Rocky Mountain National Park was created on September 4, 1915. Rocky Mountain National Park became a park before the National Park Service was created in 1916. To learn more about the area before it was a park, and how the park was created, please visit our Brief Park History page.
Before the park was created, the area that would become the park was put to many more uses than are allowed today. The vintage photo of picking flowers in 1900 shows one use of the area before the park was created. Today picking flowers, gathering wood, and other consumptive uses are not permitted.
Some of the recreational equipment used by park visitors has changed a lot since the early days. The vintage photo of climbers on Tyndall Glacier in 1892 shows several ladies in long dresses. They must certainly have presented additional challenges for the ladies. Fortunately, today, most park visitors are considerably more well equipped for their activities, although occasionally today's visitors overlook the need for carrying adequate water to keep from becoming dehydrated, or jackets for high altitude chills.
Changes in the recreational equipment used in the park may have occurred in some cases because, from a modern perspective, the methods were unsafe. The climber with cowboy hat shown in the last picture is not particularly well protected from falling rocks, though he does have a rope (more easily seen on the larger photo available by clicking on "more" after the photo caption).
Some things about the park have stayed very much the same during the time since our dedication in 1915. Our mission is to preserve park resources and naturally functioning ecosystems, so much of the work by park staff involves protecting, monitoring, and restoring ecosystems. As just two examples, the Deers with Collars web page explains one of the park's programs to deal with Chronic Wasting Disease, a deadly wildlife disease, and the Invasive Exotic Weeds web page describes our efforts to deal with invasive exotic weeds.
If you visit Rocky Mountain National Park to help celebrate our birthday, or at any other time of year, please take time to think about our proud history and our dedication to preserving park resources for future generations.