Rocky Mountain National Park celebrates centennial

Rocky Mountain National Park

Flickr, Dave Soldano

The celebration begins Sept. 3, 2014.

Rocky Mountain National Park will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the park's protection for the next year, through Sept. 4, 2015.

It was recreationists who worked to protect this incredible area as a national park in 1915. The first president of the Colorado Mountain Club, Denver lawyer James Grafton Rodgers, began lobbying for the area to be designated as a national park in 1907.

The Department of Interior needed a map with named peaks to provide to Congress for the park's designation. So two female members of the club, Harriet Vaille and Edna Hendrie, traveled to a Wyoming reservation to invite two Arapaho elders and an interpreter back to Colorado. These Arapaho men joined the July 1914 Toll Expedition on a two-week horseback trip through backcountry to locate 24 peaks named by the Arapahoe natives. Today there are over 125 named peaks.

Pictured above at the September 4, 1915 dedication ceremony (from left to right): Governor George Carlson, Mrs. John D. Sherman of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, Congressman Ed Taylor, entrepreneur F. O. Stanley, naturalist Enos Mills, and national park publicist (and Wilderness Society co-founder) Robert Sterling Yard. (photo: NPS)

Watch the video below for glimpses of this magnificent park:

A kick-off ceremony will be held on Sept. 3, featuring speakers and activities for the public. Another event will be held the following day at the Holzwarth Historic Site.

There are numerous events and opportunities for celebrating Rocky Mountain's centennial throughout the year, including:

  • Ranger programs offered in the park all year
  • Seminars and field classes offered by Rocky Mountain Conservancy
  • Climbs, hikes and snowshoe adventures with the Colorado Mountain Club, a key player in the park's protection
  • Hikes led by YMCA of the Rockies, who's been taking visitors through the backcountry since the park's creation
  • Exhibits at the Estes Park Museum
  • Walking tours and geocache treasure hunts at Grand Lake Chamber and Visitor Center
  • Holiday celebrations in Grand Lake, including for Halloween, Christmas and New Year's

Sept. 3 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, but it was only five years ago that 94% of Rocky Mountain National Park was protected as wilderness.

Help us protect more wild lands in the next centennial!