Skating by moonlight |

Skating by moonlight

Full Moon Ski and Skate draws a crowd

Dan Olsen

Michelle Pilgrim of Baggs, Wyo., enjoyed the ice-skating at Yampa River State Park with her 11-year-old son, Will, on Saturday afternoon.

Although Will skates occasionally at Loudy-Simpson Park, it was Michelle’s first time in 20 years.

“It’s a beautiful day,” she said. “We got here right at two o’clock when it started.”

Many people came to experience the park even before the 2 p.m. open house began.

The Full Moon Ski and Skate Open House, hosted at the park two miles west of Hayden, drew about 50 visitors shortly after opening the skating pond and the 1.2-mile cross-country ski loop to the public Saturday.

The event takes place on the weekend closest to the full moon in early February.

Cooking at a grill were senior ranger Ed Keleher and resource technician David Dolif. They stirred chili and rolled hot dogs for visitors. As state park employees, it’s their job to be outside in the winter. Keleher’s 10-year-old son, Patrick, traded his skates for a hot dog while waiting for the sun to set.

“I’m waiting for the full moon to come out,” Patrick said. “That’s at 7:12 tonight.”

Hot chocolate, cider and coffee greeted the skiers returning from their riverside trek.

A snow machine sporting a roller groomed the park’s summertime paved trail, making a smooth track through the deep snow for skiers.

“We are planning on doing the same thing for the next full moon,” park manager Ron Dellacroce said. “On March third, we’ll get it all rolling again.”

He was happy that so many people had come out early to experience the park and enjoy some winter activities.

“If we can get people out to take advantage of what we have here, maybe they’ll keep it up,” Dellacroce said. “Getting people out in the winter and getting them to try something … This is why we live here.”

Dellacroce and his wife, Annette, have been cross-country skiing around Colorado for 15 years, sometimes on Rabbit-Ears Pass during the full moon.

On Saturday afternoon he was helping locals enjoy the sport by placing candle lighted trail-markers around the loop at the state park.

Near the fire-pit filled with crackling logs and marshmallow toasting sticks, Will Pilgrim is finishing up his last s’more, and is heading for the car.

The day turned out exactly as they hoped for mother and son.

“That was fun,” he said.

“It was a perfect day,” his mother Michelle answered.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or

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