9 Facts About Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park was officially dedicated on September 4, 1915, making it America's tenth and highest elevation national park. With a quarter of the land located above the tree line, the alpine wilderness of the Rockies draws 3 million visitors a year. Here are a few facts about the Colorado wonder.

1. AN ADVENTUROUS TEEN BECAME ONE OF THE PARK’S BIGGEST ADVOCATES.

Enos Mills is considered the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park.” Mills moved to Colorado on his own as a young teen in the 1880s and made himself right at home in the mountains, building a cabin in the Longs Peak Valley and ascending Longs Peakthe park’s highest point at 14,259 feetapproximately 300 times over the course of his life. His love of Colorado made him a devout advocate for the creation of the park, and he spoke and wrote at length to educate the public on nature preservation.

2. THE GREAT DIVIDE RUNS THROUGH THE LAND.

The 30 mile-long Continental Divide Scenic Trail is one of the park's biggest draws. It runs along sections of the actual Great Divide, the invisible border atop the Rocky Mountains that determines whether water runs east to the Atlantic or west to the Pacific. It splits the park into its eastern and western sections.

3. THE STORY OF A “MODERN EVE” EARNED THE PARK NATIONAL ATTENTION.

In 1917, the Denver Post documented the story of Agnes Lowe, a college student who was going to live in the park’s forests as a “modern Eve” for one week. Lowe, barefoot and dressed as a cavewoman, waved goodbye to a crowd of around 2000 people before she embarked on her wilderness adventure. Despite the national newspaper updates about Lowe’s escapades, the whole event was nothing more than a publicity stunt: Lowe actually spent most of the week at a lodge.

4. THE PARK'S HEADQUARTERS WAS INSPIRED BY A WORLD-FAMOUS ARCHITECT.

Tom Casey of Taliesin Architects and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture designed Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, which is the park's headquarters as well as a National Historic Landmark.

5. THE COUNTRY’S FIRST FEMALE NATURE GUIDES WERE TRAINED IN THE ROCKIES.

Esther and Elizabeth Burnell first visited the park’s Estes Park area in 1916. Noting their enthusiasm for their new surroundings, Enos Mills encouraged them to take nature guide training. When the sisters passed the examination, they became the first female naturalists certified by the National Park Service. The women were popular as nature guides and recorded many personal accomplishments. Elizabeth became the first woman guide on Longs Peak and ran the park’s trail school for over a decade. Esther homesteaded in Estes Park, snowshoed 30 miles across the Continental Divide, and married Enos Mills in 1918.

6. IT FEATURES THE HIGHEST CONTINUOUS PAVED ROAD IN THE COUNTRY.

Peaking at 12,183 feet (2 miles above sea level), Trail Ridge Road runs 48 miles between Grand Lake and Estes Park. Work was completed on the "highway to the sky" in 1933 after four years of an off-and-on construction schedule that was largely determined by high-elevation weather conditions. Eleven miles of the road are above the tree line, offering spectacular, sweeping views of the park’s alpine forests, tundra, and meadows.

7. IT'S HOME TO ONE OF ONLY A FEW ACTIVE CEMETERIES LOCATED IN A NATIONAL PARK.

Grand Lake Cemetery, established in 1892, 23 years before the park was dedicated, is located just within park boundaries. 

8. BIGHORN SHEEP ARE THE SYMBOL OF THE PARK.

Bighorn sheep, the largest wild sheep in North America, are both the symbol of the national park and for all of Colorado Parks & Wildlife, because of their distinct presence in the state. Though the population declined due to disease in the early 20th century, Rocky Mountain National Park is currently home to approximately 300 to 400 bighorn sheep. Visitors are most likely to spot a few between late May and June.

