Yampa River State Park opens river access

If you go

Call Yampa River State Park at 970-276-2061.

Go to www.parks.state.co.us, select Yampa River State Park from the “Choose a State Park” menu and click on “river access points” in the left-hand column.

— With flows in the Yampa River subsiding but still several hundred percent of average for early July, river rafting could be the best it has been in many years, and Yampa River State Park announced Wednesday that it has reopened river access.

River put-ins in the park were closed in early June because of the high river flows and safety concerns. And although the water levels have dropped, Yampa River State Park rangers are cautioning all boaters to be extremely careful.

“Experienced whitewater boaters should have a great time, but those with less experience should look to the professionals and use a registered guide service,” Park Manager Ron DellaCroce wrote in a news release.

Watercraft designed for whitewater and personal floatation devices are a must. Low water temperatures add to the danger.

The Yampa at the Fifth Street Bridge in Steamboat Springs was carrying 2,560 cubic feet per second at mid-morning Wednesday, but the flow grows substantially downstream with the added water from tributaries such as Soda Creek and the Elk River.

Yampa River State Park, with headquarters and a modern campground just west of Hayden, also includes 13 river access points along a 134-mile stretch of the Yampa that stretches into Moffat County. Some offer camping; some do not. Camping areas at the headquarters also have reopened.

Wednesday’s release states that river access has reopened throughout the park. However, DellaCroce told the Routt County Board of Commissioners in May that members of the floating public need to make informed decisions about launching a day float on the river to ensure it’s reasonable to complete the stretch between legal put-in and take-out points before nightfall. He invited floaters to call his office at 970-276-2061 during the summer for current conditions.

The shortest float in the system is the 11 river miles from the Hayden Pump Station five miles east of the town of Hayden to the Double Bridges access two miles west of Hayden and close to the park headquarters.

Martin Clay, a river guide for Bucking Rainbow Outfitters, said his company has already taken clients on oar-frame raft trips (the guide does all the work) from the Pump Station to Double Bridges this week. The trip is taking from 110 to 120 minutes, he said.

The only issue has been checking to make sure river levels are allowing the raft and its occupants to duck under the two bridges.

Large vehicles are not recommended at Double Bridges because there is a tight turning radius at the put-in. There is a small rock diversion structure just below the access point that requires extra caution, according to the park’s website.

The next river access is much farther downstream, three miles south of Craig (20 highway miles), and there is a long stretch of private land on the south side of the river.

Beyond South Beach, it’s 32 miles to the next takeout at Duffy Mountain.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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