters of high altitudes.

Unlike other animals in National Parks, fish may be taken, under
regulations designed to conserve the resource. As long as you have a
State fishing license, you may exercise this privilege in Rocky Mountain
National Park. The season and catch limits vary from year to year; you
are urged to ask a park ranger about current regulations.

    [Illustration: Coyote.]

The original trout in the park is the BLACK-SPOTTED, or CUTTHROAT,
TROUT. Once found only in the northern Rockies, it has been transplanted
widely. It has numerous subspecies and color variations, but here it is
usually an olive-green on back and upper sides, shading into a yellowish
cast on lower sides. The lower surface becomes red at spawning time. The
body and fins are black-spotted. The red streak on each side of the
lower jaw has given it the name “cutthroat.” Its principal foods are
insects and small aquatic animals. Spawning takes place in midsummer in
the high country.

The BROOK TROUT, originally native east of the Mississippi, was
introduced into this park, where it has thrived and maintains itself
through natural reproduction in many lakes and streams. It is
olive-green to gray, with a sprinkling of red and gray spots on the
sides. The front borders of the lower fins and the lower borders of the
tail are white. Its food includes insects, worms, small minnows, and
crustaceans. It spawns in autumn; the female deposits the eggs in a
depression she scoops out in the streambed. After the eggs are
fertilized, she covers them with gravel and leaves them to hatch

The RAINBOW TROUT is another nonnative trout of the park waters. Its
original range was on the Pacific slope of the Sierras and the Cascades,
but it has been transplanted widely. It is bluish-olive above the
lateral line, changing to silvery-green on the sides. Its name is
derived from a broad, reddish stripe on the sides. It eats insects,
worms, and smaller fishes, and is a favorite of the angler for its
fighting ability and tendency to break water when hooked. Spawning
occurs from autumn to spring, depending on the altitude.

    [Illustration: Cutthroat trout.]

The most common amphibian in the park is the bright-green to tan LEOPARD
FROG. Restricted to damp areas near ponds or creeks, it is most likely
to be seen in spring and early summer when the gelatinous egg masses are
being laid. The tadpoles develop into mature frogs in about 3 years.
Until then, it lives on plant food; after maturity, it eats insects and
worms. It is found in Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, and other moist
grassland valleys.

The THREE-LINED TREEFROG, our smallest amphibian—about an inch long—is
often mistaken for a young leopard frog. Although it is a treefrog,
possessing disks on its toes, it is seldom seen in trees; it prefers
small ponds or swampy grassland. It is sometimes found under rockpiles
or pieces of damp wood. Despite its small size, its loud chirps in
spring and summer can be heard a half mile away. During its singing, a
vocal sac beneath the lower jaw inflates to a size larger than the
creatures head. It is easily recognized by the three stripes down its
back. Look for this diminutive amphibian at Gem Lake.

The insectivorous MOUNTAIN TOAD, a nondescript denizen of marshy lake
habitats, is common in Cub Lake Valley, Hallowell Park, and in the Ouzel
Lake area in Wild Basin. In late spring, large numbers congregate in
ponds to lay strings of eggs. The small tadpoles become adults by the
end of summer.

    [Illustration: View of Mount Ypsilon from near Bear Meadows approach
    to Trail Ridge Road.]

The TIGER SALAMANDER is one of the oddest animals of the park.
Salamanders do not walk out of fires, as medieval tradition had it, but
are amphibians. Unlike frogs and toads however, they retain their tails
after reaching maturity. They hatch from eggs in shallow ponds, breathe
by means of feathery external gills at the back of the head. Later, the
gills are absorbed and the salamander begins breathing with lungs; it
then leaves the water for a moist underground burrow, returning to ponds
in early spring to lay eggs on plants or debris in the water near the
shore. In southern latitudes, the larvae (gill-breathing forms) are able
to lay eggs; these are the _axolotls_ of Mexico. Our local variety of
the tiger salamander is about 8 inches long, gray-brown with dark spots.
It is found in Sheep Lake, around which large numbers occur during the
spawning season in June, and is often seen in suitable habitats along
Cub Lake Trail. It eats insects, insect larvae, worms, and small snails.
It is harmless to humans.

The only reptile in the park is the MOUNTAIN GARTER SNAKE, which is
found throughout the mountainous areas of Colorado. Because of its
fondness for water, it is often erroneously called a “water snake.” It
is greenish-gray and may reach a length of over 2 feet. It feeds on
frogs and worms; it is entirely harmless to man, but is capable of
giving off an offensive odor when handled. The young are born alive in
midsummer. These snakes may be seen near most of the marshy ponds or
slow-moving streams in the park. The ponds in Cub Lake Valley and in
Hallowell Park are favorite haunts of these interesting creatures.

No rattlesnakes or other poisonous reptiles have ever been found in the
park. Reports of rattlesnakes near Glen Haven mark the highest known
occurrences in this region—a fact that, while contributing to the
visitor’s peace of mind, puzzles many people. This absence, or relative
scarcity, of cold-blooded animals is probably due to the climate—long,
cold winters and chilly summer evenings. The lower amount of oxygen at
high altitudes may also be a factor. On the tundra, many pools are free
of ice for only about 6 weeks—scarcely time for frogs’ eggs to hatch and
for larvae to develop lungs before freeze-up. The cold nights, even in
midsummer, would inhibit a large snake’s movements to such a degree that
it would probably starve. Thus you can hike in the park in confidence
that you will encounter no poisonous snakes.

    [Illustration: Fishing is a popular recreation made doubly
    attractive by the mountain setting of the park waters.]


With over 226 different species listed in the most recent publication on
local birds, it is difficult to give adequate attention to the subject
in the limited space of this booklet. Park birds, like our human
population, can be classified as visitors and residents. Occasionally a
“straggler” appears, far from its usual haunts. Birds, like humans, can
be further classified by their preferences as to locale. Just as some
people prefer to visit the high peaks and tundras, so some birds prefer
these areas. A few people come here only to fish; so does the belted
kingfisher. Like most humans, many birds can be seen throughout the
park, and the greatest variety and numbers occur in summer.

