Dillon Marina on the northern shores of the reservoir and Frisco Bay Marina on the western end — are busy getting boats, slips, lakeside patios and the rest ready for Memorial Day weekend crowds.
"Summer is definitely in the air here at the marina so it's time to kick off our boating season," said Jenn Shimp, guest services manager at the Frisco Bay Marina. Both marinas welcome the 2017 summer boating season tomorrow (Friday, May 26) with rental fleets, food and other services. Here's everything you need to know before dropping by the docks.
Home to Dillon Yacht Club — dubbed the "nation's highest" yacht club at 9,017 feet — Dillon Marina offers sailboat, powerboat and pontoon rentals throughout the season, beginning with opening day on May 26, followed by canoe, kayak and SUP rentals in early or mid-June. (It all depends on weather, of course. Call before you go.) The marina hosts youth programs through the yacht club's junior sailing program, starting in June, along with the biggest, baddest sailor's bash of the summer: the Dillon Open Regatta from Aug. 4-6.
New this season is an updated Tiki Bar with renovated deck and exterior — officials hope to open for happy hour tomorrow, around 11:30 a.m. — but be wary of early June detours and delays caused by construction in downtown Dillon. Lodgepole Road (aka the main drag leading to the marina parking lot) is open from May 26-29 for the holiday weekend, giving boats, trailers and cars access until closing on May 30. The road is closed again from May 30 to Jun 1, then reopens from June 2-4, then closes from June 5-8, and then finally reopens in full for the summer on June 9. There will be pedestrian access to the marina along the Summit County recpath the entire time, and marina officials ask that boaters and Tiki Bar patrons park at in-town lots before walking to the marina. Please don't walk through the nearby condo parking lots.
FRISCO BAY MARINA
The Frisco Bay Marina and Island Grill officially open for the 2017 summer season tomorrow (May 26). From opening until closing in mid-September, the marina will have canoes, single and double kayaks, and a number of powerboats available for rent. Stand-up paddleboards are available starting in mid-June.
The Frisco Bay Marina is a full-service marina, offering boat storage and expert repairs, as well as slip and mooring rentals and a complimentary boat launch-ramp, which is available early in the season based on water levels. It's also home to a sandy beach and playground with a large grassy area, plus the nearby Summit County recreation path for walking and biking.
There isn't much happening at the marina for Memorial Day weekend, other than simply getting back to the water, but officials have plenty planned for the rest of the season. In honor of all things summer, the marina hosts its annual "Rock the Dock" party on Saturday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration includes a $6 burger-and-beer deal from the Island Grill, free live music with Lola Rising, a chance to check out the rental fleet of paddle crafts and powerboats, and giveaways from the marina.
The next week on Saturday, June 10, the Frisco Bay Marina celebrates National Marina Day with a boat swap, free demos and lessons with the Frisco Rowing Center. The center offers a free breakfast and introduction to rowing from 8-10 a.m., followed by the boat swap from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The swap is open to anyone and everyone in the boat market, according to a release from the marina, and participants may trade, sell, buy or barter kayaks, rafts, stand-up paddleboards, sailboats and everything in between.
Along with the swap, the Frisco Bay Marina is also offering free, 20-minute canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard demos from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will also be an exclusive chance to try out the marina's new fleet of Hobie Stand-Up Pedalboards, which feature a stepper propulsion system and a handlebar — think an elliptical exercise machine on the water. The Pedalboard demos are also free, which makes it an ideal time to check out a new sport.
In a town-hall style gathering, Breckenridge officials will cover the town's accomplishments, goals, projects and issues, as well provide an opportunity for the public to interact with the council members in the annual State of the Town address at 5:30 p.m. on May 30.
The meeting will be in council chambers at Breckenridge Town Hall, 150 Ski Hill Road. To lead off the gathering, council members will reflect on 2016 highlights and provide updates on the town's progress.
Next, council members will host an interactive discussion about Breckenridge's future, while the town hall-style gathering will provide a forum for the public to ask questions and to address other issues or concerns.
After nearly a year of overtures and debate with Vail Resorts, Inc., Summit's Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a new workforce housing complex in Keystone Monday afternoon.
Working with Vail and residential construction firm Gorman & Company, the county board finally settled on terms for the 196-unit, multi-million-dollar Village at Wintergreen during the third public hearing this month as part of a seven-meeting marathon dating back to February. From the start, Monday's face-to-face over the conceptual plan for the 28.4-acre property between Keystone and Dillon on the north side of U.S. Highway 6 had an air of redundancy.
"We have a familiar agenda in front of us," Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said to open the session. "Do I need to say this again?"
