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Destinations Editor's Notebook

An In-Depth Look at Rocky Mountain National Park

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  September 17th, 2011 6

A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park by Steven B. Schweitzer. Pixachrome Publishing, 2011, 256 color pages, $29.95, softcover. ISBN: 978-0-9844123-0-3.

A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park
When I lived on Fort Collins it was widely known on the “interwebs” that Steve Schweitzer was the backcountry guru of Colorado’s high-altitude lakes. If fact, I tried to persuade him to write a magazine article on fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), but he didn’t want to draw undo attention to a handful of lakes. A decade later he has self-published the ultimate fishing manual for the park’s varied waters: A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s taken me a decade to visit just a fraction of the park’s fishable waters—based on the depth and breadth of Schweitzer’s coverage, it looks as though he’s personally fished every corner of the park, an incredible feat considering the difficulty of accessing some of the remote corners of the park.

I’ve gazed out from the heights of Trail Ridge Road and scouted Arrowhead Lake and its neighbors from afar, but Schweitzer has actually done the footwork, and given me a detailed map to get there next year. His detailed topo map tells me it’s a 6.63-mile hike, climbing 2,292 feet on the way up over the Continental Divide, then descending 1,830 feet into the Gorge Lakes. The book gives similar detailed fishing information on more than 150 such destinations, all with color photos and topo maps showing the trail in and out.

It’s the first book ever to give this kind of information on RMNP, the world’s best place to catch beautiful greenback cutthroat trout, and in my opinion the second best fly fishing national park in the country. Am I worried that this publicity will spoil the greatest charm of these lakes—the solitude? Nope. Places like Lily Lake got plenty of fishing pressure well before this book was ever conceived because it has big greenbacks cruising the shallows right beside a parking lot. However, places like Sky Pond, Crystal Lake, and Lawn Lake are reserved for a special breed of fly fisher, and there are thankfully damn few us us willing to put in the sweat equity required to catch small fish.

For this small group, Schweitzer’s book is not only required reading, it may save you the trouble of searching out barren lakes, it will save you from getting lost (we’ve all been there), and its wise and experienced advice on high-country hiking and fishing may even save a life. For everyone else, the book has beautiful photography and can show you incredible Colorado treasures you may never see firsthand.

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