How good is your memory? If you lived in Rifle and/or came out to Rifle Gap in the summer of 1994, you may remember Robin Hendricks, seasonal ranger then and now. Robin's hometown is Rifle, and she graduated from Rifle High School in the early '80s. She calls Denver home now and by profession is security for a Denver metro school district. I asked Robin why she decided to return to Rifle Gap as seasonal ranger. Robin is an advocate of outdoor recreation, yet wants to enforce the regulations and statutes of Colorado Parks and Wildlife for preservation and management of the resources. Robin also is able to hang out with family who live in the area during her seasonal position. Robin said the best part of her job is being outside, educating and interacting with park visitors. She also enjoys getting on the water and the beauty of the three parks. Robin recommends the Rifle Arch hike as a "hidden treasure." She told me a local Boy Scout troop created and maintains the trail. It is a great hike with a great view of the surrounding area from the arch. Robin also recommends Rifle Mountain Park with the beautiful, narrow canyon and creek. There is great hiking, and if you need to cool off, it's cooler. If you like to use ATVs, she recommends the JQS Trail off Colorado Highway 13, north of Rifle. Star party 2.0What do "Dark Side of the Moon" (by Pink Floyd) and "Dancin' In The Moonlight" (by King Harvest) have in common? Why, of course, potential creative titles for our second stay party for 2012 as part of our interpretive programming. For the past several summers since 2008 at Rifle Gap State Park, the Western Colorado Astronomy Club, based in Grand Junction, has been a special guest. The nonprofit club was founded in 1989 to help provide astronomy education. Members have a wide range of skill levels from beginner to advanced. Club activities include observing, astrophotography, telescope making, and discussion and lectures related to astronomy. The club has been an invaluable resource to our Colorado Parks and Wildlife system since April 8, 1990, when Highline State Park hosted its first star party with the club. Former President Dave Copley says the club is a group of dedicated amateur astronomers "who love to share our hobby with anyone." Most star parties are open to the public and are sometimes held in conjunction with elementary and middle schools in the Grand Junction and surrounding area. Some club members are up on the modern theories of astronomy, and they all love to let people look through their telescopes and explain there is more out there than just the clouds and the moon. Depending on the club members' availability, they will bring a variety of telescopes to view our planets and stars. The equipment ranges from a 30-year-old, 3-inch refractor that probably cost less than $100, to a 12-inch reflector that cost around $5,000. Tom Burrows is a club member who brings a 6-inch refractor, Copley brings a 10-inch Newtonian reflector, and Rick Smith brings a 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. These incredible telescopes allow park visitors to view the planets, star clusters, nebulas and galaxies. Club members often keep telescopes up late into the night, if the sky is great for viewing, and campers are interested in continuing to gaze at the night sky well past the scheduled program time period. Rifle Gap State Park Complex looks forward to hosting the second star party of the season for campers and anyone else who wants to come out for the evening and enjoy the night sky. For more information about the program and location at Rifle Gap, give me a call. Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls and Harvey Gap are managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, created with the merger of Colorado State Parks and Division of Wildlife. The agency manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado's wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs. For more, go online to www.parks.state.co.us and http://wildlife.state.co.us.Terry Wise is the summer season park naturalist and volunteer coordinator for the Rifle Gap State Park Complex. Reach her at 625-1607.
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