Colorado blue columbine
In 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park was established in north-central Colorado to preserve one of the most scenic stretches of the southern Rocky Mountains and to protect the alpine tundra that encompasses one-third of the park. Approximately three million people visit the park annually. Elevations range from 7,700 feet in the montane ecosystem to the summit of Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. These different elevations and ecosystems have marked differences in wildlife and vegetation. The Continental Divide traverses the park, also delineating species and ecosystems between the generally drier east slope and wetter west slope. In summer, many visitors drive 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in America that reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet. With over 355 miles of trails, the park is a favorite destination year-round. Sightseeing and wildlife watching are also very popular. Over 900 native and over 100 non-native vascular plant
species are found in the park.