Yampa River State Park to host winter event Saturday

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If you go

What: Ski & Skate Annual Open House

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Yampa River State Park

The park will offer a variety of winter activities, including ice-skating cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 276-2061.

Gliding across the silent ice. Tromping through fresh white powder. Seeing wildlife in its own, unspoiled habitat.

Yampa River State Park will host its winter event, the Ski & Skate Annual Open House, on Saturday, offering numerous outdoor recreational activities at its headquarters near Hayden.

As the name indicates, the Ski & Skate will allow participants the chance to skate on the park’s ice pond or cross-country ski along the 1.25-mile nature trail.

People who wish to snowshoe along the trail also are welcome.

Joann Hudish, an administrative assistant at the park, said maintenance supervisor David Dolif and the rest of the park’s staff have put a lot of effort into preparing the trail for skiers and snowshoers.

But much of their effort has been put toward preparing the ice, which can support between 20 and 40 people.

“They literally spend days upon days clearing the snow off the pond and grooming the ice to make it as smooth as possible,” Hudish said.

Hudish said the park has a limited number of skates to lend out for people who might need them.

“Most people bring their own equipment,” she said.

People making their way around the nature trail also can expect to see wildlife such as eagles, owls, finches, deer and raccoons, Hudish said.

“The locals look forward to it,” she said. “It’s a good way to use the state parks and let people know what we offer here.”

Hudish said the Ski & Skate has attracted as many as 200 people in previous years.

“We’ve gotten very positive feedback,” she said.

She said part of the reason people enjoy the event is because it caters to everybody with its activities and its scheduled time, which runs from noon to 8 p.m.

“We seem to get the most people at 4 (p.m.), so having it around that time works best,” she said.

Hudish said organizers schedule the event to coincide with the full moon so that when the sun sets, attendees can appreciate its beauty.

“We also set up luminaries along the nature trail, and it looks just great,” she said.

The free event also will have a small, specially constructed children’s sledding hill; a campfire with hot dogs, s’mores and hot chocolate; and performances throughout the day by the Craig musical group, Sweet Adelines.

“This is the first time they’ve ever worked with us,” she said. “They appeal a lot to families, and we have a lot of parents turn up with their kids. It’s a really good family time.”

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