Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park Partially Reopens After Fires
Rocky Mountain National Park will partially reopen after two of the largest wildfires in Colorado history forced its complete closure.
On Thursday, the park announced that visitors could return to areas deemed safe on the east side of the park and the west side of the park remains closed for safety assessments.
Visitors will be able to access roads, parking areas and trails in Wild Basin, Longs Peak, Lily Lake, Twin Sisters, Lumpy Ridge and US 34 through the Fall River Entrance to Many Parks Curve as well as the Endovalley Road, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
The NPS encourages visitors to remain mindful of smoke, wind, weather, and fire conditions when visiting at this time.
Over the past few weeks, Colorado has been simultaneously battling two of the largest fires ever recorded in its history. The Cameron Peak Fire has burned nearly 209,000 acres of land, and the East Troublesome Fire which has burned more than 193,000 acres of land.
Rocky Mountain National Park closed on Oct. 22 after the East Troublesome Fire advanced 18 miles in a single day.
“It is extremely uncommon, since the park was created in 1915. So we have not had this level of fire activity in the park for 105 years,” Kyle Patterson, the park’s public information officer, told Colorado Public Radio. “This year has been extreme, significant — all the words that we're hearing — unprecedented.”
A total fire ban in the park will remain in effect until further notice, according to the NPS.
Nearly 29,000 acres of land in the 265,600-acre national park have burned due to the two fires, according to Coloradoan. Although the land has been affected, the park has only reported minor damage to campgrounds and trails.
But forests can withstand fires and despite the damage, the landscape may grow back stronger.
“A lot of times things will restore and be better — but not in our lifetimes. So we won't necessarily reap that,” Patterson told Colorado Public Radio. “But we do want the public to understand that their beloved park is still here. And some areas may look a little different, but there's a lot of positives.”
In the adjacent Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, about 1.5 million acres of land remain closed due to the fires.