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Wildfire

Much of Rocky Mountain National Park reopens after East Troublesome fire

The fire's explosive growth led to the evacuation of the Grand Lake and the Estes Park areas

New polling shows deep public concern over protecting lands from climate change and wildfires like the East Troublesome fire, the second largest in Colorado history, which burned through Rocky Mountain National Park in 2020. (Handout from Rocky Mountain National Park)

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — Many areas of Rocky Mountain National Park reopened Friday after being closed for two weeks after a massive wildfire spread into the park.

The west side of the park, where the East Troublesome Fire burned after making a big run in extremely dry conditions on Oct. 21, will remain closed because of the damage caused by the fire and ongoing safety assessments, park spokesperson Kyle Patterson said. Some areas on the eastern side of the park are also remained closed so park staff can check them for any fire activity and downed trees.

MORE: “Worse than anything you could have imagined”: How the East Troublesome fire became so destructive

The fire’s explosive growth led to the evacuation of the Grand Lake and the Estes Park areas.

A park spokeswoman, Kyle Patterson, said the East Troublesome fire burned nearly 30,000 acres within Rocky Mountain National Park’s boundary. A number of structures were lost, including:

  • The Trails and Tack Barn
  • The Grand Lake entrance station office
  • The historic Onahu Lodge and Green Mountain cabins
  • The Harbison Meadows vault toilet facility
  • The 4 bay garage structure at Trail River Ranch
The destroyed Grand Lake entrance station office. (Rocky Mountain National Park)

“It pains our hearts to see the loss of cherished structures like the Green Mountain cabins and Onahu Lodge, located along Trail Ridge Road in the Kawuneeche Valley,” park superintendent Darla Sidles said in a written statement. “Both were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for their rustic design and association with early 20th century development of ranching and resort industries. But more importantly they represented an important part of our shared history and culture and were cherished landmarks.  They were also where many of our seasonal staff were housed.”    

The fire, the second-largest in Colorado history, destroyed more than 300 homes and between 100 and 200 secondary structures including barns and garages. It has burned about 303 square miles (784 square kilometers) but has not significantly grown since a storm dropped snow across the area on Oct. 25.