Valley of the Coyote

Welcome back, readers!  I have officially been here at Rocky Mountain National Park for just under a month and I can confidently say that I have become quite acquainted and fond of the great outdoors.  Here on the west side of the park, we oversee the whole Kawuneeche Valley, which means “Valley of the Coyote” in the Arapaho language, one of ten Native American tribes that were the original settlers of this land that we now know today as Rocky Mountain.  Some noticeable features upon visiting the west side include the Grand Ditch which is a water diversion canal created from the 1890s-1930s which traverses the water runoff from the Never Summer Mountains and into the Continental Divide through La Poudre Pass which prevents flooding of the valley itself. 

Green Mountain Trail which fell victim to the East Troublesome Fire of 2020

Mistaken as the park’s mascot/ featured animal, Moose have actually overpopulated and have had significant breeding populations which has since caused harmful effects, most particularly with the decline in six willow species as a result of their summer diet.  The willow have not been able to sustain its growth communities which is extremely crucial for the rest of this ecosystem as it negatively affects our North American beaver population which has led to just one lonely beaver on the west side of the park.  Despite their small size, the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle in recent years have devastated and killed off many trees on the west side.  This is because infestations of these beetle populations wreak havoc by burrowing beneath tree bark and killing the host which were primarily lodgepole pine.  This played a big part in recent years as the East Troublesome Fire back in 2020, which was the 2nd largest wildfire in Colorado history, was heavily in reason to so many dead trees that were killed by beetles prior which made them vulnerable to drier/hot weather conditions which caused them to be easily engulfed in flames that burned over 200,000 acres. 

Holzwarth Historic Site cabins constructed back in 1917 by John Holzwarth

The west side of the park is also home to the only historical site throughout all of Rocky Mountain which is Holzwarth Historic Site.  Built in 1917, John, Sofia, and Johnnie Holzwarth took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 to start their new lives after immigrating from Germany; their story just like many others, as it serves a perfect representation and reminder about the hardships of the original homesteaders and how they dealt with major changes and yet left their legacy  through the cabins hundreds of guests walk through everyday. 

View of the alpine tundra from Trail Ridge Road reaching over 11,000 ft in elevation

In order to see all these sights along with getting from the west side of the park to the east side, you would have to drive through Trail Ridge Road , which is the highest continuous paved road in North America that was completed in 1932..  Nicknamed the “Highway to the Sky”, this 48-mile road twists and turns through the surrounding ecosystems that cap at 12,183 feet in elevation.  Trail Ridge Road remains closed for most of the year until efforts begin in mid-April to start plowing the snow out of the road to get Rocky Mountain ready for the summer season until the end of Fall.  Until next time, readers!

Reuniting with Prineet, the Fish & Feathers intern that works on the east side of Rocky Mountain after driving through Trail Ridge Road
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