A number of park birds—both resident and migratory—have specific
preferences. For instance, if a bird’s diet is mostly seeds from pine
cones, it will usually be found in pine forests. Typical park
environments and the characteristic birdlife of zones are outlined in
Appendix B. Most of the birds nest in these associations.

The lower altitudes of the park—ponderosa pine forests and grassy
meadows—have a large, varied population of birds in summer. Here lives
the STELLER’S JAY, easily recognized by its rich-blue wings, sharp
crest, and saucy manner. The BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, like Steller’s jay a
member of the crow family, has a conspicuously long tail, a
greenish-iridescent, black-and-white body, and a propensity for
scavenging small animals killed by autos. The WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER is
always associated with the ponderosa pine in which it pecks its sap
holes; and the “red-naped sapsucker”—a subspecies of the YELLOW-BELLIED
SAPSUCKER—with bright-red throat and crown, is usually seen working on
aspens. The GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE nests in the shrubs of the Montane zone
during June. RED-EYED VIREOS, characterized by gray cap and
black-bordered white stripe over the eye, are found in the forested
valleys from June into August. The PIGMY NUTHATCH, a tiny, noisy bird
with a brown head and white underparts, wanders in small, noisy flocks
through the pine forests in spring and autumn but scatters during the
nesting season. There is some migration of pigmy nuthatches to the
plains when winter comes.

The chickadees—both the MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, which remains in the park
during the winter and has a typical black cap, broken by a white line
above the eye, and the BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, which becomes scarce in
the winter—belong to the Montane zone. The VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW is an
abundant species in this zone. The MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD arrives in “waves”
during April, to leave scattered pairs to nest in holes in aspens or
other cavities. It lacks the rufous breast, but has the characteristic
azure color its name suggests. The WESTERN TANAGER, the most colorful
bird in the park, is mainly black and yellow, with a red face. It is in
the park from mid-May until August.

    [Illustration: The gray jay, or “camp robber,” which often visits
    motorists during lunch stops.]

Nesting in this general zone, in rocky cliffs and canyons, are the
GOLDEN EAGLE (seen every summer); the CANYON WREN (its characteristic
“laughing” song is often heard during May and June); and the
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (which comes in early May to nest in crannies in
the cliffs at the very east edge of the park, and leaves in June).

Some birds commonly nest in lodgepole and aspen forests, from about
8,500 feet upward. They include the WESTERN WOOD PEWEE, with a dark gray
back, dull gray underparts, and two white bars on the long wings; the
WARBLING VIREO, a migrant that arrives in a “wave” late in May; the
LINCOLN’S SPARROW, streaked, with a short tail, which spends only 2
months in the park; the RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, which appears suddenly in
late April and fills the forests with its song during June; the showy
AUDUBON’S WARBLER, with its fire-bright yellow spots and white wing
patches; and the HERMIT THRUSH, whose songs ring through the lodgepole
and spruce-fir forests and along the streams in July.

In the spruce-fir forest, nesting birds you may expect to see include
the PINE GROSBEAK, a large finch, the male of which has a rich rose-red
head and breast; and the BROWN CREEPER, named for its habit of creeping
up tree trunks. Thickets near treeline are the nesting area of the
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, a bird with strikingly black-and-white striped
crown. It is as much at home above treeline as below, usually ready to
scold all hikers who invade its territory. The WILSON’S WARBLER, with
yellow body and black cap, nests in the willows at this altitude, but
leaves the heights in August and returns in May.

Above the forests, on the wind-swept tundra, are some of the most
interesting birds of the park. Here WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGANS spend the
entire year. These alpine grouse, mottled-brown in summer, become pure
white in midwinter. They assemble in small flocks in September to spend
the winter together, but disperse during May and June for courtship and
breeding. Nesting ptarmigans have been seen close by the busy Trail
Ridge Road. Depending upon their natural camouflage for protection, they
seldom show alarm when closely approached.

Ornithologists travel far to see BROWN-CAPPED ROSY FINCHES, which breed
only on the high mountains of Colorado and probably northern New Mexico.
Nesting in cliffs above treeline in summer, they band together in autumn
to descend into the ponderosa forests for the winter. A third common
bird of the tundra is the WATER PIPIT, a small ground bird, whose
white-bordered tail is almost constantly in wagging motion. Pipits have
an interesting courtship flight, and during midsummer are seen only
above treeline, where they nest. By late August they descend to lower
altitudes, not to return until June.

Even the most casual visitor notices the GRAY JAY and its cousin,
CLARK’S NUTCRACKER. These members of the crow family are common at Bear
Lake and at Many Parks and Rainbow Curve parking areas on Trail Ridge
Road, where they compete with the chipmunks for hand-outs from
motorists. The GRAY JAY, sometimes known as the Rocky Mountain jay or
“camp robber,” has a dull-gray body, light-gray head, and short bill. It
is often seen in the company of the Clark’s nutcracker, about the same
size, but with a longer bill, light-gray body and white patches on black
wings and tail. The nutcracker tends to range both above treeline and
down into the ponderosa pine belt during summer, whereas the “camp
robber” has a more restricted distribution.

    [Illustration: The ptarmigan’s summer coat resembles lichen-covered
    boulders of the high meadows where it lives.]

The COMMON RAVEN is often observed soaring over the canyons. RED-TAILED
HAWKS are fairly common—those that nest on the cliffs southeast of the
visitor center are almost always to be seen in summer in Moraine Park.
The robin is abundant and widely distributed in the park in summer.
Flocks of robins are to be seen above treeline into October. The sleek
BOHEMIAN WAXWING passes through the park in winter and early spring.
Along the beaver ponds, in the willows, the showy REDWINGED BLACKBIRD
may be seen from May until July.