Stretching more than four hours, the gathering to find compromise with the ski resort company and its development partner quickly shifted into an exercise in group think meets musical chairs, with a who's who of county officials and Vail representatives taking turns presenting the latest submission to the three-member board. The number of real-time tweaks to the potential agreement, as the sides together raced to beat a June 1 federal subsidy application deadline, often produced new lines of inquiry to hammer out all of the language.
“There were many details that we thought we needed to get to and not just trust it’ll all work out. I’m feeling really good, really proud of everybody through this process.”Karn Stiegelmeier Summit County Commissioner
"I'm going to be honest with you, this is a lot of new stuff," said Commissioner Thomas Davidson. "I can't tell you that I really understand how these different calculations are going to work. I'm still trying to understand."
The discussion clarified a multitude of new components to the arrangement. They spanned how employee-housing credits the resort needs to offset future commercial development would be counted each year to verify compliance, to whether a transit connector for a bus system was actually achievable, and who will build and oversee community amenities like a community garden and children's playground.
The entire project is rooted in a deal announced between Vail and Gorman this past June, where the developer would manage the housing complex once completed on the resort-owned land in exchange for an annual lease of about $35,000. Following months of negotiations, the pitch to the county's powers that be seemed dead as recently as just two weeks ago, but 11th-hour bargaining saved the proposal.
As presented, Wintergreen will consist of 120 year-round rentals made up of one- and two-bedroom apartments, 36 three-bedroom, four-occupant seasonal units and 40 low-income, mostly one-bedroom rentals. Approval is still needed to confirm the federal low-income subsidy and lock in a rental rate at 60 percent of the area median income. Provisions are also included in case that designation for the single building is not ultimately secured.
After countless hours of bartering and rethinking how all parties could be satisfied concerning items such as affordability, traffic mitigation and who is eligible to live in the new housing, an accord was eventually reached. The rental cap on the year-round properties will be set at 120 percent AMI, though Gorman initially intends to charge closer to 100 percent AMI, or roughly $1,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and no more than $1,900 for a two bedroom.
A priority-leasing program was termed a backstop by Gorman and Vail to ensure employees within Keystone limits are given first crack on a unit among the mix of housing at Wintergreen. Workers within a newly drawn boundary that acts as the Snake River Basin, with Summit Cove and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area included, receives second preference, followed by anyone in the county if a rental stands vacant beyond 20 days. Once completed, a housing lottery would take place to establish preliminary tenants, and a three-tier, location-based wait list kept beyond that.
Commitments by the co-applicants to construct and maintain a pedestrian crossing and a multi-stop shuttle system, plus making space for a required 80-child care facility on the premises, are also in the deal. The concessions received endorsement from Keystone area neighbors.
"I know it hasn't been easy, and the community has not necessarily been the easiest group to work with during the process," Ken Riley, president of the Keystone Owners Association and board member for the Keystone Citizens League, said during a public comment period. "Overall we're very pleased with what we've seen happen, as tough as it was for everyone to get there."
Immediately following the afternoon vote, with Commissioner Dan Gibbs calling in from Denver to participate, the room broke into clapping, smiles, cheers and hugs.
"I'm really impressed with the progress and the stamina of staff and the applicant," said Stiegelmeier. "There were many details that we thought we needed to get to and not just trust it'll all work out. I'm feeling really good, really proud of everybody through this process. OK, where's the champagne?"
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area — the last resort still open in the state — reported more than 22 inches of snow over a four-day period to end the week, with the bulk falling very early Wednesday into Thursday and then most of the day Thursday into Friday. That total brings May's snowfall in the area up to 24.5 inches, just the fifth time it has hit 24 inches or more since the start of the 20th century.
It's the liquid-equivalent within the snow that matters most for water experts, however, and that remains difficult to determine until it eventually melts and can be properly measured. Even if historically this storm was a bit larger than those that typically descend upon the region in the spring, it is still not expected to represent more than 3 percent of the total moisture for the year.
"The runoff forecast doesn't look at snow, it looks at total precipitation and the water content of the snow," said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District. "Snowpack doesn't tell you much, because cold weather can slow it and if it's warmer it can accelerate it. It is a boost … but it could still end up average (levels) with this storm, it just depends on what happens in the next 10 days."
This upcoming week's forecast calls for occasional precipitation Monday, Thursday and possibly Friday, as well as early next week. The temperatures will be cooler, OpenSnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote in an email, creating chances for snow at higher elevations, but another storm the size of the most recent one doesn't appear in the cards. Additional rain, though, will of course contribute to area streamflows.
