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Science Behind Climate Change & Pikas: The Cute Curators of The Alpine


September 13
9:30 am
Partner Locations


Join Walking Mountains Science Center & the Front Range Pika Proect on an educational hike to Half Moon Pass in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Observe American Pika in their natural habitat, learn how climate change may impact pika and the greater alpine ecosystem, and contribute to pika research through citizen science!

Scientists anticipate that climate change may shrink snowpack, change the timing of snowmelt, dry out vegetation, and increase the risk of wildlfire in Colorado’s alpine ecosystems. These changes may spell trouble for pikas and other alpine wildlife. Pika are small, rabbit-like mammals that are both adorable and tough. They have adaptations that make it possible for them to thrive in the harsh winter conditions in Colorado’s mountains. However, these traits also make pika vulnerable to a warming climate. By studying these cute critters, scientistis, with the help of community volunteers, are starting to understand how Colorado’s most rugged and unique environment may change alongside our climate in the coming decades.

Transportation: This is a free program that starts and ends at the Half Moon trailhead. Transportation is available for $10, and leaves Walking Mountains in Avon at 8:30am

Hike Description:
The hike to Half Moon Pass is the first leg of a journey to the Mount of the Holy Cross, Eagle County’s only 14er! This moderate hike will take you 2 miles (4 miles round trip) and 1,200 vertical feet to Half Moon Pass at 11,600 ft where you will be met with expansive views of the Gore Range and the Eagle River Valley, as well as an up close view Mt. of the Holy Cross’ dramatic north face.

The program will begin at 9:30am at the Half Moon Trailhead, and end back at the trailhead around 2:30-3 pm. Van transportation is available for 6 participants from Walking Mountains Science Center at 8:30am. The Half Moon Trailhead is located at the end of the Tigiwon Road near Minturn, and is a 45-60min drive from Vail on a dirt road.

About Megan Mueller
Megan Mueller is a Senior Conservation Biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild (RMW), and the co-director of the Front Range Pika Project (FRPP), a citizen science initiative that engages the public in field research on the effects of climate change on American pika. Megan has been studying American pika since 2010. She has a B.A. in biology from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, and more than ten years of experience leading wildlife conservation programs for Rocky Mountain Wild, a Denver based non-profit organization. For more information on Rocky Mountain Wild & The Front Range Pika Project visit www.rockymountainwild.org