Words by Smiley Team
The Rocky Mountain National Park is 415 square miles of wilderness in the middle of the United States. In 2021 over 4 million people visited the park.
The park is known for its endless mountain ranges and peaks as well as the nature and wildlife throughout, and thanks to the donation of a former astronaut the park just got a little bigger.
On September 12 the park grew by 40 acres after a donation made by Vance Brand and his family back in 2019.
“To me the park is a wonderful place that must be preserved – and where possible expanded," Brand said. “The numerous hiking, camping, and (non-technical) mountain climbing experiences that I had there in my youth led me to purchase land along Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern boundary in 1967. Over time my family has developed an appreciation of the natural beauty of the land and have encouraged keeping it as it is.”
The donated area is along the eastern border of the park and will provide a buffer for the park's high-elevation ecosystem, and a scenic connection between public and private land.
“I’m thankful that there were early national park enthusiasts like Enos Mills and Teddy Roosevelt who had the foresight to encourage establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park and our entire national park system,” Brand said. “The National Park Service does a terrific job of maintaining our national parks. In short, my family and I sincerely hope that this donation to the national park will keep the land in its natural state for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations of Americans.”
Brand served in the Marine Corps as an officer. He was an aviator, a test pilot, an aeronautical engineer, and an astronaut. According to park officials, Brand served as a command module pilot during the first U.S.-Soviet joint spaceflight in 1975 and as commander of three Space Shuttle missions.
DONATE: If you want to support the park you can donate to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy which helps maintain the park and helps educate people about nature and wildlife.
SUPPORT: Go to your parks. Appreciate the nature there, and when you do consider picking up litter to help clean up the trails.