On Sunday, January 13th, 20 military and veteran family members from across the country were treated to a guided interpretive snowshoe hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The adventure started with a short safety briefing and the distribution of free National Park Active Duty and Access passes. The active duty military, veterans, and their families braved single digit temperatures and an elevation of 8,470 feet above sea level to snowshoe to a frozen waterfall. The East Inlet Trail took the group to a Adams Falls and farther up to a meadow with spectacular views of snow covered peaks. Before heading back to the trailhead and hot chocolate, the group had a chance to try out different snowshoe techniques and play in the snow.
For many in the group, it was a new experience. Most of the participants had never been snowshoeing or been to Rocky Mountain National Park. The trip was made possible through a unique partnership. Project Sanctuary, a non-profit, sponsored the event and partnered with rangers from Florissant Fossil Beds and Rocky Mountain to coordinate the logistics for the trip.
Project Sanctuary’s mission is to provide therapeutic, curative, supportive and recreational activities to veterans, active military personnel, their spouses and children in a leisure environment. Florissant Fossil Beds, through its military outreach program called “Post to Parks,” helped connect the organization and parks.
“Although the weather was extremely cold, the families had a great time,” said Florissant Fossil Beds ranger and program coordinator Scott Harper. “Park rangers Rebecca Roland and Sarah Hershfelt did an outstanding job of leading the hike and explaining the wonders of Rocky Mountain. The folks were delighted when we handed out the free passes and said they had no idea they were eligible to receive them. This hike was an outstanding way to connect our military and veterans to the National Parks and the outdoors.”
Monthly trips to Rocky Mountain are planned throughout the upcoming year to coincide with Project Sanctuary retreats. The idea is to help connect the military with the lands they protect and to encourage them to enjoy and be stewards of our public lands.
For more information about this program and/or outreach to the military community please contact Scott Harper at Florissant Fossil Beds at 719-748-3253.