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National Park Journal

National Park Journal Colorado 2021

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Get the digital version of the National Park Journal with its four separate park editions (Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Yosemite) to discover all-time favorite road trips to the national parks. From Utah’s dazzling deserts, the adobe-lined streets of New Mexico’s charming towns, Wyoming’s authentic outposts, California’s stunning coastline and Colorado’s mountain towns, we feature all the amazing places to explore en route to the parks, no matter where you begin your adventure. Plus , our insider’s guide includes our top things to do in each national park in 48 hours. Discover the best hiking trails, campsites and attractions in our magazine. Our illustrated wildlife guide will help you discover the best of the park's wild animals, including tips on where to find them, and our packing list ensures you don’t leave anything at home.

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United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC
4 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
editor’s note

From the Saddlehorn Campground in Colorado National Monument, you can see gorgeous red-rock walls plunging into sage-colored canyons, providing a striking contrast to the blue sky above. Rarely crowded, it offers campsites steeped in solitude amid piñon pine and juniper trees. Plus, there’s a clean flush-toilet bathroom in a beautifully built historic log building. It’s one of my favorite camping spots in the West. So, why was I camping in late November on a gravel-based tent pad outside the entrance to Colorado National Monument and 15 minutes from Saddlehorn Campground? It was one of many questions I pondered at 3:30 a.m. as I buried my face in my sleeping bag to keep it from freezing in the 25-degree weather. Why was it so cold? Why was the traffic on I-70 a…

2 min.
colorado's big four

1 GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE Is this south-central Colorado or the Sahara? The continent’s tallest sand dunes join the rugged Sangre de Cristo mountains here. Hike the striking High Dune on First Ridge, a 2-hour, 2.5-mile round trip walk up 699 feet of sand to the top. Then sled down with a sand sled rented at Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa for extreme speed. Or beach it along Medano Creek, which flows April through June. Track the current and forecasted river flow on the park’s website. >Learn more on pages 18-19. 2 MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK Described as the pyramids of North America, the ancient ruins at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado hold the early stories of our nation. About 1,400 years ago ancestral Puebloans built more than 600…

1 min.
mesa verde's top six

1 TAKE A SUNRISE TOUR Beat the heat by seeing Mesa Verde’s most adventurous cliff dwelling, Balcony House, at sunrise. A ranger will lead you up ladders and through narrow tunnels. Reserve your spot at recreation.gov. 2 SEE PETROGLYPHS Hike the 2.4-mile round trip Petroglyph Point Trail to see the only petroglyphs in the park. Start near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. 3 GO FOR A DRIVE Don’t miss the six-mile Mesa Top Loop Road, a scenic drive that stops at 12 archaeological sites, including surface sites and overlooks into cliff dwellings. 4 SEE FOR MILES Head to the highest point in Mesa Verde to see the view from the Park Point Fire Lookout. This structure was built in 1939 to provide early fire detection. 5 EAT IN STYLE Make a reservation at the dinner-only Metate Room, an award-winning…

3 min.
best rv campgrounds

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK Beautiful Glacier Basin Campground is only open May – October, making it the perfect stop on a summer road trip. At 8,500 feet in elevation, a mix of sun and shade is welcome as early morning temperatures can be chilly, even in summer. RVs up to 35 feet in length are allowed. There are no hookups or dump station, but generators can be run in the morning and evening hours in all but a few campsites. Don’t worry about finding parking for your rig when you go explore for the day. The free park shuttle stops at the campground and will bring you to trailheads along Bear Lake Road or into Estes Park. Campground reservations are highly recommended and can be made at recreation.gov. BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON…

2 min.
cliffside fun

1 EXPERIENCE THE VIEWS Black Canyon is named for its sheer black cliffs that plummet 2,000 feet to the river below. Get a peek into the canyon’s depths at one of the South Rim’s 12 overlooks on Rim Drive. Our favorites? Chasm View, Painted Wall, Pulpit Rock and Sunset View. 2 TAKE A DRIVE THROUGH A TIME PORTAL Drive down into the canyon via the East Portal. This 16-percent-grade road is paved the whole way but is very steep and includes many switchbacks. Leave your RVs at the top and take your personal vehicle down into the canyon. Before you go, grab a brochure on the history of the East Portal from the visitor center to learn about the amazing engineering feat that turned Montrose into fertile farmland. 3 BOAT DOWN THE RIVER Curecanti National…

2 min.
the four ways into rocky mountain

1 BEAVER MEADOWS ENTRANCE On the park’s east side lies the Beaver Meadows Entrance, the most direct entrance from Estes Park, a town that sits right outside Rocky Mountain National Park. An hour’s drive from Boulder and two hours from Denver, the lively Estes Park is the closest town to the park on the east side. Open year round, the Beaver Meadows Entrance is the most popular and is accessed by Hwy. 36. Stop by the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to get information, books, maps and backcountry permits, as well as to catch the park bus. 2 FALL RIVER ENTRANCE On the park's east side, Old Fall River Road, a mostly gravel road with a speed limit of 15 mph, allows you to take your time to admire the scenery. Like the Beaver Meadows…