Rocky Mountain National Park
The First 100 Years

by Mary Taylor Young

foreword by U.S. Senator Mark Udall

in partnership with Rocky Mountain Nature Association

  • Celebrate Rocky’s centennial with Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. Award-winning author Mary Taylor Young tells a story that stretches from the dawn of time into the future. Journey back to witness the rise, fall, and rise again of mountains. Meet ancient people who built rock game drives still visible atop Trail Ridge, and Utes and Arapaho who left behind only their names for many Park features. Discover explorers lured by the mountains’ call, and adventurers consumed with conquering Longs Peak’s soaring summit. Find out why life in the Park’s lush valleys forced settlers like Joel and Patsey Estes and Abner and Alberta Sprague to turn from ranching to tourism. And how a young man named Enos Mills became a passionate advocate for this mountain wonderland and devoted his life to preserving it as a national park. Meet engineers sculpting Trail Ridge Road and CCC crews building trails, intrepid rangers rescuing lost hikers and researchers preserving the fragile tundra. Learn how the Park’s elk were nearly wiped out, then restored to become one of America’s premier wildlife sights. Relive the visits of millions of Americans, blessed with “money, kids, and cars,” who flocked to this beloved national park through the 20th century, forming lifelong attachments to this special place. Discover how a changing climate may greatly alter Rocky in its next 100 years. Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years braids these stories and more into one grand tale, exquisitely illustrated with more than 250 historical and landscape images, including photographs by William Henry Jackson, John Fielder, and Erik Stensland, and paintings by Charles Partridge Adams and Birger Sandzén.

176 pages, 10.5 x 12, 106 b/w photos, 149 color photos, 9 illustrations, 1 map(s), index

ISBN 10: 1-56037-567-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-56037-567-8

January 2014





Rocky Mountain National Park
The First 100 Years

"Important milestone events deserve celebration. This is certainly true of the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), which was formally dedicated on September 3, 1915. Centennial events are scheduled to begin later this year and continue on into next. Mary Taylor Young's Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years, published by Farcountry Press in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy (formerly the Rocky Mountain Nature Association), provides a most appropriate context for the retrospective that is to follow.

Books tend to be shaped by the audience for whom they are intended. Taylor's intended audience is the three million plus people who visit RMNP each summer, and the millions more who over the years have developed a personal relationship with one of America's most visited national parks and would like to know more. They will not be disappointed. Mary Taylor Young, who has authored some fifteen books on the landscape, wildlife, and cultural heritage of Colorado and the West, and in 2012 spent a memorable two weeks living in the William Allen White Cabin as Artist-in-Residence, is a most able and amiable guide. In thirteen topical chapters she provides a comprehensive, fact-filled overview of the park and its history.

Young begins with the park's geologic story and its prehistory, for we now know from the gathered evidence that ice-age hunters visited the area at least 11,000 years ago. From there she traces the park's human history through Arapaho times to its first Euro-American visitors, including Joel Estes, an inveterate wanderer from Kentucky, who first visited the Estes Valley in October of 1859 and then gave the place his name. Other chapters deal with the rise of tourism, the hard-fought six-year campaign that led to the park's creation and the influential role that the automobile played in its early development, and the ups and downs of the Depression and World War II years. The final chapters bring the park's story down to the present, including a discussion of the issues and challenges, ecological and otherwise, which the park faces today and will face tomorrow. In the process we learn a great deal about the men and women who shaped the park's history, some well known but others not. A number of these are neatly dealt with in set-off sidebar cameos. Taylor is an engaging writer and the book's narrative flow is flawless, a real achievement in a book that tells so much in so few pages.

The book itself is visually stunning. Its text is supplemented by some 250 illustrations, including historic black-and-white photographs by William Henry Jackson, Willis T. Lee, and Fred Clatworthy; full-page color contemporary photographs by Erik Stensland, John Fielder, Glenn Randall, Lee Kline, and Steve Mohlenkamp; and color reproductions of the work of landscape artists Charles Partridge Adams, Birger Sandzen, and Dave Stirling, to cite but a few...."

-James H. Pickering, professor of English emeritus, University of Houston, writing for the Center for Colorado and the West at Auria Library's Colorado Book Review

Award-winning writer Mary Taylor Young is the author of 15 books on the landscape, wildlife, and cultural heritage of Colorado and the West, including Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey and The Guide to Colorado Mammals. She spent many childhood summers at her family’s cabin bordering Rocky Mountain National Park. Her love of nature led to a degree in zoology from Colorado State University. Young has taught seminars for the Rocky Mountain Nature Association every summer since 1988. She was also a recent Artist-In-Residence at Rocky.

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