Rocky Mountain National Park celebrates 40-acre land donation from former astronaut Vance Brand

Vance Brand and family, Rocky Mountain National Park Superintendent Darla Sidles, Rocky Mountain Conservancy Executive Director Estee Rivera and Rocky Mountain Conservancy board members celebrate the Brand Family's donation of a 40-acre parcel of land to the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Courtesy Photo

This week, Rocky Mountain National Park expanded its boundaries. On Sept. 12, former Astronaut Vance Brand, his family, Rocky Mountain National Park and Rocky Mountain Conservancy officials celebrated the donation of the Brands’ 40-acre parcel of land to Rocky Mountain National Park. 

The family donated the land to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the nonprofit partner to Rocky in 2019. In January 2021, Congress authorized the inclusion of the 40-acre parcel into the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. This bipartisan bill was introduced in 2020, by Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Joe Neguse and former Sen. Cory Gardner. Located adjacent to the eastern boundary of the park, the property will enable the park to provide additional protection for the park’s high-elevation ecosystem. This parcel is a scenic, natural buffer between private lands and three popular trails: Estes Cone, Storm Pass and Eugenia Mine. 

Brand was born and raised in Longmont and attended college at University of Colorado and UCLA. He went on to become a Marine Corps officer, aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer and astronaut. He served as a command module pilot during the first U.S.-Soviet joint spaceflight in 1975 and commander of three Space Shuttle missions. 

Brand said he was excited for the opportunity to help further the mission of the park.

“To me the park is a wonderful place that must be preserved — and where possible expanded,” Brand said. “The numerous hiking, camping, and mountain climbing experiences that I had there in my youth led me to purchase land along Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern boundary in 1967. Over time, my family has developed an appreciation of the natural beauty of the land and have encouraged keeping it as it is. 

“I’m thankful that there were early national park enthusiasts like Enos Mills and Teddy Roosevelt who had the foresight to encourage establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park and our entire national park system. The National Park Service does a terrific job of maintaining our national parks. In short, my family and I sincerely hope that this donation to the national park will keep the land in its natural state for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations of Americans.” 

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