The season for taking a cool float down the Yampa River in the summer heat, a favorite pastime for many Craig and Moffat County residents, could soon come to a close.
That’s according to Ron Dellacroce, manager of the Yampa River State Park.
He estimated that a section of the river many local residents use — from Yampa Valley Golf Course to South Beach — should be floatable for three more weeks.
It is one of the deepest river sections in the region, he said.
River water levels will soon see a drastic decrease, Dellacroce said, with snowmelt lessening and farmers irrigating fields after their first cut.
“People have to realize it’s a privilege to float,” he said. “We have to understand that, when the water drops to a level that you can no longer float using the surface of the water, then our season is over and that the landowners’ property rights definitely supercede any fun and games we might have.”
However, lower water levels did not deter Isadora Hitz, Jonnie Madsen or Mychaela Howard from relaxing on the water Tuesday in Craig.
There were a few parts where they were dragging on the bottom of the river, and at one point, Hitz said she thought her tube might pop. But, all three made it to Loudy-Simpson Park, where the group got out.
Hitz, who has floated the river with her parents a few times every summer for about eight years, said Tuesday was her favorite float of them all.
“This was the first time with no parents and just the friends,” she said. “We just talked about boys, gossip and the usual teenage stuff.”
The group was not alone on the river for the sunny afternoon.
Karra Juergens took her son, Blake, 7, to float the river with a group of her friends who work at Ridgeview Elementary School.
“It’s just great family fun,” Juergens said. “It’s great to come relax on the river, especially on a hot day like to today.
“We stop along the way and let the kids catch frogs, crawdads, and just have a good time.”
Blake’s friend, Nathan Baker, 10, added he preferred the river to swimming pools as a cooling off destination.
“It’s less crowded,” he said.
Yampa River State Park closed its first river access point of the season Monday at the Hayden Pump Station.
Dellacroce said he expects more to close within the week, most of them downstream, he said.