On your knees in a sea of tiny, fragrant flowers, at an elevation of 12,000'. You're experiencing the alpine tundra in bloom - a spectacular life zone covering more than one quarter of Rocky Mountain National Park. Here a four-inch pincushion plant might be fifty years old; a tiny spring beauty can have a root which reaches three feet below ground! Drop down a bit in elevation (11,000-11,500), and you're in a forest of gnarled, twisted, tiny trees - krummholz. Descend a little lower, and you enter denser forests of spruce and fir, or lodgepole pine. Move to the thick air of 8,500' and you can wander through open ponderosa and aspen stands, or wide meadows adjacent to fast-moving rivers. In each of these zones, there are distinctive shrubs and wildflowers to be enjoyed. Rocky Mountain National Park supports more than a thousand flowering plants in its varied ecosystems. Elevations ranging from 7700' to more than 14,000' provide a spectrum of conditions favoring many specialized plant species. From tiny aquatic diatoms through amanita mushrooms to towering Douglas firs, the plants of this park are representative of the southern Rocky Mountain flora.