Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

The snow-mantled peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park rise above verdant valleys, twisting rivers, and glistening lakes. One-third of the park is above tree line, where tundra predominates—a major reason why the area has been set aside as a national park. In 1859 Joel Estes and his son Milton rode into a large valley 20 miles north of Lyons, Colorado. A year later Estes and his family returned and settled in the valley that bears his name.

In about 1909 Enos Mills—naturalist, writer, and conservationist—and others began efforts to preserve what is now Rocky Mountain National Park. The campaign succeeded, and in 1915 the area became the nation's tenth national park. From the montane ecosystem in the park's lower levels to the high alpine tundra ecosystem, there are marked differences in wildlife and vegetation. In montane areas east of the Continental Divide, on warm south-facing slopes, grow ponderosa pine and juniper. West of the divide, lodgepole pine dominates the lower levels. Higher up, in the sub-alpine ecosystem, the dominant tree species are Douglas and sub-alpine fir and Englemann spruce.

Fairchild Mountain Nymph Lake
Ypsilon Mountain   This was just too cool !!!

Throughout the park below the tundra are groves of aspen. Openings in the forest produce summer wildflower gardens of rare beauty, where the Colorado blue columbine reigns. Meadows and glades are dotted with wildflowers in season. At the edge of the tundra the trees are wind-sculpted and seem to crawl along the ground, finally reaching the point where there are no more trees. Life is fragile in this harsh, windswept world. Many of the park's tundra plants are those that can survive in Arctic regions. From its valleys to its mountaintops, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses many worlds. Come explore them.

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