A beautiful Memorial Day weekend was the perfect way to kick off the recreation season at Elkhead Reservoir.
The lake, a few miles northeast of Craig, opened its boat ramp to the public last week and with cooperative weather for the first weekend, locals were out to enjoy all of Elkhead’s opportunities during the holiday weekend.
Fran Conlon, an aquatic nuisance species inspector for Colorado Parks and Wildlife at Elkhead, called it a “really good start” at the reservoir, with boats coming and going throughout the day Saturday, as well as residents taking advantage of the beaches and campgrounds.
“It’s been average or above average from what I’m used to today,” Conlon said. “This is the main recreational spot in the area for water.”
Boating was not the only attraction at Elkhead on Saturday. Some families and groups of friends got together for barbecues and picnics, while others enjoyed the water and sand on the beaches or headed for the campgrounds.
“We come out here quite a bit,” Craig resident Krista Schenck said. “It’s close, which is great. We like the river, too, but that dries out faster. This is a good spot.”
Schenck was kayaking and relaxing on the beach with family and friends. One such companion, Eric Hansen, said they like to take advantage of what Elkhead offers the public throughout the summer.
“We come out here and barbecue, enjoy the sun and the lack of wind,” Hansen said. “Just to be able to come 20 minutes outside of town and do this is fun.”
The reservoir has become more visitor-friendly in recent years. The beaches and campgrounds have been equipped with new shelter areas, and the hiking trails were extended for this summer, a project that will continue throughout the next couple of years. All those improvements have made it a better place to spend time outside.
“The improvements have been wonderful here,” Schenck said, adding that “we want a kayaking dock here at the beach, and we’ve been talking to the park officials about it.”
Cellphone reception is spotty at Elkhead, giving the park a great combination of being close to home with an out-of-town feel. When going to enjoy the outdoors, that can be the best part.
“I always feel like I’m out of town when we’re out here,” Hansen said.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org