The Cree Indians, who inhabited Canada, the Dakotas and Minnesota, also inhabited the grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains. From the grasslands, the Cree could see a large rock mass, which they called as-sin-wati. While huge glaciers shaped meadows and peaks, Rocky was an inhospitable land. It wasn't until about 11,000 years ago that humans began venturing into these valleys and mountains.
Spearheads broken by the fury of a mammoth's charge and scrapers discarded along a nomad's path tell us little about the area's first native peoples. Although it was never their home all year round, the Ute tribe preferred the area's green valleys, tundra meadows and crystal clear lakes. The Utes dominated the area until the end of the 18th century. With the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the U.S.
The US government acquired the land now known as Rocky Mountain National Park. Spanish explorers and French fur hunters lined the area during their forays into nature. Long, the explorer who gives the peak its name, avoided these steep barricades on his famous expedition of 1820.
The Pikes Peak gold rush of 1859 attracted hopeful miners and speculators. Its settlements in places like Lulu City, in what is now the northwest part of the park, were short-lived. The hectic boom times gave rise to a laborious period of industriousness that began in the 1860s.
These shelter caretakers maintained paths, built trails, and guided visitors to the highlands. When the first superintendent arrived, he also began building facilities to support visitors. The park's first managers had a meager budget with which to protect the 358.3 square miles under their jurisdiction. As visitation increased after World War I, simple park facilities and private lodges became inadequate.
Park rangers built well-maintained comfort stations, museums and trails to meet visitor expectations.
At the new Beaver Meadows, Kawuneeche and Alpine visitor centers, guests can watch a movie, talk to a ranger, and find their way to the park. During Mission 66, the National Park Service purchased many of the old guest accommodations within the park boundaries, removed all buildings, and built new campgrounds and parking lots. In the 1970s, Park Superintendents began managing crowds in the park through camps assigned to the interior of the country and shuttle buses. Rangers educated park visitors to be good park managers through signs, camp talks, and seminars.
The park has about 350 miles (565 km) of hiking trails. The most popular activities are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter and hiking, fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding in summer. Several of the visitor centers have cultural and natural history exhibits. While the establishment of the RMNP helped preserve thousands of acres, Congress only approved the founding of the park once intensive studies showed that there was no mineral wealth to extract from the mountains.
Established on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has been for more than a century one of the most visited national parks in the country. Rocky Mountain encompasses 415 square miles of spectacular mountain environments that are just a short drive from Denver, Colorado. Little has been recorded of Europeans who could have seen or visited the Rocky Mountain National Park area before the 19th century.
While it is important to recognize that the mission of the National Park Service is preservation, caring for these majestic acres is paramount to the enjoyment of those next to us and those who make the journey in the future. With elevations from 7,860 feet to 14,259 feet, Rocky Mountain makes you feel like you're on top of the world.