Changes at Glacier Basin
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Extensive beetle mitigation work continues at a variety of locations in Rocky Mountain National Park, including Glacier Basin Campground, on the east side of the park. Many trees in the Glacier Basin Campground have been killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. However, some pockets of trees have been saved by annual spraying. Removal of dead trees and standing lone trees reduce the risk associated with falling trees.
Glacier Basin Campground sits at 8,500 feet, mainly in a lodgepole forest. Bordered by Glacier Creek with west views to the Continental Divide, the campground is located on the Bear Lake Road. Glacier Basin Campground is normally on the national reservation system, along with Moraine Park Campground. Because there will be fewer sites available this summer at Glacier Basin it has been temporarily taken off the reservation system. It will be first come, first serve this summer. As a result, Aspenglen Campground has been put on the reservation system. Therefore, the two reservation campgrounds for this summer at Rocky Mountain National Park are Moraine Park Campground and Aspenglen Campground.
Rocky Mountain National Park has five front country campgrounds. Due to ongoing beetle mitigation work, there will be fewer overall campsites in the park this year. Group camping that normally takes place at Glacier Basin will only be available through reservation at Moraine Park.
Beetle mitigation work will also continue at Timber Creek Campground. Most trees in Timber Creek Campground have been killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. One loop was cleared last summer and reopened in early July. The other three loops continue to be temporarily closed until clearing takes place.
There will be other temporary closures in the park this year pertaining to hazard tree removal and mitigation work for pine beetle. Some backcountry campsites, trailhead parking areas, and picnic areas may be temporarily closed for additional hazard tree removal. Permits are required to camp in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park and there are 267 backcountry campsites in the park. Updates on the current status of specific backcountry campsites are available through the park’s backcountry office.
Bark beetles are impacting forests from Canada to Mexico and can be found at elevations from sea level to 11,000 feet. The park is just one small area where beetles are killing trees. Beetle outbreaks have occurred in the past, but since the park was established in 1915, there has never been an outbreak as large as the one currently occurring. In the park’s backcountry, which comprises about 95% of the park, bark beetle populations fluctuate under natural processes with limited mitigation work occurring around some designated backcountry campsites. In addition, there is no effective means of controlling a large beetle outbreak in such a vast area.
Visitors are always cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and manage risk, particularly during times of high wind. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park’s information office at (970) 586-1206.
Did You Know?
The oldest rocks in the park are metamorphic (biotite schist and gneiss) estimated at 1.7 billion years old, making them some of the oldest rocks within the National Park System.