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Rocky Mountain National Park is located west of Estes Park and north and east of Grand Lake. This is a fee area of the National Park Service, and costs $30 per vehicle. This fee is covered in the Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass, the Rocky Mountain National Park/Arapaho National Recreation Area Annual Pass, and the America the Beautiful Pass. Please see the following website (visit link) for the entire fee schedule. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Road and Trail Conditions and Closures can be found at: (visit link) Recorded information for the condition of Trail Ridge Road can be found by calling (970) 586-1222. Please remember that all geologic features within the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park are protected by law, as are all natural and historic features. Please do not disturb, damage, or remove any rocks, plants, or animals.
To the southwest of this parking area is Moraine Park, which was once the melting basin of Thompson Glacier. The great hill running east-west in front of you is the southern lateral moraine from this glacier. Lateral moraines are formed at the sides of a glacier from material which has been picked up, carried along, and deposited at the sides of the moving ice when the ice recedes. The glacier advanced until about 18,000 years ago, and at the point of farthest advance, formed the terminal moraine to your left.
Features which show the glacial formation of this valley include the shape of the valley, which is the typical “U” of a glacial valley, and the small bedrock knob in the center of the valley. This knob has been scraped smooth by the glacier passing over it.
To log this EarthCache, send me an email with the answers to these questions:
1.) What is the knob in the center of the valley called?
2.) Estimate the height of the South Lateral Moraine.
3.) Estimate the width of the bottom of Thompson Glacier in Moraine Park.
Please consider posting photos of yourself, or the local geology, when you log this EarthCache. Photos can be an additional rewarding part of your journey, but posting them is not a requirement for logging this EarthCache, and is strictly optional.
The above information was compiled from the following sources:
Informational Sign at Site.
Colorado Geological Survey. 2003. Messages in Stone. Matthews et al., editors. Denver, Colorado.
Raup, O.B. 2005. Geology Along Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado: A Self-Guided Tour for Motorists.
2004. Rocky Mountain National Park. In Harris, A.G. et al., editors. Geology of National Parks, Sixth Ed. P. 337-356. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Rocky Mountain National Park. Online at: (visit link)
Rocky Mountain National Park was most helpful in the background discussion, aid in the choosing of sites, and review of this EarthCache. My thanks to the Park for allowing the placement of this EarthCache!
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum