Rocky Mountain National Park Cleanup
Ecotour & Study Environmental Sciences in Colorado
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Welcome to Colorado! Your guide will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodation in Denver. You’ll stay in the Mile High City for a for the evening to get acclimated to the elevation. Make sure to drink lots of water and get plenty of rest this day as you prepare your body to continue to climb at altitude over the next week.
Check out of your hotel and head to Boulder, Colorado, a short drive northwest from Denver. There, you will be amazed at how quickly the city turns into foothills, which then turn quickly into towering mountains — as you will see up close tomorrow.
Today, you will meet a Boulder Park Ranger, who will guide you on a trail winding through the Flatirons, massive stony rock outcrops that overlook the city. The ranger will teach you all about this area, and all of the work it takes to preserve its natural beauty by creating trails and keeping them clean, and how they manage the land differently throughout the four seasons.
This afternoon, you will head to Chautauqua Park, arguably the area of Boulder with the best trails and best views of the giant Flatirons. Notice the signature reddish tint to the rocks and learn about how this striking geology formed millions of years ago.
Get ready to head into Rocky Mountain National Park! Rise early and drive into the mountains to reach Estes Park. Here, you will get to enjoy your first hike of the trip at higher elevation, climbing to about 10,000 feet.
Your acclimation hike will be a short 3.3-mile hike to Gem Lake just outside of Estes Park. This moderate hike includes 990 feet of elevation gain and ends at the incredibly beautiful Gem Lake. As you hike along, be sure to pick up any trash you see. Once at the lake, you will also go around collecting any leftover trash. Colorado locals typically adhere to the “pack it in, pack it out” rule, however, things can still be left behind. Do your part in keeping this beautiful lake trash-free.
Gear up to hop on horseback to get a first-hand look of the beauty of Estes Park. Your guide will teach you how to ride and control a horse, so don’t worry if this is your first time! As you ride along the trail, your guide will teach you about how Coloradans have used horses throughout history as an instrumental tool for development of the state. As you ride along, keep your eyes peeled for elk and other wildlife!
Halfway through your ride, hop off for a break in the shade, where you will enjoy a picnic. Enjoy all the tasty food, and feel great knowing that it is all locally farmed and sourced! After lunch, jump back on your horse and head back to the ranch. Once there, learn about how they care for the horses and all of their other animals in an environmentally responsible way. After leaving the ranch, grab a quick dinner and head to bed early to rest up for the next three days of backpacking the park.
Lace up your hiking boots, strap on your backpack, and load on the sunscreen today as you prepare for the first day of your 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip. You will be hiking just over four miles today to end up at Finch Lake. You will then hike along Finch Lake Trail, which is a bit more off the beaten path, but still a local favorite as it is less crowded and still just as beautiful as more popular hikes in RMNP.
About halfway into your hike, you will reach a clearing in the forest that offers an absolutely breathtaking view of Mt. Meeker, which stands at an impressive 13,911 feet above sea level. About half a mile further down the trail, you will begin passing the area that was burned in the 1978 Ozuel Fire. The fire burned for almost four months, consuming over 1,000 acres of forest, making it one of the most devastating fires in RMNP history. Your guide will teach you more about how this fire started and the impacts of the fire, as well as preventive measures take by the park aimed to stop similar future fires.
You will soon arrive at your campground, where you will set up camp. Learn to pitch your own tent and cook your own food. Enjoy your evening around the campfire, as you are surrounded by friends, the tranquil forest and millions of brilliant stars
Today you will hike to Pear Lake, a beautiful, secluded, high-altitude lake. Today you will only need your day-pack, so you can leave your camping gear behind as you’ll be returning to the same campground later this afternoon.
As you hike to Pear Lake, you will surely feel the elevation as you will gain over 730 feet in this two-mile trek. Once you arrive to Pear Lake, enjoy a picnic lunch and some water as you absorb the incredible view. Listen and watch closely as this lake is well known for great wildlife spotting.
After a relaxing afternoon spent at Pear Lake, hike back down to the campsite at Finch Lake. Once back at camp, your guide will teach you how to safely start and maintain campfires, as well as how to camp without leaving a trace. These will be important lessons you can carry on with you, even after your time at RMNP.
Wake up early today to head to the lake and cast a line, in hopes of snagging a beautiful rainbow trout. Your guide will teach you about the ecology of the lake, as well as how to bait and cast your fishing pole. If you are lucky enough to get a bite, you can cook up the fish for a tasty lunch around the fire.
After lunch, you will pack up the campsite. Be sure to be very diligent in cleaning up, and be sure to leave the campsite even better than you found it. You also need to be sure to pack out all of your trash and dispose of it in a bear-safe container.
After a long hike down, hop in the van where you’ll have a tasty dinner with the option to taste a Colorado favorite: the bison burger. Check in to the hotel and enjoy the comfortable bed and get a well-deserved good night’s sleep.
Have a relaxing morning and a leisurely breakfast before partaking in today’s main event: the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. Soak in incredible panoramic views of RMNP from the antique tram that has been transporting visitors to the summit since 1955. On this incredible ride, you will have views of the Continental Divide, Prospect Mountain, Long’s Peak and Estes Park itself. As soon as you get on the tram, the city will become smaller, and the views become increasingly more beautiful. The views from the tram will surely show you the beauty of RMNP, and the importance of protecting its land and animals.
After a morning of sightseeing, you’ll head to a ranger station to meet some of the RMNP’s finest rangers. Here you will learn about what it takes to become a park ranger here, and you will get to spend an afternoon in their shoes. Learn about the daily tasks and duties of the rangers, and it’s guaranteed you’ll learn a thing or two about keeping national parks clean.
After an amazing week in Colorado, it is time to head home. Hopefully, you’ve learned all about the world-famous Rocky Mountain National Park, how to keep it clean, and enjoyed its beauty along the way. Safe travels home!
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