Possibly the most unusual bird of the park is the DIPPER, or “water
ouzel,”—a chunky little dark-gray bird, with a habit of bobbing up and
down constantly, which is seen only near rushing mountain streams or
waterfalls. It hops into rushing water and even walks submerged on the
stream bottom in search of aquatic insects—a method of food-gathering
that appears suicidal but actually does the dipper no harm. The mossy,
dome-shaped nest is usually built where spray can keep it moist. Look
for these amazing creatures at Chasm Falls, at The Pool, along Mill
Creek and Glacier Creek, or in the cascades in Wild Basin.

It is hoped that this brief treatment of the birds will arouse your
interest in these important members of the park’s wildlife population.

Park-naturalist-conducted bird hikes are scheduled during the summer,
and bird books are on sale at Moraine Park Visitor Center. Birds are an
important element in the enjoyment of the park; take advantage of the
opportunity to become acquainted with them.

    [Illustration: Clark’s nutcracker, familiar at parking areas, is
    often confused with the “camp robber,” or gray jay.]

                           MAN IN THE ROCKIES

At least a thousand years ago many Indians passed through the park
region. Evidences of their presence are few but conclusive. Arrow
points, hand hammers, and even crude pottery fragments have been
collected, and some are on display in the Moraine Park Visitor Center.
In the past 200 years or so, the park was the haunt of the Utes (whose
main territory was west of the Continental Divide) and, latterly, of the
Arapahoes who ranged the plains east of the park. Many old Indian trails
have been logged in the park; Trail Ridge was named for its Indian

After the United States acquired the region through the Louisiana
Purchase, a number of explorers and adventurers passed near the park in
their travels: Stephen Long in 1820, William Ashley in 1825, Richard
Dodge in 1835, Eliza Farnham in 1839, Frederick Wislizenus in 1839,
Rufus Sage in 1840, John C. Fremont in 1843 and 1844, Francis Parkman in
1846, and Frederick Ruxton in 1847. From his narrative, there is reason
to think that Sage might have been in Wild Basin; if so, this would mean
that he was the first explorer to set foot in what is now Rocky Mountain
National Park.

    [Illustration: Both Ute and Arapaho Indians hunted in these

On October 15, 1859, Joel Estes and his son topped Park Hill and saw
what is now Estes Park. The next year, Estes settled his family in the
grassy meadow—a “park” in Colorado terminology. It soon became known as
Estes Park, a name in use to this day. By 1867, the Estes family claim
was acquired by Griff Evans, who later transferred his rights to a
British nobleman, the Earl of Dunraven.

Dunraven’s influence on the region was, perhaps, more beneficial than
his antagonists would have admitted. Many enterprises that would have
seriously marred the matchless landscape were kept out of his feudal
regime, saving (although quite accidentally) many beauty spots for later
generations. He also did much to publicize the region; one of his guests
was the artist Albert Bierstadt.

During the 1880’s a mining boom occurred in what is now the west side of
the park, leading to the establishment of Lulu City, Dutchtown, and
Teller. Grand Lake had already been discovered, and a small but rather
exciting community grew up on its shore, serving the needs of the new
mining camps. You can see the crumbling cabins of Lulu City by taking a
3-mile hike up the Colorado River valley.

By 1910, many people began thinking of a National Park here, as that new
invention, the automobile, was finally proving practicable as a means of
travel. Although there were many supporters of the National Park idea
throughout the land, one man—Enos Mills, naturalist, philosopher,
writer—is credited with carrying the idea to a tangible result. He was
rewarded for his years of hard work and innumerable frustrations when he
participated in the dedication ceremonies for Rocky Mountain National
Park on September 4, 1915.

    [Illustration: Tassel-eared squirrel.]


The climate of any part of the world is due to many forces—but basically
to the amount of energy received from the sun. In mountainous areas,
such as Rocky Mountain National Park, the climate is made more variable
by the different altitudes, slopes, and exposure to solar radiation.
Like all midlatitude regions, too, the park experiences invasions of
different air masses with their varying qualities and the storms
associated with their fronts.

Few frontal storms are experienced in summer. Most of the frequent
thunderstorms are produced by the elevation and cooling warm air from
the Gulf of Mexico as it streams into the mountains from the southeast.
This season provides the great cumulus clouds that delight the
photographer. During autumn, winter, and early spring the weather is
determined by alternate invasions of cold Canadian air and cool Pacific
air. The latter brings much snow to the western side of the park, but
usually results in favorable weather on the eastern slope; the warm
chinook winds are associated with these conditions. The Canadian
air—usually heralded by blizzards on the plains below the
mountains—brings snow and below-zero temperatures to the east slope. The
winter weather at the village of Estes Park is often milder than in most
of the plains country to the east, because of the protection afforded by
the mountains from the full forces of these air movements.

In general, the weather is ideal for summer vacations, with cool, clear
nights and sunny days. The frequent afternoon showers are mere
refreshing interludes in an otherwise delightful season. The winter
weather, although often rigorous, is relatively mild for the region’s
altitude, and, although the high Trail Ridge Road is snow-blocked,
scarcely ever is it a problem to drive from Estes Park village to Denver
or other plains communities.

It is always cool at night, even in midsummer, so bring warm clothes;
western garb is always socially acceptable. The region is noted for its
friendly informality. For hiking on trails and camping, old field
clothes are desirable, and stout, comfortable shoes are a necessity. A
slicker is important, since afternoon showers may be expected.

                              PARK SEASON

Although the park is officially open to travel all year, summer—June
through September—is the “regular” season. From October until May,
high-altitude roads are blocked by snow, as are most park trails in
winter. All but one of the visitor centers are closed, and naturalist
hikes and other activities are not scheduled after September 15. Camping
is difficult from September to May because of adverse weather and
limited facilities. However, the roads to both Estes Park and Grand Lake
are usually open throughout winter, and accommodations are available in
both gateway towns during the off-season.

                               WHAT TO DO

For most visitors, the park’s scenic splendors are the chief attraction.
There is a choice of several auto drives; and miles of trails beckon
those who prefer hiking or horseback riding. A few of the principal
automobile and trail trips are described below.

The park ranger-naturalist activities are popular; so is fishing, a park
sport for which a State license is required. All activities within the
National Park are keyed to the natural scene.

