Post-Fire Visitor Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions

The Cameron Peak Wildfire came through Shambhala Mountain Center in October 2020. The fire impacted our land and some of our outlying buildings, as well as a few locations in our central campus including our existing tent platform campgrounds. In summer 2021, we re-opened SMC to guests and visitors.

Regrowth is happening on multiple levels. Much of the land is still in recovery and remains fragile. For the health of the land and your own safety, please follow these protocols:

  • Please stay only on roads and paths. Forestry experts warn that walking over burned areas can severely impact the regrowth process. In addition, burned root systems lead to unstable ground that can collapse when walked over and partially burned trees can fall, posing safety hazards.
  • Please do not walk through burned structure remains. These structures likely
    contained asbestos, which is toxic. 
  • Perimeter trails are closed due to dangerous conditions. Please avoid them for your own safety.
  • The inside of the Great Stupa re-opened in October 2021. even as restoration and conservation work continue. Please understand that the Stupa may not be conducive for meditation if work crews are present, but you may enter the building and enjoy the art and architecture. 

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions to help you know what to expect as you plan your visit to SMC. 

Were many buildings lost in the fire?

Most of Shambhala Mountain Center’s main buildings remain intact including our lodges, Sacred Studies Hall, Indoor Dining Hall, Shotoku building, and Red Feather Campus buildings. Fourteen of our outlying buildings were lost in the fire including buildings for staff housing, a small meditation hall, two retreat cabins and most of our tent platforms. We are working to rebuild what was lost, but this will take several years as we work with rebuilding planning and increased lumber and concrete costs.

What does the land look like and what is being done to restore it? (see photos below)

Portions of our land have intact forest where the fire did not go through. Other portions were severely burned. You will see a mix of both throughout the land. We have had a remarkably snowy and rainy spring and much green is already returning to the land in our grasses and wildflowers.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado came to SMC and generously seeded 18 acres of burned areas. Areas where we had not carried out our forestry work experienced more devastating heat, and will take more time and care to nurture back to health. We are working with our partners on multi-year assessments of the affected areas to ensure we apply the best environmental principles to this work. 

What is the significance of fire in the native ecosystem?

Fire is a natural part of our Rocky Mountain ecosystem. Fires help to open up new space in the forest for a secondary succession of new growth. Nutrient rich and open soil following a fire allows for new species of grasses and other plants, and eventually shrubs and trees to come in. Eventually the forest matures with taller trees, and becomes ready for a new round of fire.

Because wildfires have been suppressed for a long time, when wildfires do come through they can be very strong and dangerous. Forest density and drought conditions exacerbate wildfire intensity. We have been seeing this more and more in the Colorado region in recent years alongside global warming. SMC sees our role as stewards to our forest as a very important one at this time to ensure the safety of our neighbors and county.

What work has been done in fire mitigation?

Building on forestry work carried out over previous years, in 2018 SMC initiated a 3-phase project to return all of our forests to pre-fire suppression density. Our approach is rooted in conservation forestry, eco-science and natural resources management. We have created a long-term plan for the land in cooperation with a number of partners. Phase 1 was completed in 2018, and Phase 2 will be completed in 2021. We plan to complete Phase 3 within a few years.

This holistic approach supports healthy trees with greater resilience to drought, insect predation, disease and fire, while also nurturing the biodiversity of flora and fauna that flourishes in the undergrowth in forests that are not overcrowded. The efficacy of this work was demonstrated during the Cameron Peak Fire where SMC lost roughly 78% of our trees in forested areas that had not been treated, and only 7.5% in treated areas.

Our efforts were recognized by Larimer County in 2018 with an award for good stewardship. The importance of this work was made even more clear when we learned that because of our work, the firefighters battling the Cameron Peak Fire were able to anchor the northern end of their defense against the fire on our land. This was also acknowledged at a recent gathering at SMC of the US Secretary of Agriculture accompanied by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Senator Michael Bennett and Congressman Joe Neguse.

For more information on SMC’s environmental work, please see Partnering with the Land:  SMC’s Forestry Conservation Project and the Cameron Peak Fire.


Moose and Calf, Spring 2021, Photo by Miles Greenlee

Greenhouse and Meadow, Spring 2021, Photo by Miles Greenlee

Grass Re-growth, Spring 2021, Photo by Miles Greenlee

May 2021, Photo by Miles Greenlee


One Week After the Fire, October 2020, Photo by Miles Greenlee



.. May

Flora of SMC Goes Word Wide Web


Living here at Shambhala Mountain Center, I see thousands of new faces each year — people who are coming to live here, or are else visiting for the day or staying for a retreat. Although it may be impossible to form substantial relationships with all of these people, a good place to start is to exchange names.

