Family hiking on summer vacation in Colorado mountains.

Hikers in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park could grow by 40 acres thanks to a donation from a former astronaut.

The property of Vance D. Brand sits next to the park’s eastern boundary, and would serve as a buffer between other pieces of private property and the park’s popular trails.

“My view is that this donation is payback to the American people in appreciation for the wonderful times and many benefits that I receive from great experiences” in the park, said Brand.

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse have introduced legislation to allow the National Park Service to adjust the boundary of the park.

“Our bills will formally add this parcel of land in the Longs Peak region to RMNP, and clean up boundary discrepancies elsewhere, to improve management in the area,” said Bennet.

At 415 square miles, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular locations in the National Park System, with 4.6 million annual visitors. Only the Great Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon had more visitors in 2018.

Vance is now retired in Southern California. He said he purchased the land in 1967, which lies four miles to the northeast of the Longs Peak summit. Currently, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy is in possession of the land.

The Larimer County Commissioners and town of Estes Park both endorse the acquisition.

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