Night Sky & Noise
Dark night skies and natural quiet are examples of the intangible resources protected by Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, the booming growth of Front Range communities makes some degradation of these resources inevitable. However, park planners are working with local communities to protect the park to the extent possible.
A research study, led by Dr. Jonathan Taylor, examined what types of backcountry experiences park visitors most value. You can read the report entitled Wilderness Experience in Rocky Mountain National Park 2002: Report to RMNP. This information assisted park managers in planning for the continued protection of the park's "intangible" resources.
The ability to view the stars, moon, planets and other celestial objects is an important part of the visitor experience. Views of the night sky are being degraded by light pollution from park facilities and nearby urban development. Rocky Mountain National Park installs new exterior light fixtures that protect the night sky as new facilities are constructed, or older facilities are remodeled. The Town of Estes Park has adopted a new zoning code that requires shielded light fixtures for all new development.
The park offers night sky astronomy programs in summer and winter. See the Ranger Led Programs page for details.
The Park Onmibus Appropriations Act of 1998 banned the use of low-flying, commercial air tours over Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain is the only park in the system to date that has this type of protection. Passage of this legislation reflects widespread community support for limiting noise from aircraft. Commercial airlines, military, and private aircraft are not covered by this policy and are allowed to fly above a specified altitude. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates air traffic over the park and has established "published" routes to which commercial aircraft must adhere. Military and private aircraft are not restricted to these routes.
Did You Know?
The ptarmigan is camouflaged perfectly in summer, with "mottled rock" color, and in winter, when it takes on the color of snow.