• by kathy
  • · June 20, 2019

Naturalist Training Inspires Shadowcliff Staff

Our staff recently participated in a Naturalist Training with former Park Ranger Gail Spinden where they dove head first into Grand Lake’s history, flora and fauna, and expansive trail systems. Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge is nestled in the mountains just to the west of Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, there are two trail heads located within a five minute walk from the Shadowcliff steps.

The goal of the workshop was to provide a hands-on engaging experience for the staff of Shadowcliff, most of whom are not Colorado natives, so that they could share what they learned with guests and be more acquainted with the area for their own benefit. Every participant had a wonderful time exploring the area. Sam, one of the rotational staff members said, “The training was my single favorite experience here so far.” Shadowcliff is such a unique place in so many ways, and this workshop was an opportunity for our staff to see the big picture of where Shadowcliff sits in the whole of the Rocky Mountains.

Gail and her co-leader Aaren, an active State Park Ranger, led the team through several of the trails winding through Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the way the group stopped to admire and identify native plants and animals that call these mountains their home. They collected several specimens from the Shadowcliff property and pressed the leaves to create a specimen collection for everyone to enjoy.

Group hikes were the staff’s favorite part of the training. They hiked along the North Inlet, Tonahutu, East Inlet, and the Colorado River Corridor. "I loved being taken up to the snow capped summit because I hadn't seen the land from that perspective. I appreciated learning about the plants and animals in the area. And it was interesting to be shown the history and value of Grand Lake,” said Lindsey, a Shadowcliff rotational staff member.

After the training, all of us gained a better understanding of these mountains and the plants and animals that reside here. There is so much majesty in this place. And each dawn is a new opportunity to discover why visitors have been drawn to these valleys and peaks for so many generations.