“Hello, I’m Travis.”

In my experience, learning someone’s name is an acknowledgement of shared connection that rapidly opens up the possibility of greater familiarization and friendship.

And so it is with the flora of the land, which is why we’re so thrilled with the recent online publishing of an ongoing research project that has been occurring here since 2014 in which Renee Galeano-Popp — a close neighbor of SMC — has been identifying and photographing the myriad plant specimens that live here on the land.

Click here to check out SMC’s page on the Intermountain Region Herbarium Network website.


I learned that this is a bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia) by looking it up in the online guide.

So far, Galeano-Popp has documented 305 species from 62 different plant families. For people who have spent some time here, some entries may be more familiar than others. In the online handbook you’ll find summertime floral favorites like the Rocky Mountain iris and spreadfruit goldenbanner, big friends like the douglas fir, as well as some more obscure (and oddly named) specimens like the starry false lily of the valley, the beautiful fleabane, and… scrambled eggs!

Of course, the binomial name is listed alongside the common name (when available) for each entry, as well as alternate names, photos, and a wealth of additional information.

We hope that SMC regulars as well as those who plan to visit the land someday will find this guide to be useful, and that it may allow you to make lots of friends while you’re here — whether you encounter other humans or not.


PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 2

By Martin Ogle

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more

This is the second of two installments which contemplate the “Rhythms of our Living Planet” and follow from an excerpt from the story “The Shear Pin.”  (CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1) In the brief, second installment of that excerpt (below), I lament the withdrawal from a spell of timelessness that had descended upon me at first, unwillingly and then like a magical meditation. But, in doing so, I realize our human minds naturally drift from being in the moment to leaving the moment through our abstract journey into the future or past.

* The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012 

I looked away, not wanting to break the spell. “It couldn’t be . . .,” I thought. But the thought itself broke the spell, and my gaze returned to the floor of the boat. It was, in fact, a shear-pin shimmering there in the sunlight. Just as it would allow the propeller to spin once more when placed in its groove, the pin entered my consciousness and set my thoughts spinning. The peace that I had settled into while adrift on the river was shattered by a simple awareness. I was now aware that there was a shear-pin in the boat and I could not wish it away. I could not just jump back into the river of timelessness and feel at my core the Life of the world around me. At least not at that moment. I considered tossing the pin into the murky Bush River, but knew that that would accomplish nothing. The awareness of that act itself would prevent my being able to re-enter the spell.

10463641_10152132452542026_3756876367164228233_oPhoto by Richard Swaback

Tension and release. For the Human Being, this law of Nature includes time and timelessness, and the drifting in and out of self-awareness. Our minds spin furiously to do good, to accomplish, to reach a destination. Overwhelmed by the ticking of the clock, we race off on a tangent, away from the Circle of Life. And just when we reach our greatest speed, we will encounter the large immovable objects, the limits, of our existence. Will we crash and break up, or instead take our pause and rejoin the circle? Do we have a shear-pin to release the tension, to tell us what is enough and when to stop and return? Pastel pinks and oranges gently brush the river as the Sun, still unseen, promises to rise once again.

Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we humans are blessed with unique abilities and uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present and a host of other related mental burdens. Our ability to go off on “time tangents” is our birthright as humans and accompanies many other unique, abstract abilities such as language, religion, and betting on horse races. In modern, Western society, however, we increasingly find ourselves worried and hurried. It is not only more difficult to enjoy the present moment and the beauty of life around and within us, our physical and mental health is suffering as well. Can we release that tension? Can we find ways to re-link with the pre-human pace of life while staying true to human nature? Can we find ways to consciously invoke ecstasy in its etymological sense of “putting our minds in another place?”

Come explore these and other questions at the September 11-13 Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center: “Gaia; Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth.” — click here to learn more


Martin-OgleMartin Ogle holds degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State and Virginia Tech. He was Chief Naturalist for the No. Virginia Regional Park Authority 1985 – 2012. He received the 2010 Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching – The annual award of the Washington Academy of Sciences for outstanding teaching in informal and non-academic settings. Mr. Ogle promotes a widespread understanding of the Gaia Paradigm through his workshops, programs and writings. He and his family moved to Louisville, CO in 2012 where he started Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC. Mr. Ogle was born and raised much of his younger life in South Korea.

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 1

By Martin Ogle

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more

To me, time is one of the most basic and profound ways we humans fit in with—and estrange ourselves from—the rest of Nature. Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we are blessed with unique abilities and also uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present, and a host of other related mental burdens. In a story called “The Shear Pin” (from my book In the Eye of the Hawk), I muse about our ability and need to inhabit two worlds of time: the “here and now” of the pre-human (and non-human) world as well as our abstracted, human worlds of past and future.

