The importance of large fire events in shaping the structure and composition of subalpine forests has recently gained a great deal of attention from resource managers. High elevation forests dominated by Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) are widespread in the Rocky Mountains, yet little is known about the ecology of large fires within these forest systems. Postfire monitoring at multiple spatial and temporal scales is important to improve our understanding of postfire dynamics. Therefore, we initiated a long-term study following the Corral-Blackwell Fire in 1994. Our objectives were to determine the effects of fire severity and seed fall on postfire tree recruitment, to develop a set of long-term projections based on initial postfire variability, and to utilize remote sensing to classify broad-scale vegetation and fire patterns of the entire burn. Permanent plots were established in different levels of fire severity (based on duff consumption) and seed fall and seedling establishment were sampled for each species. A potential range of successional vegetation development was projected based on initial postfire variability. A conceptual model was developed to serve as a reference for future monitoring. Prefire species composition, vegetation density, and fire intensity were classified using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite imagery and incorporated into a relational GIS database. The first year results indicated that seedling establishment differed significantly among different levels of fire severity and that seed fall was correlated with seedling establishment in burned plots. The successional projections produced a wide range of basal area values for each species, suggesting that postfire succession can be a highly variable process in these forests. The TM imagery was useful for classifying broad-scale vegetation and fire intensity characteristics, but lacked the resolution to detect finer scale ecological patterns such as fire severity. Continued monitoring of vegetation development within the Corral-Blackwell Fire will enhance our understanding of postfire dynamics in spruce-fir forests. © 1998, Tall Timbers Research, Inc. Abstract reproduced by permission.