Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
In 2016, National Park Trust joined with Rocky Mountain Conservancy, The Wilderness Land Trust, and local funders to purchase a 12.5-acre property that was up for sale only the second time in the previous seventy years. With a 2,000 square foot house perched on a rocky overlook and easy motorized access, the demand for the private property within Wild Basin would have been great. It was the largest privately-held, developed parcel in that area of the Park. The removal of the house and access drive through the park and addition of the parcel to the Park will enable the Park to formally add 33 acres to the federally designated Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Area.
The land is in Wild Basin is about a mile from the park boundary just north of Allenspark, Boulder County. Longs Peak and Mount Meeker tower over the property to the north. Camper Creek cascades through the property and numerous springs create watering areas for wildlife between the large boulders. The two-story structure was visible from many points in Wild Basin, including a picnic area on the St. Vrain River, which flows through a corner of the property below the house.
The partners removed the building in a manner that allowed much of its material to be recycled. They worked with the National Park Service to convert the access drive to a hiking trail, allowing hikers to enjoy a relatively easy walk to the overlook. Read the press release here.
“Expanding the wilderness fulfills the purpose of the Wild Basin area. When the Rocky Mountain Conservancy called asking for help, we jumped at the opportunity to preserve the quiet recreation and wildlife habitat of Wild Basin. Ironically every funder and board member I showed the property to immediately wanted the site for themselves. That shows how spectacular this location is.”Reid Haughey, President of The Wilderness Land Trust
The idea of buying a property, then tearing a 1930s era house down wasn’t popular, so raising funds for purchase and deconstruction was difficult. That is when the National Park Trust and local funders joined the partnership to complete the deal.
“Our funding partner, The Barrett Family Foundation, has a special personal connection to Rocky Mountain National Park and they were delighted to help with this important project during the historic year of the National Park Service Centennial. The opportunity to purchase and protect threatened private property made it a perfect fit for the foundation.”Grace Lee, Executive Director of the National Park Trust
Project Years: 2016-2018
Parcel Size: 12.5 acres
Project Cost: $750,000
Long Term Significance of the Acquisition:
- The acreage transferred to the park has been added to the park’s federal wilderness, along with about 21 acres of parkland over which the entrance road to the property stretched.
- The removal of the house and sale to the NPS eliminates a “hole” in the wilderness and prevents any future development on the site.
Value to the Park and Public:
- The acquisition resulted in the NPS construction of an accessible trail from the property to the site of Black Kettle’s village, allowing those with limited mobility to reach it. The trail was not accessible before the purchase.
- Visitors have permanent access to the land and its scenic overlook. The surrounding wilderness is now free of visual disturbance and any possible noise from motor vehicles coming and going from the site.