The principal winter-use area in Rocky Mountain National Park is at
Hidden Valley along Trail Ridge Road, 10 miles west of Estes Park.
Skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and platter sliding are popular here.
The area is designed for family winter use, not as a typical ski resort.
There are down-mountain ski runs and several practice areas so that
either the expert or the novice skier will find slopes to his liking.
Ski tows service popular slopes. A lodge and a warming shelter are
provided at two popular locations within the area for the use of winter
sports enthusiasts. Rental equipment, food service, lounge, and other
facilities are available at the visitor center. Cross-country skiing may
be enjoyed by the experienced skier at numerous locations on the eastern
side of Rocky Mountain National Park and on the western slope in the
vicinity of Grand Lake.

Here are a few photo hints: the light is intense at high altitudes; many
shots are made at half the exposure needed nearer sea level. Mornings
are best for pictures; afternoons are often cloudy. Use side-light for
depth, and break up the foreground on long shots. Color film will not
register accurately the intense light of the sky and the dark green of
the forest on the same exposure. Film, filters, and other supplies are
available at the gateway towns. Color slides are sold at Moraine Park
Visitor Center and nearby curio shops.

Automobile Trips

Mountain driving is different from ordinary automobile travel, and
presents special problems. In most of the park a speed limit of 35 miles
per hour is enforced (20 m.p.h. on curves). This permits leisurely
sightseeing; but do not stop on the road. Stop in a parking area and
walk back to a scenic spot, if necessary. Vapor lock, which often stalls
cars, is caused, in part, by driving the car up steep grades in high
gear; use lower gears and keep the motor cooler. Most cars stalled by
vapor lock will start after cooling off for about 10 minutes. Keep your
car in gear and use lower gears, if possible, on down grades, too; do
not use overdrive. Drive carefully and courteously. Gateway towns have
the usual auto services.

_Trail Ridge Road._ The 50-mile drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake
across the Front Range in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of
America’s most magnificent auto trips. Trail Ridge Road, a modern,
hard-surfaced road, is usually open from late May to mid-October. For
sheer scenic beauty, for easy access to the fantasies of treeline and
tundra, and for a variety of natural landscapes within a few miles,
Trail Ridge Road has few equals anywhere in the world.

Trail Ridge proper is a massive ridge extending easterly from the
Continental Divide. In the early days an Indian trail crossed the
mountains via this ridge—hence the name. The present road was built by
the National Park Service in the early 1930’s on a route chosen for
maximum scenic possibilities and minimum snow-clearance problems.

    [Illustration: Trail Ridge Road, altitude more than 12,000 feet,
    experiences winter most of the year. It is open to motor travel in
    summer only.]

    [Illustration: Park naturalists conduct field trips during the
    summer season.]

    [Illustration: From Rainbow Curve, an extensive view to the east
    affords glimpses of the lower levels of Trail Ridge Road.]

The lofty peaks of the Colorado Rockies have been sculptured by glaciers
into a bewildering network of rocky ridges, sheer cliffs, needlelike
crags, and great cirques. Until roads were built, much of this
breathtaking scenery was accessible only to hardy mountain climbers. Now
all can see choice samples of high country from a car.

Although every mile of this road affords scenes of great interest and
rare beauty, several points deserve special attention: Many Parks Curve
permits close observation of the chipmunk, golden-mantled ground
squirrel, and Clark’s nutcracker, and excellent views of the meadows. To
the north is Fall River Valley, and beyond, the towering peaks of the
Mummy Range. This valley was the melting basin of a great glacier. The
fine view to the south includes Longs Peak (14,256 feet), looming over
the green flats of Beaver Meadows and Moraine Park. Several
moraines—long, generally parallel ridges of broken rocks built up at the
edges of glaciers and now heavily forested—stretch out before you,
separating one park from the other.

Above Many Parks Curve, the road climbs along the north side of Trail
Ridge, loops about the head of upper Hidden Valley (where skiing is in
vogue during the winter), passes the 2-mile elevation sign, and reaches
another parking area at Rainbow Curve, about 8 miles from Deer Ridge,
and one-half mile higher in altitude. The view from Rainbow Curve is
vast, open, and superb, with the Great Plains visible far to the east
and forested canyons or glacial meadows nearer at hand. Many interesting
geological features are pointed out on the roadside exhibit panels at
this point.

Leaving Rainbow Curve, the road follows the rim of another deep canyon,
passing through a ghost forest, scene of a devastating fire in the
1870’s. Grotesquely formed treeline trees reflect the harsh climate at
this high altitude. As the Rock Cabins are passed, a superlative view
opens up to the south across Forest Canyon. For several miles the road
traverses the Alpine zone tundra, carpeted during July by low-growing,
colorful flowers.

Glaciated mountains south of Trail Ridge Road can be seen to best
advantage from Rock Cut (altitude 12,110). Gorge Lakes, Forest Canyon,
and other landscape features are indicated in roadside exhibits. If time
permits, a short hike can be made over a nature trail to the nearby
Roger W. Toll Memorial Peakfinder. A walk along this trail provides a
rare opportunity to become acquainted with the tundra; however, the high
altitude affects some people adversely, so it may not be advisable for
persons with heart ailments to attempt the trip.

    [Illustration: Winter snows lie deep at higher elevations of the

Iceberg Lake, which occupies a glacial cirque, was named from the
presence of blocks of ice that remain on its surface even in late
summer, except in extremely warm and dry years. The reddish cliffs at
this point are made up of relatively recent lava, which is not common in
the park. The highest point (12,183 feet, marked by a sign) is between
Iceberg Lake and Fall River Pass. The pass is a popular stopping place,
with restrooms, alpine exhibit room, and lunch counter.

Below Fall River Pass the road continues downhill all the way to Grand
Lake. The Continental Divide is crossed at Milner Pass at an altitude of
10,758 feet, in the midst of a typical spruce-fir forest. As Far View
Curve is approached, the valley of the Colorado River comes into view,
and the rugged Never Summer Range looms up to the west. The road
descends from this point in sharp switchback curves to reach the wide
floor of the Colorado Valley. From here to Grand Lake, the route follows
the valley. Deer and elk are often seen in this vicinity. The lake
itself, over 250 feet deep, is one of Colorado’s scenic gems. The town
of Grand Lake, outside the park, is a friendly western town with the
usual resort accommodations.

_Bear Lake Road._ This is a short spur road, leaving from Beaver Meadows
Entrance on one of the eastern approaches to Trail Ridge through Moraine
Park and Glacier Basin to Bear Lake, nestled at the foot of the high
mountains. Everyone should make this trip, if time permits—an extra hour
or so will do it. The road traverses glaciated meadows and moraines; it
affords splendid views of Longs Peak. Great stands of aspen on Bierstadt
Ridge make this a colorful drive in autumn. Bear Lake, at the end of the
road—the only high lake in the park accessible by auto—is a foreground
for the view up Tyndall Gorge, with the sheer cliff of Hallett Peak
making a dramatic backdrop to the alpine scene. A half-mile trail
encircles the lake, giving different scenic effects with every step, and
nature-trail labels aid in enjoyment of the rocks, wildflowers, and
trees. A short hike—a mile or so—from Bear Lake to Dream Lake gives you
an opportunity to escape auto traffic and see some of the park, without
undertaking too arduous a climb.

Trail Trips

You are urged to take at least one trail trip, for only on the trails
can you experience the real essence of the mountains. Everyone has his
favorite trail; you can make your own selection. The first decision is
whether to hike or ride a horse—or to try both methods. In any case,
leave your car behind for at least 1 day of your visit.

    [Illustration: Although Grand Lake is outside the park, an excellent
    view of it can be obtained from within the park.]

Certain rules covering trails should be observed:

  _To avoid getting lost stay on designated trails. Repeated short cuts
  damage the trails, necessitating repairs._

  _If you are hiking, yield right-of-way to horses by standing quietly
  off the trail as the riders pass._

  _Deposit trash in receptacles; keep trails free of litter._

  _If you plan to cook out, obtain a fire permit from a park ranger.
  This is a fire-protection regulation._

  _Leave dogs behind. Their presence on trails disturbs wildlife._

With some 200 miles of trails in the park, beginning at a dozen
different points and ending at scores of destinations, you may have
difficulty planning your trail trips before you arrive. Information on
the various trail trips is best obtained after you get to the park. The
park rangers, the museum attendants, the naturalists, and the
saddle-horse operators can help you outline trips.

    [Illustration: A short hike from Bear Lake takes you to Dream Lake,
    with its matchless view up Tyndall Gorge.]

A brief description of a few of the popular trips follows:

                        _Trails from Bear Lake._

One of the trail hubs of the park is Bear Lake. A “must” is the 1-mile
hike to Dream Lake, near the foot of Hallett Peak. From Dream Lake you
can take a primitive trail another mile to Emerald Lake in Tyndall Gorge
or a developed trail to Lake Haiyaha in Chaos Canyon. Each trip is an
excellent half-day hike. You may want to go along the big moraine to
Bierstadt Lake, or to the top of Flattop Mountain from Bear Lake—a long,
uphill climb, with a reward of marvelous views. The splendid all-day
hike to Odessa and Fern Lakes begins here, too. This can be a loop trip,
via Cub Lake, returning to Bear Lake; or, if you can arrange to be met
in Moraine Park, an excellent 9-mile “through” hike with a minimum of
uphill walking is possible.

                        _Glacier Gorge Trails._

A mile below Bear Lake is a parking area from which trails lead in
several directions. Two short hikes—about 4 hours each—are possible from
here to Lake Mills in Glacier Gorge (at the foot of Longs Peak) and to
The Loch, a lovely mountain lake. From these lakes, dim “fishermen’s”
tracks lead on to higher and more remote lakes. From The Loch a
primitive path leads to Andrews Glacier. These latter tracks are not
really trails and, although easily followed, usually require some local
specific information. There is also a seldom-used, constructed trail
from Glacier Gorge parking area up to Boulderfield near the top of Longs
Peak. This makes a good horseback trip but is not popular with hikers
because the destination is so much more easily reached by the shorter
trail from Longs Peak Campground. A spur from this trail leads, via
Storm Pass, to Tahosa Valley.

    [Illustration: Only by trail can you reach such high-country lakes
    as this.]

                           _Fern Lake Trail._

At the end of the Moraine Park Road is a picnic area. A trail begins
here which follows Big Thompson River, past beaver dams and The Pool, to
Fern Falls and Fern Lake. From Fern Lake the trail continues to Odessa
Lake and on to Bear Lake. Many people leave Bear Lake, reaching Moraine
Park by this trail. The trip is about 9 miles; 6 hours gives ample time
for a leisurely pace.

                          _Wild Basin Trails._

Many persons consider Wild Basin the finest wilderness area in the park.
Trails begin here at the road’s end and lead up the branches of North
St. Vrain Creek to many beautiful lakes. One popular hike (about 4
hours) is to Ouzel Falls, via Calypso Cascades, and return. Most of the
other trips in Wild Basin are longer and make more suitable all-day
hikes. Thunder Lake is one of these spots. Ouzel and Bluebird Lakes make
another 1-day trip combination. There is no trail across the range here,
but some fine, back-country hiking possibilities exist for the sturdy,
seasoned hiker.

                        _Western Slope Trails._

Many people hike or ride horseback from Bear Lake over Flattop Mountain
to Grand Lake via either Big Meadows or North Inlet. This takes all day
as compared with 2 or 3 hours by road. However, the trail trip is
through much splendid scenic country which is not seen by the highway
traveler between these two points. Hikes in the Grand Lake vicinity
include one to Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout, with matchless panoramic
views, and the interesting “trail to nowhere,” up Columbine Creek. The
trail distances to major points of interest on the west slope are longer
than on the east side of the park, and many people prefer to use horses.
By riding, trips to Lake Verna in East Inlet and Lakes Nokoni and Nanita
in North Inlet can be made in 1 day. A number of spectacular horseback
trips in Never Summer Range are possible. Saddle-horse operators can
help you plan such trips in this vicinity.

                  _Trails in the Estes Park Vicinity._

Several interesting trail trips near Estes Park village and in the lower
altitudes of the park are available. These are especially pleasant early
or late in the season when many of the higher trails are snow-blocked.
Gem Lake is reached by a 2-mile trail (3 hours or so) which begins about
1 mile from town on the Devils Gulch Road. This trip presents
interesting rock formations and fine panoramic views. Twin Sisters is a
high, isolated mountain south of Estes Park, reached by a trail
beginning on State Route 7. A good hike for about 7 hours takes one to
the top of this mountain and back in a leisurely manner. The view of the
plains from Twin Sisters is extensive, and treeline flowers add color to
the trip. There are several other hiking trails in this area.

                    _Trails near Trail Ridge Road._

At Deer Ridge, a trail leads to the commanding summit of Deer Mountain,
which is a fine, early-season hike although dry in midsummer. On the
tundra, a trail leads from Rock Cut on the road to the Memorial
Peakfinder. A trail also leads from Iceberg Lake to Fall River Pass. At
Milner Pass a trail leaves the highway, passes through an especially
beautiful forest, and reaches the top of Specimen Mountain. This hike
affords matchless scenic views, particularly of the Never Summer Range,
fine displays of wildflowers, and possible glimpses of bighorn. Near the
spot where Trail Ridge Road begins the ascent of the western slope, a
trail leads up the Colorado River to the ghost town of Lulu City, and
branches continue to Poudre Pass, Thunder Pass, and beyond.

Many of these trails—and others—can be covered by visitors on summer
trips with the park ranger-naturalists. These escorted hikes help you to
get your bearings in the park, as well as understand the natural
features encountered along the route. If you are interested in hiking,
you should join a few of these naturalist trips. In this way, you
quickly realize the possibilities for your unescorted hikes, if you
prefer to travel on your own. The park ranger-naturalists will help you
plan other hikes and will do all they can to make your trail trips safe,
interesting, and enjoyable.

This outline of trail-trip possibilities is only a beginning. There are
also trips to Lawn Lake, Tyndall Glacier, Windy Gulch, the North Fork of
the Thompson River, and Chasm Lake. Information on the far more
difficult mountaintop trips is not included here. If you expect to
ascend such mountains as Longs Peak or McHenry’s Peak, be sure to
consult the park ranger at the nearest ranger station or go to the chief
ranger’s office in Estes Park village. Routes to be followed may vary
from week to week because of changes in snow conditions; ask park
rangers for up-to-date information. Remember to get a fire permit if you
plan to camp out on the trail.

                           SUGGESTED READINGS

This booklet may help your understanding and appreciation of Rocky
Mountain National Park, but in its limited pages only a superficial
treatment can be given. The following publications—nearly all of them
available for reference or purchase at the park museum information
office or Fall River Pass exhibit room—have been found helpful sources
of more detailed interpretation of the story of this park.


  Niedrach, Robert J., and Robert B. Rockwell, _Birds of Denver and
          Mountain Parks_. Denver Museum of Natural History, 1959.
  Peterson, Roger Tory, _Field Guide to Western Birds_. Houghton Mifflin
          Co., Boston, 1941.


  Clements, Edith S., _Flowers of Mountain and Plain_. H. W. Wilson Co.,
          New York, 1926 (3d edition).
  More, Robert W., _Colorado Evergreens_. Denver Museum of Natural
          History, 1949.
    Guide to the conifers, with photographic illustrations.
  Nelson, Ruth Ashton, _Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park_.
          Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1953.
    The basic reference on the wildflowers of the region.
  Pesman, M. Walter, _Meet the Natives_. Cooperative Printing Co.,
          Denver, rev. ed., 1960.
    A guide to the flora of the region, with a color-key arrangement;
          useful anywhere in Colorado.
  Preston, Richard, _North American Trees_. Iowa State College Press,
          Ames, Iowa, 1948.
    An illustrated guide to all species of trees of North America.
  Roberts, Harold and Rhoda, _Common Wildflowers of Colorado_. Museum
          Pictorial No. 8, Denver Museum of Natural History, 1959.
  Roberts, Rhoda, and Ruth Nelson, _Mountain Wildflowers of Colorado_.
          Museum Pictorial No. 13, Denver Museum of Natural History,
    Fifty common mountain wildflowers described and illustrated.


  Beckman, William C., _Guide to the Fishes of Colorado_. Leaflet No.
          11, Univ. of Colorado Museum, Boulder, 1952.


  Pearl, Richard M., _Nature as a Sculptor_. Denver Museum of Natural
          History, 1956.
    A geological interpretation of western scenery, chiefly Colorado.
  Rocky Mountain Nature Association, _Glaciers of Rocky Mountain
          National Park_. Published in cooperation with National Park
          Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1959.
    Glacier story of Rocky Mountain National Park, past and present.
  U.S. Geological Survey, _Denver Mountain Area Map_. 1955.
    Covers most of Colorado’s Front Range and explains its geology.
  Wegemann, Carroll, _A Guide to the Geology of Rocky Mountain National
          Park_. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1955.
    Helpful road logs and the general geologic story of the park.


  Burt, W. H., and R. P. Grossenheider, _Field Guide to the Mammals_.
          Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1956.
    A manual for the identification of all mammals north of Mexico.
  Rodeck, Hugo G., _Guide to the Mammals of Colorado_. University of
          Colorado, Boulder.

                     _Mountain Climbing and Hiking_

  Henderson, Kenneth, _Handbook of American Mountaineering_. Houghton
          Mifflin Co., Boston, 1942.
    A pocket-size book, almost encyclopedic in scope, giving detailed
          information on mountain climbing and life on the trail.
  Nesbit, Paul, _Longs Peak, Its Story and a Climbing Guide_. Published
          by Paul W. Nesbit, Colorado Springs, Colo., 1959.
  Ormes, Robert M., _Guide to the Colorado Mountains_. Sage Books,
          Denver, 3d revised edition, 1955.

                           _Parks in General_

  Butcher, Devereux, _Exploring Our National Parks and Monuments_.
          Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 4th edition, 1954.
    In cloth or paper covers; illustrated; gives succinct information on
          all our parks with natural-history backgrounds.
  Shankland, Robert, _Steve Mather of the National Parks_. Alfred A.
          Knopf, New York, 1955.
    The evolution of the National Park System and the life of the first
          director of the National Park Service.
  Story, Isabelle, _National Park Story in Pictures_. Government
          Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1957.
  Tilden, Freeman, _The National Parks: What They Mean to You and Me_.
          Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1955.
    Factual material on the parks, their significance, origins, and


                            _Hoofed Mammals_

_Bighorn_ (mountain sheep)—Best seen on Sheep Rock south of Poudre Lake;
      also at Sheep Lake, Shipler and Specimen Mountains, Hallett’s
      Peak, Mount Alice, Never Summer Range, Mount Ida.

_Deer, Mule_—Occasional in open pine country, especially early and late
      in the day. Hillside above Tuxedo Park, Moraine Park, Deer
      Mountain, Trail Ridge, and Kawuneeche Valley.

_Elk, American_—At treeline on Trail Ridge, Upper Poudre Valley, and
      near Lawn Lake in summer; occasionally in Hallowell and Horseshoe
      Parks during bad weather. Large herds in lower meadows from
      October to April.

                          _Predatory Mammals_

_Badger_—Occasional in Moraine Park and other open meadow areas.

_Bear, black_—Uncommon; infrequently observed along roads and trails and
      in wooded areas throughout the park.

_Bobcat_—Common, but in ravine country, especially at lower elevations.

_Cougar_ (mountain lion)—Uncommon; occasionally seen above Loch Vale,
      Horseshoe Park, upper Fall River Valley; typical habitat around
      Gem Lake.

_Coyote_—Common, especially in Hallowell Park, lower Cub Lake Valley,
      Moraine Park, lower Beaver Meadows; signs on Deer and Specimen

_Fox, red_—Fairly common at or above treeline, along the Colorado River,
      and in the Kawuneeche Valley.

_Marten_—Occasional at Bear Lake, Haiyaha, Fern-Odessa Trail, Lulu City;
      usually in spruce-fir forest.

_Mink_—Occasional along higher streams and lakes like Haiyaha.

_Weasel, longtail_—Occasionally seen above treeline on Trail Ridge at
      Rock Cabins and Rock Cut; and at woodpiles in lower meadows.

                           _Gnawing Mammals_

_Beaver_—Workings along Glacier Creek in Glacier Basin, in Hallowell
      Park, Moraine Park, Lower Hidden Valley, Grand Lake Valley. Seen
      early or late in the day.

_Chipmunks_ (Colorado and Least)—Common everywhere, especially on Trail
      Ridge and on Gem Lake Trail.

_Cottontail_—Only at lower elevations. Fairly common in Hallowell Park,
      Moraine Park, and Beaver Meadows.

_Hare, snowshoe_—Occasional in spruce-fir forests and down to about
      8,500 feet. Common around Phantom Valley Ranch.

_Jackrabbit, whitetail_—Uncommon; above treeline on Trail Ridge.

_Marmot, yellowbelly_—Common everywhere in rocky country, especially on
      lower Cub Lake Trail.

_Mouse, deer_—Common everywhere at night; often seen running across road
      or heard in cabins and tents.

_Mouse, western jumping_—Uncommon; in dense vegetation along streams.

_Muskrat_—Often seen at twilight in Sheep Lake and nearby ponds; also in
      old beaver ponds along lower Cub Lake Trail.

_Pika_—Fairly common in rockpiles above 9,500 feet, as at Rock Cut on
      Trail Ridge, along trail on Flattop, above Bear Lake Lodge, and at
      Longs Peak Boulder Field.

_Pocket gopher, northern_—Piled diggings evident in most grassland,
      especially in high country.

_Porcupine_—Common in ponderosa and lodgepole forests; often encountered
      on Bear Lake and Grand Lake Highways at night. Dens in rocks.

_Squirrel, golden-mantled ground_—Common everywhere in rocky country,
      especially on Trail Ridge, at Bear Lake, and along lower Cub Lake

_Squirrel, Richardson ground_—Common everywhere in grassland at middle
      elevations, especially Moraine Park and Estes parkland.

_Squirrel, spruce_—Fairly common in spruce-fir forest, especially around
      Bierstadt Lake, Cub Lake, Brinwood to Pool, upper Hidden Valley,
      Wild Basin, and lower Lawn Lake Trail.

_Squirrel, tassel-eared_—Occasional in ponderosa pines at Sheep Lake,
      Tuxedo Park, and Gem Lake Trail.

    [Illustration: Cougar.]


          (_Courtesy, Dr. R. G. Beidleman, Colorado College_)

             SPECIES                     AREAS (see key below)
                                 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10

