Rocky: Before and After the 2020 Wildfire Season

January 28, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Before and After the 2020 Wildfire Season
in Rocky Mountain National Park


NEW VIDEO! Read through for link.

There is no question that 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult in U.S. history.  

But with everything that happened in that unprecedented year, my home state of Colorado experienced its worst year on record when it came to wildfires.

By the end of 2020, Colorado had seen its three largest fires in history:

  • Cameron Peak Fire: 208,663 acres
  • East Troublesome Fire: 192,560 acres
  • Pine Gulch Fire: 139,007 acres

At one point, my home town of Estes Park was ranked as the town or city with the worst air quality in the world during the height of the top two fires, which burned just a few miles to the north and west, respectively, of town. The entire town of Estes Park was also put on mandatory evacuation orders for the first time in history on October 22, 2020 because of the proximity of the growing East Troublesome Fire. East_troublesome_fire_2020_2East_troublesome_fire_2020_2A small group of elk feed on grasses at the Estes Valley Dog Park under an eerie sky and as traffic evacuates out of Estes Park due to the growth of the East Troublesome Fire.

In September 2020, I drove all of the roads in the park to capture time-lapse video on my GoPro Hero8 and window mount of my Toyota Tacoma. My goal was to document some of the best spots in the park for photography. I had no idea that some of these videos would capture landscapes that I will probably never again see in the same condition in my lifetime. 

In addition, this footage now gives me an opportunity to document the regrowth process from before the fires to a year, five years or maybe longer post 2020 wildfire season. 

Moose_RMNP_2019_9Moose_RMNP_2019_9A moose calf (Alces alces) stands up in thick, tall green grasses on the edge of a forest on a sunny day in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. In particular, I am interested in seeing how quickly the habitat returns, how it looks when it returns, and how the animals will adjust to the new habitat. 

Join me on the journey of Colorado's rebirth to healthy forests after the 2020 wildfire season.

Here is the first video of this series featuring a small section of the Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. 


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