The following excerpt from “The Shear Pin” finds me stranded in the wide waters of the Bush River and Chesapeake Bay during my duties as an eagle researcher. I am on a small boat whose propeller has struck a hard object and come to a stop. The shear pin—a small, metal piece designed to break when the propeller hits an object that would otherwise damage the engine—has, indeed, broken and I’ve found that there are no spares in the boat. After several minutes of great frustration at being delayed from my work and feeling that my time was being wasted, I begin to settle in to a different time scale. The story concludes in the next blog post (coming soon) with additional thoughts on the rhythms of our living earth.

* The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012 

The to-and-fro of a boat on the waves and the feeling of wind on the face have the ability to speak if one listens. The slow, constant arc of the sun and the unpredictable billowing of clouds are part of this language. The cries of birds and popping sounds of fish at the surface, and the deep, underlying silence . . . The language speaks in terms of everything and in terms of nothing. It demands to be heard by all of Life, and yet it is all of Life, and has not a care. It is an unplanned symphony. The pastel pinks and oranges, ghost-like forms far off in the mist, tension and release – they all have the ability to speak if one listens. But rarely do we listen. Rarely do we afford ourselves the opportunity to listen. We are in a hurry, caught up in a wave of time.

The wind gusts came and went, producing a rhythm of waves lapping against the hull of the boat. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower. My breathing followed suit and a little later, my mind sensed a connection. The Chesapeake was breathing! Its breath flowed in and out of the river, capturing and controlling my breath, until I thought about it. The treetops, ablaze with sunlight, distracted me, and my breathing returned to the rhythm of the wind. My mind recalled bright, fiery scenes of a mountain forest ablaze with fire, not sunlight. Water lapping against the boat doused the memory. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower—the Chesapeake was breathing! It was alive! Subconsciously, I rejoiced and reveled in the possibility. Time disappeared.

Late Field

The language of the earth is like fresh water to a person lost on the salty sea. A long draw on the canteen is a pleasurable release from the powerful thirst that beckons. But, in time, the water, laden with other elements of our bodies, flows back out and is used by the rest of Life. Likewise, the fast-flowing rivers meet the tide and circulate, eventually becoming one with the ocean. Does the Bay experience pleasure? Does it have a thirst? Earth speaks with timelessness; there is movement and there is change, but in ever-recurring moments. Rivers flow and the clouds form in a never-ending cycle of ever-recurring moments. The self-awareness that produces knowledge of time is a tangent to the circular language of the earth. Timelessness creates an unplanned symphony; self-awareness writes one for orchestra and soloist.

Time had disappeared as had my self-awareness. My body was adrift on a river of water and my mind on a river of unconsciousness flowing directly from the earth itself. It was like being in a dream where you realize the dream, but haven’t identified yourself as the dreamer. I enjoyed Life as I unconsciously joined with it. The sunshine came and went, highlighting the waves, the veins on my hands, and the texture of the floor of the boat. And then from the floor of the boat came a tiny, shiny reflection that burned itself into my mind, and everything changed.

To be continued…

Join Martin Ogle for a weekend retreat — Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, September 11-13, 2015 at SMC — click here to learn more


Martin-OgleMartin Ogle holds degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State and Virginia Tech. He was Chief Naturalist for the No. Virginia Regional Park Authority 1985 – 2012. He received the 2010 Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching – The annual award of the Washington Academy of Sciences for outstanding teaching in informal and non-academic settings. Mr. Ogle promotes a widespread understanding of the Gaia Paradigm through his workshops, programs and writings. He and his family moved to Louisville, CO in 2012 where he started Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC. Mr. Ogle was born and raised much of his younger life in South Korea.

Interview: Waking Up to the Wild with Kay Peterson


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Waking up to the Wild: Mindful Hiking with Kay Peterson, July 24-27 — click here to learn more

Like trees in the forest or fish in the sea, we have an innate ability to live in greater harmony with our environment. While trying to navigate our busy, high-tech world, we can develop habits of mind that leave us feeling disconnected and unfulfilled. Delving deeply into the practice of mindfulness/awareness in nature, we turn our attention toward the subtle interplay of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and sense perceptions and rediscover how we can open to our fundamental interconnection to all things. Rather than always needing to change where we work, live, or who we love, we can change our relationship to these aspects of our lives in a way that brings us greater happiness and contentment.

Next month, psychotherapist, wilderness guide, and Shambhala meditation instructor Kay Peterson will be leading a wonderfully nourishing retreat here in the powerful natural environment of Shambhala Mountain Center.  Recently, Kay took some time to discuss the importance of tapping into the natural world, and how doing so can benefit our daily lives.

