Writer salutes national park's 100th birthday

Castle Rock woman has strong ties to state's jewel

Nature writer Mary Taylor Young of Castle Rock will appear at Eloise May and Koelbel Libraries in the Arapahoe Library District to introduce her new “Rocky Mountain National Park: the First Hundred Years” in June. Courtesy photo
“Rocky Mountain National Park: the First Hundred Years” celebrates the par’s 1915 opening and its story over a century. Courtesy photo
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As a young child, Mary Taylor Young of Castle Rock spent stretches of the summer at her grandparents' cabin in Rocky Mountain National Park — back when private cabins were permitted. She watched animals and birds among the trees and undergrowth, learned the names of flowers and rocks — and the rhythms of those splendid surroundings. Her future was set.

The author of 15 books about Colorado, Young has recently published a handsome coffee-table book: “Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years,” which she will present to readers at two Arapahoe Library District branches during June. From 11:30 am to 12:30 p.m. on June 13, she will be at Eloise May Library, 1471 S. Parker Road (Parker Road and Florida Avenue), and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 25, she will repeat her program at Koelbel Library, 5955 S. Holly St. in Centennial.

She spent two weeks in 2012 as the park's artist-in-residence, researching and writing in the historic William Allen White cabin in Moraine Park, and has taught nature-writing classes and been involved with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association.

She tells the story of Rocky Mountain National Park from not only 100 years ago, but a billion years ago — and stretches into the future.

Ute and Arapaho hunted game, trappers and explorers followed a call and settlers moved into the Estes Park area and discovered that they needed to attract tourists. Enos Mills, Joel and Patsy Estes and Abner and Alberta Sprague were among them.

Roads were engineered and constructed and visitors came by the thousands. Recent concerns are that the park might be “loved to death.”

The book contains more than 250 historical and landscape photographs, including images by photographers William Henry Jackson, John Fielder and Erik Stensland and paintings by Charles Partridge Adams and Birger Sandzen.

Actual centennial celebrations for the park are scheduled starting this September and concluding a year later in Estes Park, in Rocky Mountain National Park itself and in Grand Lake. A lengthy list of activities is available online — and it cautions that this is a work in progress and will grow considerably, with special hikes, wildlife studies, and art events such as plein air painters “paint-out” and show at the Fall River Visitors Center.

Young is scheduled to speak about her book at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side of the park and at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Auditorium on the east side. See www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/events.htm.