  Blackbird, Brewer’s            X
  Blackbird, red-winged                              X       X
  Bluebird, mountain             X       X   X   X
  Chickadee, mountain                X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Chickadee, black-capped            X   X   X   X   X   X
  Creeper, brown                                 X   X   X
  Dipper, or water ouzel                                     X       X
  Eagle, golden                      X   X
  Finch, brown-capped rosy                                           X
  Finch, Cassin’s                X           X
  Finch, house                   X
  Flicker, red-shafted           X           X   X   X   X   X
  Flycatcher, olive-sided                        X   X
  Flycatcher, western                                    X
  Goshawk                                        X   X   X
  Grosbeak, black-headed         X
  Grosbeak, pine                                                 X
  Grouse, blue                                           X       X
  Hawk, red-tailed               X   X       X   X
  Hummingbird, broad-tailed      X   X       X   X   X   X   X   X
  Jay, gray                                          X           X
  Jay, Steller’s                     X       X   X   X   X
  Junco, gray-headed                 X       X   X   X       X   X
  Kingfisher, belted             X                           X
  Kinglet, golden-crowned                                X       X
  Kinglet, ruby-crowned              X           X   X   X   X   X
  Lark, horned                                                       X
  Magpie, black-billed                           X   X   X   X
  Mallard                                        X   X       X
  Nutcracker, Clark’s            X   X       X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Nuthatch, pigmy                X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Nuthatch, white-breasted           X       X       X   X   X
  Pewee, western wood            X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Pigeon, band-tailed                                X       X   X
  Pipit, water                                                       X
  Ptarmigan, white-tailed                                            X
  Raven, common                                                  X   X
  Robin                          X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Sandpiper, spotted                                 X   X   X
  Sapsucker, yellow-bellied      X           X   X   X   X   X
  Sapsucker, Williamson’s                    X   X   X   X   X
  Siskin, pine                   X   X       X   X   X   X   X   X
  Solitaire, Townsend’s              X           X   X   X       X
  Sparrow, chipping                      X   X   X
  Sparrow, Lincoln’s                         X   X   X
  Sparrow, song                  X           X   X   X
  Sparrow, vesper                        X
  Sparrow, white-crowned                                         X   X
  Starling                       X
  Swallow, tree                                  X
  Swallow, violet-green          X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Swift, white-throated          X   X   X       X       X
  Tanager, western                   X       X   X   X   X   X
  Thrush, hermit                     X               X           X
  Towhee, green-tailed               X       X   X   X   X   X
  Vireo, red-eyed                X   X   X   X       X   X
  Vireo, warbling                X   X           X   X   X   X
  Warbler, Audubon’s                 X   X   X   X   X   X   X   X
  Warbler, Macgillivray’s                            X   X
  Warbler, Wilson’s                                  X       X   X   X
  Warbler, yellow                X
  Wren, canyon                       X   X
  Wren, house                        X           X   X   X   X

  1—Estes Park village area.
  2—Gem Lake-Lumpy Ridge area.
  3—Devil’s Gulch-North Fork area.
  4—Tuxedo Park-YMCA area.
  5—Mill Creek Valley.
  6—Cub Lake Valley.
  7—Fern Lake Trail to The Pool.
  8—Sheep Lake and Horseshoe Park.
  9—Bear Lake district.
  10—Trail Ridge above treeline.


This list of common names and their scientific (Latin) equivalents
includes only those plants that are mentioned in the text. With minor
exceptions, authority for the scientific names of all plants and for the
common names of all plants except trees is the second edition (1942) of
_Standardized Plant Names_, edited by Harlan P. Kelsey and William A.
Dayton. Authority for common names of trees is _Check List of Native and
Naturalized Trees of the United States (Including Alaska)_, by Elbert L.
Little, Jr. (U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook No. 41, published
in 1953.)

Trees and Shrubs

  Alder, thinleaf—_Alnus tenuifolia_
  Aspen, quaking—_Populus tremuloides_
  Birch, water—_Betula occidentalis_
  Bitterbrush, antelope—_Purshia tridentata_
  Cottonwood, narrowleaf—_Populus angustifolia_
  Currant, wax—_Ribes cereum_
  Douglas-fir—_Pseudotsuga menziesii_
  Fir, subalpine—_Abies lasiocarpa_
  Honeysuckle, bearberry—_Lonicera involucrata_
  Juniper, Rocky Mountain—_Juniperus scopuloram_
  Maple, Rocky Mountain—_Acer glabrum glabrum_
  Mountain-ash, Greenes—_Sorbus scopulina_
  Pine, limber—_Pinus flexilis_
  Pine, lodgepole—_Pinus contorta_
  Pine, ponderosa—_Pinus ponderosa_
  Raspberry, American red—_Rubus idaeus strigosus_
  Raspberry, boulder—_Rubus deliciosus_
  Sagebrush, big—_Artemisia tridentata_
  Spruce, blue—_Picea pungens_
  Spruce, Engelmann—_Picea engelmannii_
  Willow, Scouler—_Salix scouleriana_


  Actinea, graylocks—_Actinea grandiflora_
  Arnica, heartleaf—_Arnica cordifolia_
  Bistort, American—_Polygonum bistortoides_
  Black-eyed susan—_Rudbeckia hirta_
  Buttercup, alpine—_Ranunculus adoneus_
  Calypso—_Calypso bulbosa_
  Columbine, Colorado—_Aquilegia coerulea_
  Coralroot, spotted—_Corallorhiza maculata_
  Crazyweed, Lambert—_Ozytropis lamberti_
  Dryad, Mt. Washington—_Dryas octopetala_
  Erysimum, plains—_Erysimum asperum_
  Fireweed—_Epilobium angustifolium_
  Forget-me-not, alpine—_Eritrichum argenteum_
  Gaillardia, common perennial—_Gaillardia aristata_
  Geranium, Fremont—_Geranium fremonti_
  Globe-flower, white—_Trollius albiflorus_
  Iris, Rocky Mountain—_Iris missouriensis_
  Jamesia, cliff—_Jamesia americana_
  Kings crown—_Sedum integrifolium_
  Marsh-marigold, elkslip—_Caltha leptosepala_
  Miner’s candle—_Cryptantha virgata_
  Monkshood, Columbia—_Aconitum columbianum_
  Pasqueflower, American—_Anemone ludoviciana_
  Penstemon, oneside—_Penstemon unilateralis_
  Phlox, tufted—_Phlox caespitosa_
  Primrose, Parry—_Primula parryi_
  Pyrola—_Pyrola_ spp.
  Silene, moss—_Silene acaulis_
  Starlily, common—_Leucocrinum montanum_
  Thermopsis, spreading—_Thermopsis divaricata_
  Townsendia, stemless—_Townsendia exscapa_
  Twinflower, American—_Linnaea borealis americana_


    [Illustration: Map key.]


    [Illustration: Hikers.]

    [Illustration: Landscape.]

    [Illustration: Landscape.]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—This etext based on a U.S. government publication is public domain in
  the United States.

—Corrected a few palpable typos.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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