9. THE PARK’S FIRST PAYING GUEST WAS A LONGTIME FAN.

Abner Sprague, a 19th century homesteader and pioneer, was the first person to pay $3 for park admission in 1939. Sprague had a long history with the area: he homesteaded in Moraine Park in 1874, owned and operated a dude ranch on what would become park grounds, and named several natural features within the park. Sprague Lake is named after him. Today, visitors on foot or bicycle pay $10 per person and those in vehicles pay $20 for a seven-day pass.

Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

iStock
iStock

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

7 International Names for American Products

Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Maksym Kozlenko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

While available around the world, American products aren't always called by their red-white-and-blue names. Companies have to adapt to various languages and cultures, and what works stateside doesn't always translate. Here are seven American goods with unfamiliar international names.

1. Hungry Jack's (Burger King in Australia)

A Hungry Jack's drive thru sign
A Hungry Jacks sign in Bathurst, New South Wales

In 1971, Jack Cowin bought the Australian franchise for Burger King from Pillsbury Company (which owned the chain at the time). But because the name was already registered in Australia, he used the name Hungry Jack—originally an American pancake mix—instead. In 1999, Burger King began opening restaurants under its own name in Australia, but they combined with Hungry Jack's in 2003.

2. Doritos Cool American (Doritos Cool Ranch in Europe)

Cool American Doritos on a shelf
Cool American Doritos in Iceland
Funky Tee, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Cool Ranch is one of the most popular Doritos flavors in the United States. However, in many parts of Europe, the flavor is known as Cool American because Europeans often call Ranch sauce "American" sauce. Very cool, indeed.

3. Coca-Cola Light (Diet Coke in Europe)

Diet Coke is called "Coca-Cola Light" throughout Europe. The soft drink is exactly the same as its American counterpart, but the word light is associated more with lower-calorie items in Europe than diet.

4. TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in Ireland)

A TK Maxx in London
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for TK Maxx

The American department store TJ Maxx is known as TK Maxx in Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom as well as in Australia and parts of Europe. Its parent company, TJX Companies, re-named it so Irish and British customers wouldn't confuse the store with the established retailer TJ Hughes, which is quite popular in the UK.

5. Kraft Dinner (Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in Canada)

Boxes of Kraft Dinner wrapped in plastic
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In Canada, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is known as Kraft Dinner or simply KD. Kraft introduced the product as Kraft Dinner in both Canada and the United States in 1937. However, in the late '50s, Kraft added the words macaroni & cheese to its packaging of Kraft Dinner when the term gained more prominence. It wasn't until the '70s that Kraft Canada started using bilingual labeling (French and English) on all of its packaging. As a result, Canadian Kraft products included the words Kraft Dinner in a bigger and bolder font on one side of the box with Díner Kraft on the other side. The words macaroni & cheese were in a smaller font, so Canadians adopted it as merely Kraft Dinner. (Americans can buy a box of the Canadian version for themselves on Amazon.)

6. Meister Proper (Mr. Clean in Germany)

Bottles of Meister Proper on store shelves
Alf van Beem, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
 

Procter & Gamble’s Mr. Clean is a global product, so its name has been translated into various languages, including Maestro Limpio in Mexico, Monsieur Propre in France, and Meister Proper in Germany. It’s the same product—with the same sailor mascot—as you can find in the United States.

7. Walkers Potato Crisps (Lay's Potato Chips in the UK)

Walkers potato chips on a shelf
Ben Babcock, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Founded in 1948, Walkers quickly became the United Kingdom’s leading potato crisps snack food company. However, Pepsi acquired Walkers and re-branded it with the Lay’s logo and products in 1989. The snack food is exactly the same, but PepsiCo decided to keep the Walkers name to ensure customer brand loyalty in the United Kingdom. Walkers also has more exotic flavors than its American counterpart, including American Cheeseburger, Lamb & Mint, and South African Sweet Chutney. Adventurous Americans can get some of them, including Prawn Cocktail, Tomato Ketchup, and Worcester Sauce as well as a variety of different meat flavors on Amazon.

A version of this article first ran in 2016.

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