Enos Mills was a naturalist, guide, writer and considered by many to be one of the first heritage interpreters...although that label didn't really exist until Freeman Tilden
Enos was born in Kansas but moved to Colorado early in his life during a bout with digestive illness. At age 15, he made his first ascent of the 14,255-foot Longs Peak. Over the course of his life, he made the trip 40 times alone and nearly 300 times as a guide.
In 1887, after returning to health, he moved to Butte, Montana. There he lived and worked intermittently until 1902, spending more summers traveling the West Coast of the United States, Alaska, and Europe. In 1889, he had a chance encounter with famed naturalist John Muir
on a San Francisco beach, and from that point on Mills dedicated his life to conservation, lecturing, and writing.
Aided by groups such as the Sierra Club and the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mills succeeded in convincing Congress to establish the Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915. Calling himself "the John Muir of the Rockies,"
Mills said, "I owe everything to Muir. If it hadn't been for him I would have been a mere gypsy."
In his two 1909 books, "The Story of a Thousand-Year PIne"
, and "Wild Life on the Rockies"
, Mills wrote: "The peculiar charm and fascination that trees exert over many people I had always felt from childhood, but it was that great nature-lover, John Muir, who first showed me how and where to learn their language."
He also dedicated the second book to John Muir.
Muir wrote to Mills in 1913: "I shall always feel good when I look your way: for you are making good on a noble career. I glory in your success as a writer and lecturer and in saving God's parks for the welfare of humanity. Good luck and long life to you."