Float Fishing The Colorado River, New Boating Access For 2012
May 25th, 2012
It’s that time of year to head into another boating season here in Colorado. Anticipation is running high that with our below average snowpack this year, there will be a great opportunity to make up for some of the lost time on our rivers last year. It’s hard to believe we’re just one year removed from the largest and longest lasting runoff in a quarter century.
We thought we would take a little time to lay out some of the exciting changes along the upper Colorado River with regards to boating access. The Upper Colorado, in terms of floating access, would be the 50 mile stretch of river from Pumphouse down to Dotsero. Particularly in the upper reaches, this is certainly some of the most popular float water in the state. Along with that popularity, can come some crowded access points during peak times.
In an effort to alleviate some of this congestion, Eagle County has undertaken a bold initiative to increase public access along the river corridor. Using voter approved tax revenues, designated for the expansion of public open space; Eagle County has acquired some key properties along the Colorado with the specific purpose of public use put-ins and take-outs for river floaters.
In the master plan, at least five properties have been identified as offering prime locations for boater access. We want to focus on the three parcels that have already been acquired and ramp improvements initiated.
First and most prominent is the State Bridge property. This property has been privately held but, open to the public for years, for a fee. Now under the management of the BLM, this property is undergoing substantial improvements and will open to the public shortly. There will be a day use fee for access to the facilities but, it will be nominal, the same as up river at Pumphouse. The construction project is slated to be completed sometime in June, at which time the ramp will open for public traffic. However, there is enough completed work to allow for the BLM to open the ramp for this Memorial Day Weekend only and then close again Monday evening at 5 pm.
Moving down river about 5 miles is the property referred to by many as the Two Bridges property. This is a former private ramp to an outfitter. This is a fantastic acquisition and will really do a lot to open up more options along this stretch of river. Currently, the stretch from State Bridge to the next public ramp on the river at Catamount is 14 miles. Needless to say that is a long run during low water levels. This new ramp will allow for two shorter floats in that same distance. The State Bridge to Two Bridges run being about 5.5 miles and the Two Bridges to Catamount float being just under 9 miles. This property is not open yet, as work needs to be done to accommodate the larger volume of vehicle traffic that comes with a public facility. We will let you know when that opening happens.
Finally, the third parcel is much further down river at Dotsero. Currently, there is a very serviceable ramp wedged between the I-70 overpass and the frontage road overpass on river left. Unfortunately, CDOT is going to be replacing the frontage road bridge later this year and the location of the new bridge will rest directly where the boat ramp is now. Eagle County has acquired the property just upstream of the frontage road, on the same side of the river, and will begin construction of a new access point very soon. We are not sure of the time table on this yet but, it appears to be set for construction this year. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.
Eagle County has other pieces to this bold plan, some of which may include other uses as well. We will do our best to continue to post any news of additional land or facilities as we hear of them. We would like to take this opportunity to applaud the vision and efforts of Eagle County to enhance the public ability to enjoy this fantastic resource.