The Geologic Story of the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado
NPS Logo


Robert B. Marshall, chief geographer of the United States Geological Survey, says of this park: "This region as a whole is as beautiful as any to be found in the United States, or indeed in the world." He was not the first to entertain such views. F. V. Hayden, one of the best known pioneer geologists of the West, who visited the park in September, 1871, says of it in his report for 1875 (p. 437):

We will scarcely be able to find a region so favorably distinguished as that presented by Estes Park. Not only has nature amply supplied this valley with features of rare beauty and surroundings of admirable grandeur, but it has thus distributed them that the eye of an artist may rest with perfect satisfaction on the complete picture presented. It may be said, perhaps, that the more minute details of the scenery are too decorative in their character, showing, as they do, the irregular picturesque groups of hills, buttes, products of erosion, and the finely molded ridges in the very center of the park. Although this arrangement separates the otherwise broad expanse into a number of small areas, the total effect is pleasing in the extreme.

But geologists and geographers are not the only ones who have been attracted by the beauties of the Rocky Mountain National Park. It has appealed as strongly to the artist and to the poet as to the scientific observer. The work of the landscape painter Albert Bierstadt has been mentioned, and the following verses, read by Huston Thompson at the National Parks Conference in Washington, January, 1917, express something of the inspiration derived from the noble summits of this park:

I sigh for your peaks, your canyons and trees,
Where the rain, the sun, the mist, and the breeze
Slowly fashion God's dreams with infinite grace,
Forever unconscious of man's fevered pace.
Your vistas are not like those by the sea
Where questions unanswered roll back from the lee;
No Sphinx's riddle you leave in the soul,
But joyously point each heart to its goal.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>>

Last Updated: 11-Dec-2006