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Burned, beautiful Rocky

Nearly two years after the East Troublesome Fire ravaged parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, some could say the park is more beautiful than ever.
Tracy Ross/Sky-Hi News

It’s been nearly two years since the East Troublesome Fire tore through Rocky Mountain National Park, burning some 29,000 acres and reportedly impacting 54 of the park’s 350 miles of trails. Some wondered if hiking in “Rocky” would ever be the same again. As of July 20, on the Tonahutu Trail, it isn’t. But one could say that the new life, emerging in the form of bright, beautiful wildflowers and lush green grasses, coupled with the stark reminder of how destruction can come at any moment, makes a walk in the park better now than ever.

These pictures were taken along a 3-mile stretch of trail starting at the Tonahutu trailhead near the Cliffside Mountain Lodge in Grand Lake.

Park staff are adjusting the trail status of the Upper Tonahutu Creek Trail.



The trail from the junction of Onahu Trail at Tonahutu to Flattop Mountain is closed for ongoing evaluation. The Green Mountain/Onahu Trail loop will remain open to hikers.

On the west side of the park, the Sun Valley and River Trail and the Lower Tonahutu Trail (between Big Meadows and the KVC Turkey Spur Trail) is closed to all users. In the northwest area of the park, the Mirror Lake area trail system closed, while on the east side of the park, the Spruce Lake Trail is closed.



The park advises visitors to be aware of additional hazards when recreating in burn areas including:

Burned-out stump holes where the ground may be weak and unstable
Unstable dead trees, especially in windy conditions
Loose rocks, logs and rolling debris
Flash flooding and significant debris flow possible in burn areas
Dry, hot conditions with little forest canopy to provide shade


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