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

Postby Papillon » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:03 pm

If you want to catch some unmolested sleep before Longs, your best bet may be to park at the Twin Sisters TH down the road - I don't remember seeing any red tape regarding overnight parking there or across the street at Lily Lake but I may be wrong.

The free NPS weekends will be a real boon for the town of Estes. You'll get a giant influx of people who don't want to pay $35 for an annual or $20 for a seven day pass but will gladly blow 3-4 times that on ice cream, taffy, and "dude I think this whole town is high" memorabilia. Pure genius...

I'm supposed to be pitched up there the weekend of the 20th but I'm not anticipating too many problems. I would classify the following areas as hot spots that should be avoided like the plague:

1. Trail Ridge Road
2. Alberta Falls
3. Bear Lake

I'll echo sgladbach's comments regarding Goblin's Forest. The location (1.2 miles from TH) is pointless unless one is packing in a cooler and maybe a grill...
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby seekanddestroy99 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:16 pm

Schu- At what time did the ranger wake you up? I pulled in to the lot at midnight and there were four other cars. At 4am the next morning, all four other cars were prepping just like me, fresh from an uncomfortable night on a layed-back driver's seat.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Steve Knapp » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:29 pm

I haven't done much climbing in the Park outside of the Longs Peak trailhead, which of course has no fee. How does it work on the other peaks accessed from the fee area? If you are there early enough can you just drive past the entrance fee stations without paying? Do they check you on the way out? What time do the toll booths open to start collecting fees?

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

Postby Greenhouseguy » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:45 pm

Steve Knapp wrote:I haven't done much climbing in the Park outside of the Longs Peak trailhead, which of course has no fee. How does it work on the other peaks accessed from the fee area? If you are there early enough can you just drive past the entrance fee stations without paying? Do they check you on the way out? What time do the toll booths open to start collecting fees?


If you buy the annual pass (I paid $40 a little more than a year ago), you get a card that you can swipe to open the gates. It's pretty sweet to swipe & go while other people are waiting in line to buy their daily passes.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby dspoland » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:49 pm

We hiked Chapin/Chiquita/Ypsilon on Labor Day weekend last year. Went thru the gate about 0530 for a 0600 start. No one was at the booth at that time. I don't think they check on the way out.

BTW... That is a great hike. Wasn't too crowded for us.

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

Postby StevieTwoShoes » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:56 pm

Steve Knapp wrote:I haven't done much climbing in the Park outside of the Longs Peak trailhead, which of course has no fee. How does it work on the other peaks accessed from the fee area? If you are there early enough can you just drive past the entrance fee stations without paying? Do they check you on the way out? What time do the toll booths open to start collecting fees?


I'm not sure what time they start charging because I've entered at 6:30 am and had to show my pass, but gone through close to 7:00 without a ranger in sight. I know for sure I've never seen rangers manning the booths before 6:00. You do not need to stop on the way out, nor is there any requirement to show that you have paid once you are in the park.
On a side note, I've never understood why RMNP doesn't charge a fee to enter via the Longs Peak TH. Is it because you are hiking in, rather than driving? If that is the case, why are pedestrians charged $10 at other entrances? It seems to me if RMNP is underfunded enough to ask for donations (visitor centers) they should be charging at least the $10 pedestrian fee to enter via Longs Peak TH.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Sigsterrr » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:57 pm

I will be hiking longs peak July 23-25. I have never climbed a 14er but I am in great shape. I am so looking forward to it. Living in Florida, I have set aside 3 full days to climb in case of acclimatization problems. I was thinking of camping at boulder field, but I am not sure if that is such a good idea with the storms and etc that are normal there that time of the year. If we do summit on Thursday, what other hikes in that area do you guys recommend? All class 3 stuff please. Not ready for technical climbing yet.

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

Postby Papillon » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:07 pm

StevieTwoShoes wrote:On a side note, I've never understood why RMNP doesn't charge a fee to enter via the Longs Peak TH. Is it because you are hiking in, rather than driving? If that is the case, why are pedestrians charged $10 at other entrances? It seems to me if RMNP is underfunded enough to ask for donations (visitor centers) they should be charging at least the $10 pedestrian fee to enter via Longs Peak TH.


There was a leaflet at the TH last fall titled "Highway 7 Improvement Plan" which outlined the proposed changes to the area including eliminating the campground and making it a parking lot. The campground would be relocated down the road on Roosevelt NF land. There was also mention of building a large parking lot along Highway 7 at the bottom of the road and putting in an entrance station where a fee could be collected.