Enjoy this interview below, and to learn more about the upcoming retreat, please follow the links at the top of this article.


KayPetersonKay Peterson, MA, MFT Intern, is a psychotherapist, wilderness guide, and Shambhala meditation instructor. She has been facilitating nature-inspired programs focused on individual transformation, creative group processes, and mindfulness since 1996. Kay also teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is adjunct faculty at Naropa University.

An Eleven Minute Journey — Healing Shamanic Music


We’d like to invite you to lovingly interrupt your current state of being by pushing play on the music box below.  Generously give yourself eleven minutes — eyes closed preferably, but while at your desk writing emails is acceptable — to experience the rejuvenating power of this music from Byron Metcalf, an award winning musician, transpersonal psychologist, shamanic practitioner, and healer.

Also, we invite you to lovingly interrupt your current life trajectory by attending the upcoming retreat that Byron Metcalf will be co-leading at SMC May 1-3:

Click here to learn about Shaman’s Heart: The Path of Authentic Power, Purpose & Presence


ByronMetcalf_1214Byron Metcalf, PhD, is a transpersonal guide and educator, shamanic practitioner, researcher, and award-winning professional musician. For nearly three decades, he has been intensely involved in consciousness research and spiritual development, specializing in the transformative potential of alternative states of consciousness. As a drummer, percussionist and recording engineer, Byron produces music for deep inner exploration, breathwork, shamanic journeywork, body-oriented therapies, various meditation practices and the healing arts.

As workshop, retreat and ceremonial leader with over 25 years of experience, Byron has facilitated personal growth and healing workshops featuring Holotropic and HoloShamanic Breathwork and The Shaman’s Heart Program/Training throughout the US. He lives in the high-desert mountains of Prescott Valley, Arizona and is the founding director of HoloShamanic Strategies, LLC. Learn more at his website,

The Healing Possibilities of Palo Santo — Sacred Plant Essence and Friend of Humanity


Shambhala Mountain Center is glad to be hosting David Crow — author, acupuncturist, herbalist, April 3-5 as he leads Contemplative Aromatherapy: Vipassana, Ayurveda, and Plant Essences

The video below offers a taste of his wisdom and what his latest book is about — the sacredness of Palo Santo, and how we may have a beneficial relationship with this and other plants.  Just watching the short video may open up a connection with the profound possibilities of plant-human synergy.  It has for me.


SMC host’s Contemplative Aromatherapy: Vipassana, Ayurveda, and Plant Essences, April 3-5 — click here to learn more

DavidCrow_1114David Crow is an acupuncturist and herbalist with 30 years of clinical practice, and the author of numerous books including In Search of the Medicine Buddha. A student of the elder Kalu Rinpoche and the Dharma Master Hsin Tao, he teaches Vipassana meditation with an emphasis on understanding our biological relationship with nature. His work can be found at Floracopeia, (

Big Sky, Big Mind: Discussing Contemplative Astronomy with Andrea Schweitzer, PhD


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Big Sky, Big Mind: Contemplative Astronomy Workshop with Andrea Schweitzer and Jim Tolstrup, September 5–7, 2014.

Throughout history, we have looked to the skies to follow the rhythm of the seasons and to ponder life’s mysteries. Andrea Schweitzer is on a cosmic mission to reignite our passion for the stars by using interactive, kinesthetic astronomy to experience the movement of the celestial bodies. In this interview, she shares her inspiration and and guides our gazes skyward.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.


Andrea Schweitzer

Andrea Schweitzer, PhD, is an astronomer with the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado. Having collaborated with NASA on programs such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager missions, she balances her work with her personal practices of stargazing, yoga, and meditation.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Truly… Hug Trees

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

(Notes from the Four Seasons Program: Exploring Trees and Wildflowers)

I hung out with plants all weekend.

10517504_759949517404968_5577312332589050759_nPhoto by Jim Tolstrup

And Jim

In the meadows and wetlands
On the northern and southern slopes
Beneath my feet
around my house

Dating back ages…

A whole world of vibrant, fluid life in the form of plants:
ancient trees
wildflowers, brief

I met a lot
learned their names, and a bit about them
New friends!
All over the place!

There is one version of the world on the TV news
There is another version of the world in the forest, meadows, wetlands
on the southern and northern slopes

This experience is always available:
Lay on my back, face towards the sun
pretend to be a flower

The wood laying around on the ground is old:
Maybe several hundred years

The oldest living tree on the land is over 700 years old
It is vibrating with wisdom

The world of human drama is one world


I live with humans, plants, rocks, animals, wind, water…

— July 21, 2014


PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill