Accessibility Tools

The Colorado Trail in Crisis

A Naturalist’s Field Report on Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems

by Karl Ford

Hardcover Price $85.00
Paperback Price $21.95
Ebook Price $18.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.50

Buy Now

“Inspirational for anyone interested in climate change and what to do about it.
—Thomas Veblen, University of Colorado Boulder
Open your eyes to the landscape. It will speak its health or sickness to you. See the wildflowers, the living forest, the dead forest, the overly dense forest, the burn scars, the rushing streams, the ebbing streams, the trout rising or not rising, the cerulean bluebird skies or smoke pall in the air; see lynx, moose, elk, or bears if you are lucky. Or not. Or maybe a wolf someday, if you are really lucky. See all of these, and behold Wakan Tanka touched by the hand of man.
—from the preface

The Colorado Trail in Crisis addresses the sweeping transformation of western forests and wilderness ecosystems affected by climate change. This book is equal parts trail journal and synthesis of natural and human history. Karl Ford uses research on climate impacts to forests, wildlife, hydrology, and more to stress the urgent need for an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases and save forests and watersheds.

Using his hike along the popular five-hundred-mile Colorado Trail to present his personal observations about more than a hundred miles of dead and dying forest, Karl Ford presents a brief environmental history of these areas of the state, weaving in scientific studies about forest mortality caused by insect infestations, wildfire, drought, and loss of snowpack, and describes the poor current prospects for reforestation as the climate continues to warm. His own Lakota ancestry, as well as historical references to local Tabeguache Ute Chief Ouray and displaced Ute populations, meaningfully frames important conversations about caretaking and connection to place. Ford also proposes potential solutions to drought and forest mortality problems, as well as varying approaches and limitations to mitigation efforts.

The Colorado Trail in Crisis appeals to hikers and nature lovers seeking to learn about the natural history, beauty, and serenity of the Colorado Trail, as well as students, conservationists, and scientists researching climate change effects on Colorado mountain ecosystems.


Karl Ford is a retired environmental scientist with the Department of the Interior, where he directed west-wide ecoregional assessments for the Bureau of Land Management. He was a consultant to the Wilderness Society and advisor to Wild Connections for a climate change project to identify climate refugia and corridors for the central Colorado mountains. He is the author of Triple Crown Hiking Adventures and has contributed to Park Science, Appalachian Journeys, Landscapes, Mile High Mountaineer, and the ALDHA–West Gazette.

University Press of Colorado Logo


  • Hardcover Price: $85.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-64642-598-3
  • Paperback Price: $21.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-64642-599-0
  • Ebook Price: $18.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-600-3
  • Publication Month: April
  • Publication Year: 2024
  • Pages: 180
  • Discount Type: Trade
  • Author: by Karl Ford
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-599-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

Related Titles

Browse Related Titles Tagged Under:

University Press of Colorado University of Alaska Press Utah State University Press University of Wyoming Press