I figure this fee station will work like Wild Basin and only be manned during peak months.

I wish I saved the leaflet because I'd post it in pdf form.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby StevieTwoShoes » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:09 pm

Sigsterrr wrote:I will be hiking longs peak July 23-25. I have never climbed a 14er but I am in great shape. I am so looking forward to it. Living in Florida, I have set aside 3 full days to climb in case of acclimatization problems. I was thinking of camping at boulder field, but I am not sure if that is such a good idea with the storms and etc that are normal there that time of the year. If we do summit on Thursday, what other hikes in that area do you guys recommend? All class 3 stuff please. Not ready for technical climbing yet.


Do you want all class 3, or class 3 max? In the immediate area of Longs Peak, you have Chasm Lake and Estes Cone. Just up the road is Twin Sisters. Just down the road is the Wild Basin TH, with numerous Lake and Waterfall hikes (Thunder Lake is my personal favorite there). If you don't mind crowds (and if you're doing Longs, I assume you don't), Hallett Peak via the Flattop Trail from Bear Lake is a nice hike (and a good way to see how you'll adjust to the elevation if you do it beforehand).
For something less crowded, anything in the Mummy Range is nice. All summits there require long approach hikes, but reward you with a great deal of solitude rarely found elsewhere in the park. If you would rather spend your time at a lake, Lawn Lake is pretty nice, but hiking just beyond it, you will come to Crystal Lakes, where I have never seen another person. I hope that gives you a good start, but opportunities in the Park are nearly limitless. I'm sure others will have more for you.

edit-I should add that the above are all class 1 and 2 hikes. As far as class 3 goes, off the top of my head, you have Little Matterhorn from Bear Lake TH, and McHenrys Peak via Stone Man Pass (Glacier Gorge TH). You could also summit Mt. Meeker (just south of Longs), which has an interesting move or two on the way to the summit block, but nothing that exceeds class 3.
Last edited by StevieTwoShoes on Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby StevieTwoShoes » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:16 pm

Papillon wrote:There was a leaflet at the TH last fall titled "Highway 7 Improvement Plan" which outlined the proposed changes to the area including eliminating the campground and making it a parking lot. The campground would be relocated down the road on Roosevelt NF land. There was also mention of building a large parking lot along Highway 7 at the bottom of the road and putting in an entrance station where a fee could be collected.

I figure this fee station will work like Wild Basin and only be manned during peak months.

I wish I saved the leaflet because I'd post it in pdf form.


Thanks, Papillon. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on that next time I'm in the Park, which I'm hopeful will be tomorrow. You've spent a lot of time in the Park, what do you think of that plan?
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Tory Wells » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:25 pm

Tabasco78 wrote:What is the official reasoning behind the no TH car "camping" thing anyway?

Unfortunately, the world is not full of responsible people like us, but mostly of inconsiderate morons who would have a party in the parking lot and leave lots of trash. I'm sure the NPS is also worried about people vandalizing or breaking into the ranger cabin at the TH. ChicagoTransplant is right....sleeping in your car in the lot has the least impact, and it's a shame that irresponsible people have ruined that for us.

Papillon wrote:If you want to catch some unmolested sleep before Longs, your best bet may be to park at the Twin Sisters TH down the road - I don't remember seeing any red tape regarding overnight parking there or across the street at Lily Lake but I may be wrong.

You probably could sleep at either of those TH's, but since they are within park boundaries, the rules are the same for those lots as the Longs Peak TH. You could give it a shot but you might end up getting woken up by a ranger in the middle of the night.
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Re: Longs Peak & Ken Salazar's Free Weekends @RNP?

Postby Papillon » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:36 pm

StevieTwoShoes wrote:I'll have to see if I can get my hands on that next time I'm in the Park, which I'm hopeful will be tomorrow. You've spent a lot of time in the Park, what do you think of that plan?


Here is a link I found to the proposed actions:

Highway 7 Recreation Improvements Plan

They are currently taking public comments on this until June 30th.

Steve, this is a significantly larger document than the one I perused last fall so I'll probably have to digest it tonight. Originally, I was against razing the campground because it is RV free but I have not stayed there since my first summer in CO (2007) and there are some secret spots in Moraine Park that I always try to reserve these days.

I agree with you regarding at least a pedestrian fee. That area gets a ton of traffic in July and August. I'd be curious to find out how many people enter the Longs Peak massif without a pass. I can't remember if the backcountry office asked for my pass the last time I had a permit.
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