Rocky Mountain National Park

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Five years ago flood waters caused immense damage along Colorado’s northern Front Range and foothills, killing nine people, upending the lives of thousands of others. And just as the raging water left a lasting imprint in the minds of those who lived through it, it did the same to the land itself.

During four days of rain, and weeks of receding, rivers altered course, reservoirs filled with sediment, and soil slipped down hillslopes, ending up as sand bars and log jams downstream. The change was so abrupt and sudden maps had to be redrawn.

IPS / Xanterra Travel

The Trail Ridge Store in Rocky Mountain National Park is now a little greener. As of July, the high-elevation gift shop is fully powered by a new solar array.

Jacob W. Frank / Rocky Mountain National Park

Before sunrise on a cool fall day, Jacob Job and Carlos Linares woke up, packed up their bags and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. Job, a researcher at Colorado State University, and Linares, his student assistant, are hunters.

Their weapons: microphones. Their prey: the sounds of the elk during the fall mating season.

Ashley Jefcoat / KUNC

Brant Porter, the supervisory ranger at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, is contending with a very Colorado kind of problem: people, a lot more of them than in years past.

So far this year, the park has attracted 55 percent more visitors compared to the same period a year ago. The park isn't alone. That trend is taking place at most of the state's national parks, monuments, historic sites and other areas.

Courtesy National Park Service

Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top places in the country for search and rescue operations, logging an incident almost every other day last year. That's according to a KUNC analysis, which found that the costs of incidents in National Park Service areas across the country hit a three-year high in 2017. In the same period, visits rose by about 8 percent.

Larry Smith / Flickr

It’s early in the morning and Juli Scamardo is in chest waders, guiding me through a beaver meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“These are like mazes,” she says. “It’s hard to get through a meadow and know where you’re going.”

Courtesy of CSU

A new safety campaign from Colorado State University’s communications and natural resources departments is teaching national park visitors about safe selfies.

The Safe Wildlife Distance program includes educational materials for park staff, as well as ads and social media campaigns explaining how to get a good photo of wild animals without putting yourself -- or the animal -- at risk.

“Potentially people didn’t know what a safe distance was,” said Katie Abrams, an assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Communication. “So, they would look to try to read the cues of the wildlife and see if they could make a determination or they would approach the wildlife to a distance that felt safe to them.”

Rae Ellen Bichell / Mountain West News Bureau

Dan Salkeld doesn’t like plunging toilets, filling out tax forms, or clipping his children's toenails. But he loves collecting ticks in Colorado.

Matt Bloom

Speak now or forever pay more to enter the country’s most popular national parks.

Friday, Dec. 22 is the last day to submit a public comment on a proposal to increase entrance fees at 17 parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park. After that, the National Park Service will determine if - and by how much - it will ramp up the cost during parks’ peak seasons.

Courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park

A late spring weather system dropped snow and rain on Northern Colorado in mid-May, leaving many trail goers and campers without their usual haunts for Memorial Day weekend -- including the iconic North Ridge Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“As far as the snow coverage up there – they’re dealing with 4 to 6 feet of snow, and now we’re dealing with high winds,” says Kyle Patterson, the park’s spokeswoman. “And so it does not look probable that Trail Ridge will be opening this weekend.”

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