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Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Rocky Mountain National Park


Homesteader and lodge keeper Abner Sprague was the first person to pay to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. His fee was $3.

Rocky Mountain National Park licenced the nation’s first female nature guides in 1917. Sisters Ester and Elizabeth Burnell learned the naturalist trade from advocate and author Enos Mills.

Hummingbirds use spiderwebs to bolster their nests, which are the size of a walnut shell. Hummingbird eggs are the size of a Tic-Tac breath mint.

Temperature causes tree line. Trees need an average growing temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Nerd Herd (research volunteers) gave more than 4,500 hours to the park in 2009. These citizen scientists helped monitor the health of resources including bears, elk, plants, hummingbirds, glaciers and butterflies.

In 2004. about 3 million people visited the park and there were 190 search-and-rescue incidents.

Daily during the summer, the park’s custodial crew cleans 102 toilets at trailheads and along roads. They also clean around 100 toilets at campgrounds, 30 visitor center toilets and 35 toilets for park staff. That’s 267 toilets cleaned every day of the summer.

Source: Rocky Mountain National Park

Ever wonder what it takes to run Rocky Mountain National Park for almost 100 years?

The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, formerly known as the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, is offering a behind-the-scenes tour May 9.

The conservancy is the nonprofit partner of the national park, which was founded in September 1915 as the country’s 13th national park. The nonprofit hosts a variety of cultural and natural history classes, some for credit, and will celebrate the park’s centennial with events starting in September.

Rachel Balduzzi, the conservancy’s field institute director, will lead the behind-the-scenes tour, which is limited to 14 adults and costs $35 each.

Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., participants will explore secret trails and learn about how the park operates.

They will visit the backcountry office and camping areas, learn how visitor permits are issued and find out about fire management. They will check out the operations stations for the national park’s rangers, tour the greenhouse where plants are grown for revegetation of disturbed areas and look through the park’s museum storage to see some of the artifacts.

Balduzzi said she will teach participants about the differences among the divisions that manage the park, including the ranger division, resource management division and interpretation division, and show them the gear used by search-and-rescue teams.

The tour will end with a picnic at the field institute and information about how to get involved in helping the park for future generations.

Balduzzi worked for years in the park’s interpretation and education departments. She also has a master’s degree in education and experience teaching for the Estes Park School District.

Reserve a spot on the tour by calling (970) 586-3262 or checking out the seminar course calendar at rmna.org (soon to become RMConservancy.org).

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