Still, the approaching water year is predicted to remain at or perhaps slightly above average for the Colorado River as it snakes its way through Colorado and Utah (with allotments also for Wyoming and New Mexico) to Arizona's Lake Powell before concluding in Nevada and California. The annual inflows into Powell function as the gauge of the West's most recent runoff, and this year stands to be solid, but not considerable.
Powell holds up to 25 million acre-feet. An acre-foot — the U.S. standard measurement for bodies of water — is the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, and, at its projected peak, the northern Arizona reservoir is estimated at no better than 70 percent capacity by this fall, which results in the "bathtub ring," or watermarks along its rock formations.
Another factor for what ends up in Powell, in addition to farther down in lower basin states, is what's drawn off of it for drinking, recreation and crop irrigation en route. Transmountain diversions, which slurp up water off the Colorado River for the state's dense population bases in cities like Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs, are part of the reality, and a new one could soon be added to the equation.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers firmed up its approval of the Windy Gap Firming Project in northern Colorado to pull at least 30,000 more acre-feet from the state's headwater region. The venture would construct the Chimney Hollow Reservoir, with a proposed capacity of 90,000 acre-feet, near the city of Loveland, and further expend the Colorado River before fulfilling out-of-state demands guaranteed under federal law.
"This project would be the first consequential new dam and diversion on the Colorado River in decades, coming at a time when the river is already severely drained and depleted due to overuse, drought and climate change," Gary Wockner, executive director of advocacy group Save The Colorado, said in a statement. "This project would make all of that worse."
Wockner's nonprofit organization promised to scrutinize the decision in anticipation of challenging it in federal district court. They hope to have a judge issue an injunction and prevent the Windy Gap project from ever taking a sip, instead having those seeking the resource to focus on conservation, recycling and growth management to satisfy new consumption requests.
"This draining would occur in order to slather more water on bluegrass lawns on the sprawling cities in the Front Range," Wockner added in the statement. "Every American river deserves its day in court — the Colorado River, which is the lifeblood of the American Southwest, certainly deserves the best legal defense we can give it."
The Windy Gap project is at least a few years off in the distance, if it comes to fruition at all. In the meantime, nearly every storm adds to the volumes of the Colorado River and each drop helps, though is almost never enough.
Beginning Memorial Day Weekend with the 2017 CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista, Colorado's short-but-sweet whitewater season begins in earnest after snow finally melts and flows on the Colorado, Arkansas, Yampa and other local rivers hit peak levels. That's when kayakers, rafters, stand-up paddleboarders and duckie captains come out to play at festivals almost each and every weekend, leading up to the final big-time event of the summer at Gore Fest in the Gore Canyon just before Labor Day Weekend.
Until then, there are plenty of ways to get your whitewater fix. Here's a look at 12 of the biggest river festivals coming to Colorado this summer.
Memorial Day Weekend might as well be the start of river season in Colorado, and there's no better place to welcome summer than Buena Vista, home to the Arkansas River and everything it entails: the Numbers, Pine Creek, Brown's Canyon and more. The 2017 event hosts SUP, kayak and raft races on Class II to Class IV rapids, along with flatwater clinics for kids, newbie paddlers and SUP yogis. Oh, and of course the requisite live music, beer garden, bouldering clinics, disc golf contests and more. Come for the pro kayak rodeo, stay for everything else, and especially contribute to one of several benefitting sponsors.
Price: Free for spectators, varies for event registration
Two words: retro rodeo. That's all you need to know about Animas River Days, a two-day river festival on the San Juan River at Santa Rita Park in Durango. The retro rodeo — think a typical freestyle kayak rodeo using only old-school equipment — closes out long two days of kayak, canoe, raft, SUP and surf (yes, surfboard) races, all to benefit San Juan Clean Water Coalition and other Durango Whitewater partners. There's also a pro freestyle kayak event, with prelims on June 2 and finals on June 3, plus a river parade right before the retro rodeo. Did we mention there's a retro rodeo?
Price: Free for spectators, $30 for one event, $40 for two events, $45 for three events (onsite only)
Ever wonder what FIBArk might have been like back in the day, before festivals became the hot thing to do in the summer? Head north to Steamboat Springs and Charlie's Hole on the Yampa River for the Yampa River Festival, a free-wheeling counterpart to the big, bold, business-like festivals on the Arkansas River. Things get started with a gear swap on June 2 at Backdoor Sports in Steamboat, and then kick into high gear on June 3 with racing: SUP, kayak and raft downriver, plus SUP cross, a raft rodeo and kayak "best trick" contest. There's even a contest for the best river dog. How's it work? Good question, but we're betting it has to do with cute dogs doing cute things on the Yampa.
Price: Free for spectators, $10 per race/event or $30 for all events
Call it Lyons Outdoor Games, call it Burning Can Fest 2017 — whatever you call it, the welcome-to-summer festival hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons is one of the coolest new festivals around. Held at Bohn Park on St. Vrain Creek in downtown Lyons, it's a bite-sized version of major events like GoPro Mountain games, with mountain biking tours, trail runs, dirt jumping and BMX contests, a slalom kayak competition, dog jumping, yoga, disc golf and more, all with divisions for pro and open competitors. A ticket grants entry to the Outdoor Games, beer festival and live music, and proceeds benefits Oskar Blues' CAN'd Aid Foundation.
Price: $10 for adults or $5 for kids (online), varies for race registration
Online at: LyonsColorado.com or LyonsBurningCan.com
The GoPro Mountain Games is way more than rivers these days — there's mountain biking, trail running, slacklining, dog dock-jumping, artist live-painting and free music playing, drawing 45,000 people — but paddling events on Vail's hometown waterways are still a major draw. There's the kayak rodeo in Vail Village on Gore Creek, followed by the rowdy 8-ball kayak (think bumper boats on rapids) and downriver SUP and kayak races. Then there's the Steep Creek Championship, an invite-only kayak race on a quarter-mile stretch of Class IV+ rapids at Homestake Creek outside of tiny Red Cliff. Most events are open to amateurs and the public, so bring your boat.
Price: Free for spectators, varies for event registration
Teensy-tiny Dolores celebrates its 14th annual Dolores River Festival this summer on the banks of its namesake river and nearby McPhee Reservoir. Held in Joe Rowell Park, the one-day festival is more about the music than the river — the lineup includes Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons, Gene Evaro Jr., The Yawpers and others — but who can say no to boating between acts? It's also one of the most affordable music festivals of the summer, with nearby camping for $10-$20, including RV spots.
Price: $25 admission, free for kids 12 years and younger
Dubbed "America's oldest and boldest whitewater festival," FIBArk (stands for "first in boating on the Arkansas) is back for another four days of rowdiness on the Arkansas River. Held mostly in downtown Salida, FIBArk has grown and grown since 1949 to become one of the biggest river festivals in the nation, period. There are nearly a dozen different pro and amateur races, including kayak, raft, SUP and the fabled hooligan race. There are also mountain bike races, trail runs and free music, plus pancakes breakfasts. Some people might call it overblown, but you've got to see this Colorado institution at least once.
Price: Free for spectators, varies for event registration
Some river festivals are all about the party. Others, like the Gunnison River Festival, are more about the rivers. This annual get-together (aka less than 5,000 people) begins June 22 with the Summer Solstice Party and live music, followed by organized and free-form river races for kayaks, rafters and SUPers on the headwaters of the Gunnison and Taylor rivers. There's also a beer garden all weekend, because it's a must these days, and vendor tents in downtown Gunnison. The festival is sponsored by the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.
Price: Free for spectators, TBA pricing for events
The Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival at Centennial Park in Canon City packs more river into two days than most people can handle in two weeks, but river rats aren't most people. Stop by the first day for free music from Keller Williams, plus raft racing for pros and amateurs at the downtown Whitewater Park. Return the second (and busiest) day for morning yoga at 7:30 a.m., river racing for 14 disciplines from 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and live music by Paramount at 8:45 p.m. until festival closing time at 11:15 p.m. That's nearly 17 hours of playing on the Arkansas River — rest up.
Price: Free for spectators, varies for event registration
After a decade, the 2017 Ridgway River Fest promises to be the biggest yet (or so the website claims) with float trips, racing and a food festival at Rollans Park on the shores of the Uncompahgre River. There's a SUP race, whitewater rodeo, hardshell and inflatable races, and the always-popular "Junk of the Unc" race, featuring a half-mile float down Class II waters on homemade craft. In the past, brave folks have paddled wooden pallets, garbage barrels and inflatables attached to whatever they found in their garage. It gets rowdy.
Price: Free for spectators, $20 for one race or $30 for multiple races
What, you think river festing is only for mountain towns? The fifth edition of Denver's "premier urban river fest" returns to Confulence Park and Little Raven Street in downtown for a couple of races and plenty of vendor browsing along the South Platte River. More than 20,000 people showed up last year for SUP, kayak and raft tours on the river, along with a SUP and kayak race, slacklining, rock walls and live music. The schedule is about the same this year, with proceeds from beer and food sales benefitting The Greenway Foundation.
