Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park
NPS Logo


This is a Nation of outdoor lovers; it has yet to become a Nation of mountain lovers. For many years the high, rolling plateau from which rises the majestic Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado has been the resort of increasing summer thousands, but few, indeed, ventured into the fastnesses of the mountains.

When plateau and mountains both became the Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915, the popularity of the neighborhood increased with extraordinary rapidity; the normal attendance of 31,000 in 1915 became 51,000 in 1916 and 117,000 in 1917. Attention became centered upon the snowy mountains which Congress dignified as typical of the Rockies' noblest heights, and the desire to enter them began to possess those who had been content to view them from the plains; thousands of new visitors were attracted by their sudden fame. Mountaineering of the kind which is enjoyable to the unaccustomed has become popular. Increasing thousands yearly are now tasting of a new joy and yet one which is as old as man.

Fortunately there existed, to meet this new need, a few men and women to whom these mountains were old and familiar friends. Fortunately these men and women, proselyters of nature, were inspired to bring all men and women into the fellowship of the wild. This book is a compilation of experiences of the Colorado Mountain Club which cover many years of climbing these very mountains. Its purpose is to offset in some measure the many years of inexperience of those who come new to the mountains. If it will lessen the hardship of new climbers until experience shows them that there is no hardship, but in its stead vigorous nerves, bounding health, inspiration, and a rare communion with nature, its object and the hope of the club's members will be fulfilled.

The immediate purpose of the book is to familiarize the visitor with the Rocky Mountain National Park. But the arbitrary boundaries of the park will no more confine the activities of the ardent climber than they define the natural area of the region. Nature intended the Rocky Mountain National Park to include the superlative divide as far south as Arapaho Pass, as well as some miles of the Medicine Bow or Never Summer Range west of the Grand River; and all this country, naturally tributary to the park as its center of approach, and within easy range of the mountaineering activities of its visitors, has been included in this book.

These mountains are peculiarly adapted to the vacation needs of persons engaged in exacting occupations. The park is remarkably accessible to large centers of population and to the east generally; and, once there, the visitor may enter the very heart of its lofty wilderness with little expense of time and effort. Rolling up from the west in easy slopes, the mountains drop abruptly thousands of feet upon the east to the plateaus of large summer population. Between the knees of their precipices are wild gardens of indescribable grandeur. Having once climbed their heights, the visitor finds peak after peak accessible with comparatively small additional exertion.

With increasing appropriations, the National Park Service will rapidly open the high places by trails and render mountaineering comfortable with shelters and rest houses.

The earlier mountaineering of most persons will be on horseback; general experience and most of the great places will be easily and fully enjoyed in this way. Many always will do their mountaineering on horseback, while others will pass on to the supreme pleasure of the hiker and the scaler of summits. All kinds and degrees of mountaineers will find the experiences related in this book invaluable. It has a message for the casual adventurer of a day, the horseback rider, the wearied worker of the city seeking renewal of vigor, the ambitious amateur, and the skilled climber of long experience.

Whatever its kind and degree, mountaineering is the vacation experience which, above all others, fits man and woman to return to life's toils and problems with perspective, endurance, and steady nerve.


<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 5-Jan-2007