At first glance, Hidden Valley Trailhead inside Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t seem like much. Two lonely structures sit near a small parking lot, surrounded by stunning scenery: white, yellow and purple wildflowers dot a lush, green opening inside a lodgepole pine forest.
What you can’t see is the complicated past of this area. On winter days between the 1950s and 1990s, the mouth of this valley used to hold a ski lodge, ski school and a 500-car parking lot. Hills were dotted with skiers, connected by ski lifts and rope tows.
Visits to national parks were down across the U.S. by about 9.1 million in 2013 – a decline of 3.2 percent, according to a new National Parks Service report on park attendance that year. In Northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park saw an even greater decline, with visits down by 7.4 percent.
Trail Ridge Road is now open on a tentative basis depending on weather.
Credit Kent Kanouse / Flickr - Creative Commons
For those of you wishing to venture into the mountains this 2014 Memorial Day weekend you’re in luck. Many mountain roads closed for the winter are now reopening. Some roads remain closed for the foreseeable future and others are temporarily open during daytime hours. Here's a complete list on the current status of the main mountain roads for Colorado’s Northern and Central Mountains.
The 2013 government shutdown resulted in nearly 8 million fewer visitors to national parks across the U.S. A new National Park Service report [.pdf] says that cost the parks and surrounding communities roughly $414 million nationwide.