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History of Rocky Mountain

Glacier Gorge from Bear Lake / Sept 2011    Daniel Mayer / CC BY-SA 3.0

Located on the western North American Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park lies west of Estes Park and east of Steamboat Springs.  Due to it's proximity to Denver, it is one of the highest visited of the parks with over 4 million visitors in 2017.  Woodrow Wilson signed Rocky Mountain into being as the 10th National Park in 1915. It was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1976.

Rocky Mountain contains 265,461 acres, and joins with another 253,059 acres of U.S. Forest Land, to protect land for habitats, hiking and mountain climbing.  The Colorado River has its headwaters here -- arising as a small stream high in La Poudre Pass on the northern edge of the park. This is one of the highest parks -- elevations of 7,860 ft to 14,259 ft.  The highest mountain is Longs Peak.  It is popular for climbing and was mentioned in Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon".  

Due to the altitude and geography, there are 5 regions in the park.  Region 1 is on the west side of the park and features moose and big meadows.  Region 2 is the alpine area with incredible views at high elevations.  Region 3 is on the northern side of the park and is know for wilderness escape.  Region 4 is the heart of the Park with the easiest access to trails and lakes on the east side.  This is the most heavily visited region.  Region 5 on the south side of the park is know for waterfalls, Long's peak and backcountry.

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