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Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby jibler » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:55 am

So I've never hiked Longs. Now I see that Salazar is offering a free weekend at RNP in mid june/july and august.


You do need a park pass to hike it right?

Do most people end up staying the night around the peak (in the park)?

Are those overnight permit difficult to get on an average weekend?

Will it be near impossible to get an overnight permit for one of these free weekends?

Can you request those in advance?

Am I just being cheap?

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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby womanhiker » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:28 am

We didn't pay anything to hike Longs lost summer. We just got a few hours of shut eye in the car before heading up at 3am.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby DHatfield » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:37 am

jibler, You don't need a park pass to climb Longs Peak as long as you are climbing it from the Longs Peak Trailhead. When I did it I drove up very early the day of the climb. There is a campground near the trailhead, however it is only first come first serve basis. The permits are only required if you are backpacking into the park to go camping.

Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Steve Climber » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:43 am

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Scroll down to get Long's site info...

You can also hike in to The Boulderfield (around 12,000') just below the Keyhole and tent up there for an overnight fee (not sure what the cost is up there, but I imagine it's included in "free weekend")

RMNP fee's really apply to the toll boothed road that runs through the park that you can drive from Estes Park. The Long's TH lot is free to park in, and I don't think they patrol for car camping in the lot itself...get there early for sure though, as it fills up FAST.

p.s. I have only hiked there, never camped, so I may be wrong on some of this info.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby tmathews » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:00 pm

jibler wrote:So I've never hiked Longs. Now I see that Salazar is offering a free weekend at RNP in mid june/july and august.


You do need a park pass to hike it right?

Do most people end up staying the night around the peak (in the park)?

Are those overnight permit difficult to get on an average weekend?

Will it be near impossible to get an overnight permit for one of these free weekends?

Can you request those in advance?

Am I just being cheap?


If you're getting started late enough to have to consider paying an entrance fee, you should probably reconsider the timing. :wink:

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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby sgladbach » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:03 pm

Using the TH at the Long's Peak Ranger Station does NOT require a park pass. It is always free. There is a Campground at the TH (car camping or pitch a tent) which has a fee and can be reserverd. Salazar's offer would not apply to using that CG. You are not allowed to sleep in your car at the TH, though many people pull in late (10PM at the earliest) and catch some shut-eye in their car. You can sleep elsewhere and pull into the TH parking lot for your alpine start. All of these options involve doing the entire mountain as a day-hike.

Most people (hard core 14er climbers and tourists alike) do the mountain in a single push. Many of the tourists do not make the summit, but a surprising number do! It is not at all unreasonable for a 14er hiker to do the mountain and be off the exposed areas before noon if they start at 3-4 AM (which most do.) The afternoon weather can move in early and screw you, but what can you do?

There are three pack-in camping areas which require a permit. They are limited and can be hard to get. Call the park service. I wouldn't recommend them unless backpacking and sleeping in your tent is part of your preferred experience.

Goblin's Forest CG is only a couple miles in and hardly worth (IMO) the extra weight. You can only sleep in about an hour extra since the CG is only a couple miles in. The Boulder Field CG is about 6 miles in and leaves only the difficult last mile of the mountain to tackle the next day. However, the upper part of the mountain is not somewhere you want to be before daylight shows the route and verglas from yesterday's thunderstorms are melted. Thus, most don't leave this camp before 6:30AM. Well, you could hike there from the bottom by that time w/ a 3-4AM start.

Finally, there are at least two other major routes that are not technical. The Kepplinger's Couloir Route (First recorded white men ascent route) can be climbed from the Wild Basin TH in a day by most. You DO need to pay a park entrance fee, but if you begin with an alpine start, there is no one there to collect. But the alpine start is an issue, because the route is very difficult to follow in the dark if you haven't been there before. For this route, you ARE well served to get a permit and pack in to Sand Lakes.

The Trough Route requies a Parks Pass. Usually it is done in a day; there are roadside CGs inside the park which cost extra and need reservations. There are also backcountry permits available for getting in closer.

So: It is always free to hike Long's on the standard (Keyhole) route. Same is true for the loft (Clark's Arrow) route. Keyhole route is best for a novice, Clark's arrow (Loft) is next best. IMO you do not need to pack in (where you would need a permit.) Salazar's offer would not have any effect on your options for these two routes.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Schu » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:15 pm

About sleeping in your car-

A couple of years ago I pulled into the Longs Peak parking lot about 11 pm in October, only a few cars in the lot. I pulled on my coat , layed the driver's seat back, and went to sleep. Sometime while I was in the deepest sleep a light shone in my eyes and woke me. I groggily rolled the window down and heard " OUT OF THE VEHICLE, SIR!" I stumbled out and had a ranger humorlessly lecture that camping was PROHIBITED and directed me to the nearby campground. I went to the campground, but was never able to get back to sleep. I managed to summit the next day, but the lack of sleep really put a damper on what should have been a glorious climb.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Chicago Transplant » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:47 pm

I slept in my car at the trailhead last year and nobody bothered me. The campground was actually full.

I don't see what the big deal is really. Techincally sleeping in your car in a parking lot is not "camping" and has a much lower impact than actual tent camping does. There is no impact on the ground (its a paved lot), they have a restroom so you don't go to the bathroom on the ground either. If you hiked in to Goblins Forest your car would still be there anyway, with or without you in it, so the "impact" would be the same to the parking lot, but you would be adding impact to Goblins Forest by hiking in to camp.

Schu - you should have just grabbed your pack and started hiking up the trail :wink:
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Greenhouseguy » Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:18 pm

There are numerous other peaks in RMNP that might be worth visiting on a free weekend. There's the Chapin/Ypsilon/Chiquita hike, the Flatttop/Hallett hike, Half Mountain, Thatchtop, Deer Mountain, etcetera. It all depends on your interests & abilities. You can bet your sweet arse that any free weekend will also be a crowded weekend. Buy an annual pass (very reasonably priced), and enjoy the hikes at your leisure.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Tabasco78 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:09 pm

What is the official reasoning behind the no TH car "camping" thing anyway?

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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Schu » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:38 pm

Chicago,
What is the point of applying logic? You forget that the park is run by the federal government. :wink: I found that it was hard to come up with clever arguements when woken out of a sound sleep and facing someone with gun and a flashlight aimed into my eyes (the flashlight, not the gun).
Since I couldn't sleep, I hit the trail too early; I got to Chasm Lake still in the dark (this was October) and had to wait an hour or so before it was light enough to climb up to the Loft.
Range after range of mountains
Year after year after year
I am still in love.
--Gary Snyder

Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Bean » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:43 pm

Schu wrote:Chicago,
What is the point of applying logic? You forget that the park is run by the federal government. :wink: I found that it was hard to come up with clever arguements when woken out of a sound sleep and facing someone with gun and a flashlight aimed into my eyes (the flashlight, not the gun).
Since I couldn't sleep, I hit the trail too early; I got to Chasm Lake still in the dark (this was October) and had to wait an hour or so before it was light enough to climb up to the Loft.

Isn't that what headlamps are for? I hit the summit of meeker nearly an hour before sunrise one morning after taking the loft, though not without a bit of off-route waterfall climbing...
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