Posts Tagged ‘visitor center’

Snowy Range Scenic Byway

Leaving Lake Marie and Medicine Bow Peak behind
on an early June Byway drive.

The Centennial, Wyo., visitor center is a one-stop shop for anything forest-related a visitor traveling the Snowy Range Scenic Byway might need — permits, maps, books, information, even souvenirs.

The center, sitting on the eastern boundary of the Medicine Bow National Forest near Centennial, used to be a decades-old trailer. After two summers of construction, the trailer is gone and a brand new building is set to be open by this winter.

The 1,100-square-foot building will feature an open central room with tall south-facing windows. Forest service personnel will be stationed behind a counter that lines the western wall.

“It’ll be big enough to accommodate a good amount of guests. We’re hoping to use it as an education area,” Aaron Voos, a public affairs official for the forest service, said.

Outside, the parking area was repaved, and a walking path will lead down the hill behind the building.

The visitor center will be open seasonally to coincide with the opening of the highway — generally from May through October. It will also be open in the winter so forest visitors may purchase Christmas tree permits on their way up to the mountains to cut one down.

The new visitor center might be the most noticeable change on the forest, but it’s just one piece in a series of projects along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway.

The other big project was the paving of the first half-mile of Sand Lake Road, which was completed in early August. The road, Forest Road 101, offers access to the northern part of the forest as well as the North Fork Campground. A number of dispersed camping spots near the highway are heavily used by campers with trailers.

A smooth layer of asphalt now covers what used to be a rutted dirt road that climbed north from the highway a few miles west of Centennial. Voos said the popular road was impossible to keep smooth.

“We would grade it, and a week later it would be right back to the rutted condition it was in before we graded it,” he said.

Other scenic byway improvement projects, some of which are still ongoing, include paving the trail between Lake Marie and Mirror Lake, fixing damage on Barber Lake Road caused by flooding, and adding new signage along the highway.

The $2.8 million project was funded with help from a grant from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, which used money from the Federal Highways National Scenic Byway Program.

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Tips for Visitors:

  • The minimum driving time along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway is approximately one hour. Allow additional time to enjoy the many scenic features the Byway offers.
  • The Snowy Range Scenic Byway is open from late May until closed by snow again in mid-November.
  • This route traverses one of Wyoming’s famous mountain ranges. Road grades do not exceed 6.5%.
  • Wyoming Highway 130 is a modern, two-lane road and has a number of turnouts, picnic areas, and scenic views.
  • Vehicles tuned for sea level may not perform as well at higher mountain elevations. Be prepared to pull over to allow faster traffic to pass if necessary.
Boating at Bonny Lake Wildlife Area Colorado

Boating at Bonny Lake Wildlife Area Colorado

Across the West during the past several years, beleaguered state park systems in Utah, Arizona, California and elsewhere  have made news as state governments have slashed budgets and threatened to permanently shutter some of their parks.

But Colorado’s state parks have taken a different path.

Since the state parks became part of the newly-created Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2011, three of four state parks slated for closure prior to the merger have remained open and there are no plans to shut them down. The fourth park, Bonny Lake near Burlington, became a state wildlife area and remains open to the public.

Despite losing more than $27 million in revenue during the previous year, including some federal money the state receives for managing federally-owned reservoirs, Colorado’s state park system closed out its 2012 fiscal year with a $4.2 million budget surplus, according to a CPW financial report released this week.

Full Story…

Bonny Lake is being managed as a State Wildlife Area and remains open to the public.  The Visitor Center and Camper Service buildings are closed and water and electric are not available.

Currently Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working with the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Yuma County Commissioners, the Three Rivers Alliance, Yuma County Economic Development Council and other community groups to determine the future of the former State Park.  The discussions include facilities and campgrounds that were previously managed by Colorado State Parks.  At present, Bonny Lake is being managed as part of the South Republican State Wildlife Area, a 13,000 acre management unit that offers deer, turkey, waterfowl and small game hunting.

Please check back for updates on any changes for the future management of Bonny Lake State Park or call the Southeast Regional Office in Colorado Springs at 719-227-5200.

The Arizona Department of Transportation will open state Highway 67 to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on May 15.

May 15 is the standard day each year when access to the park’s north rim opens, Public Affairs Specialist Shannan D. Marcak said.

While the park’s South Rim is open year-round, the North Rim closes during the winter because of the local climate. The North Rim lies at the southern end of the Kaibab Plateau at approximately 8,500 feet in elevation.

In 2009, the park’s North Rim received 301,810 visitors, an increase of nearly 5 percent over 2008 but nowhere near the more than 3 million visitors who traveled to the South Rim.

The parks service doesn’t project how many visitors will travel to the North Rim this year, but said a televised documentary on the nation’s parks by filmmaker Ken Burns, as well as President Barack Obama’s promotion of the parks, has renewed many people’s interest.

A Grand Canyon National Park news release said concessioner facilities at the North Rim’s Grand Canyon Lodge will open at 10 a.m. on the May 15, with the exception of the dining room, which will open at 11:30 a.m. for lunch.

Lodge check-in will begin at 4 p.m.

Services provided by the Park Service, including the visitor center and campground, will be open by 8 a.m. Mule trail rides will be open as of 7:30 a.m., Marcak said.

The first scheduled ranger program, “Grand Canyon Geology,” will be at 3 p.m., the news release stated.

The last day for most concession services and ranger programs will be Oct. 15, but the visitors center and other Park Service operations will continue until Nov. 28 unless snow closes Highway 67 before that date.

Advance reservations for the North Rim Campground must be made by calling
(877) 444-6777 or online at http://www.recreation.gov
Full Story…
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