Price: Free for spectators and public boating, varies for races
The summer river festival season closes out with a bang when Gore Fest returns to the Class IV-V whitewater of the Gore Canyon, found outside of Rancho del Rio on the Colorado River. (Yes, it's still running that high that late in the season.) The experts-only kayak race through Gore Canyon is still the highlight, but thanks to the addition of a whitewater park near Pumphouse Recreation Area, organizers last year added a freestyle kayak rodeo, SUP cross and a downriver race, plus a family-friendly float trip.
Price: Free for spectators, varies for registration by event
Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shailen Bhatt refers to himself as an optimistic kind of guy, so in that spirit, he noted that the state’s transportation projects will be funded to the tune of $1.88 billion this year.
“That is my glass-is-half-full statement,” said Bhatt during a brief visit to Eagle County on Tuesday afternoon.
Bhatt said nearly $2 billion sounds like a huge pot of money, but in reality, Colorado has more than $20 billion worth of infrastructure needs.
“$1.88 billion is a pretty small amount of peanut butter, and it’s a pretty big piece of toast,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt, along with other CDOT officials, dropped by several Colorado communities to discuss transportation needs and projects as a part of CDOT’s Infrastructure Week. Tuesday morning, he was in Pueblo talking about how some of the original Interstate 25 infrastructure, still in service in the community, needs to be updated and replaced. By noon, he had traveled to Eagle County, where he was touting the proposed Interstate 70 West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes proposal.
‘A great upgrade’
The I-70 auxiliary lane proposal is CDOT’s preferred alternative for eastbound and westbound travel along Vail Pass from mile marker 180 to mile marker 190.
“Available crash data shows that the west side of Vail Pass experiences a higher-than-expected number of crashes,” noted a CDOT fact sheet. “Differential speed between cars and trucks on the steep grades leads to safety concerns.”
CDOT has proposed completing an environmental assessment and definition of the improvements for the entire project area. Based on the assessment and available funding, the proposal could be phased.
In his remarks Tuesday, Bhatt said the project will likely cost between $300 million and $400 million.
According to CDOT, the project benefits would include:
• Improving safety along the I-70 corridor by providing an auxiliary lane for slower-moving vehicles.
• Boosting economic vitality by providing a continuous connection between the Front Range and the mountain tourism industry.
• Improving safety and quality of the Vail Pass bike path.
Captain Dick Duran, of the Colorado State Patrol, said the western side of Vail Pass presents one of the worst accident challenges along Colorado’s I-70 corridor. He said the additional traffic lane would be “a great upgrade.”
“A third lane would be extremely beneficial to getting the traffic moving up there,” Duran said.
Continuously moving traffic along Vail Pass is sometimes a difficult goal to achieve. CDOT’s own data shows that I-70 over Vail Pass was closed for more than 177 hours in 2016, primarily due to crashes and weather.
Those closures aren’t popular with the public, and the practice drew an inquiry during Tuesday’s visit.
“CDOT’s goals are to save lives and make people’s lives easier,” Bhatt said. He commended the state workers who maintain Vail Pass and respond to accidents along the challenging stretch.
“When someone is on the radio saying it isn’t safe to drive out there, that’s when our people go to work,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt also responded to an inquiry about how Colorado can increase its infrastructure funding. He said the state has the 12th lowest gas tax in the nation.
By way of comparison, Bhatt said Utah charges 29 cents per gallon for fuel tax, while Colorado charges 23 cents per gallon. He said the two states have roughly equal transportation infrastructure budgets, even though Utah’s system is roughly half the scope of Colorado’s.
“You get what you pay for,” Bhatt said. “To me, it’s a function of investment equals outcome.”
Due to heavy snowfall, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne have cancelled their respective town clean up days, which were originally scheduled for Saturday, May 20.
Frisco has rescheduled its clean up day and volunteer appreciation barbecue for Sunday, June 4. Volunteer sign ups will begin at 9 p.m. in front of the Historic Park and Museum, and the barbecue will begin at 11:30 a.m.
Breckenridge, Dillon and Silverthorne, meanwhile, will be offering clean up supplies to residents who would still like to pick up trash over the next week. Bags and gloves will be available Monday through Friday at the Breckenridge Public Works offices, the Silverthorne Recreation Center and at Dillon Town Hall.
Town staff will collect filled trash bags as long as they are left on the side of the road by 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 27.
The county will still be hosting its free electronics, pharmaceutical and household hazardous waste disposal and recycling event on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Summit Stage Bus Barn located 0222 County Shops Road.
A list of accepted items can be found at co.summit.co.us or by calling 970-468-9263