Hiking Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park At Night
It is awe-inspiring, it is cool, it is less crowded and remarkably beautiful in the wild after dark. And when proper precautions are taken it can be safe and educational as well. In today's modern world, very rarely are we in complete darkness. We go from our lit houses to our lit cars and drive to places that are lit. Our sense of sight gives us our feeling for the world around us.
When hiking at night, knowledge of the terrain, water-resistant footwear (ankle-high at least), a warm coat, a flashlight and bug spray are a must, as well as a healthy understanding of what's out there. Hikers might encounter a multitude of critters on the trail, from weasels to moose; beaver to bats; porcupine, sapsuckers, snipe, chipmunks and, rarely, mountain lions and bears.
Night hikes are magnificent when the moon is full and the sky is clear, but even hikers familiar with the area can take a bad step on uneven terrain and turn an ankle. Organized hikes are the way to go. In fact, if you're not going on an organized hike with a ranger or qualified guide, the park service prefers you not go. It's one thing to do it with a ranger, who has a radio with them and is aware of the potential dangers, but there are mountain lions, or you could end up lost on an unknown trail.
There is no way that I can stress enough how you should never ever ever even remotely consider going out on one of these mountain trails at night by yourself. Just to list the more salient dangers that you could encounter on a lonely forest or mountain trail would overflow Hubpages' servers. It's an incredibly stupid, idiotic, moronic, foolish, and utterly juvenile risk to take with your life, so don't even think about it!
If you plan on doing any hiking at night (and of course in the company of a park ranger and plenty of equipment), be sure to bring the following:
- Flashlight or headlamp, with plenty of batteries - 10 to 12 hours worth if you're not on an organized hike.
- Layers of clothing, including a warm coat and water-resistant coverings. It cools off dramatically after the sun goes down. It may start off clear at 9 p.m., but it could be driving rain at midnight.
- Sturdy shoes or hiking books that will repel water and are at least ankle high. It's damp in them-there hills.
- A backpack to hold water, snacks and extra clothing and gear.
- Bug spray - the mosquitoes are thriving.
- Binoculars, not for survival, just for fun.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers something for everyone: from children's activities to horseback riding to climbing for all level of expertise. Trails are well marked and plentiful, camping is easily accessible from the roads. Many park facilities are accessible for disabled visitors. Sprague Lake Camp, located at Sprague Lake, is specially designed for people with disabilities and will accommodate 12 campers with up to six wheelchairs.
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