Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to let Lake Dillon sailing season get started. But soon enough.
At Dillon Marina and its sister south across the pond, Frisco Bay Marina, sailing season is on temporary hold until the majority of ice and snow has cleared from docks and slips. Exact opening dates depend wholly on the weather, according to Dillon Marina manager Bob Evans, even though boats at his docks currently sit in unfrozen water. It all comes down to safety — property and otherwise.
“I don’t want a Titanic incident where someone runs into an iceberg or something you can’t see with the ice,” Evans said, half joking, half serious. “You really have to just wait for the weather to warm up.”
Multiple forecasts call for overcast skies and precipitation for at least the next week, but Evans still expects to open the launch ramp by next weekend. If not then, he says everything — launch ramp, marina shop and the Tiki Bar — will be open by May 27, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
“This might be the first Memorial (Day) weekend with snow in a while,” Evans said. “When it gets really cold like this you notice the weather comes in cycles: it’ll be cold, then nice, then get cold again. I’m just worried the streams and runoff might be hefty. It’ll come up really high.”
It’s what whitewater paddlers are hoping for. When temperatures turn consistently warm, the snowpack from several late-spring storms in April and May will rapidly melt to double or triple water levels at the lake. Flows on the Blue River below Dillon Dam were 469 cubic feet per second (cfs) on May 14, more than 200 cfs higher than the historic average of 268.
All of this means that when Lake Dillon finally opens for the season, boat captains, rowers and the rest can expect plenty of water all summer. Sometimes, waiting a week or two isn’t the worst thing in the big picture — especially when everything at Dillon will be ready long before the Dillon Marina air show, dubbed “The Highest Air Show on Earth,” less than a month from now on June 11.
This year, Evans says the air show will be “bigger and better than ever,” including an appearance from the sexy U.S. Air Force Mustang X1 before the military jets take over. His words of wisdom: Stop by the marina on practice day, June 10, to skip the crowds and insanity on June 11. Either way, you’ll feel the air show in full force — literally.
“We hope to close the show with a ton of noise,” Evans said. “Be sure to turn off your car alarms. It’s going to be shaking, rattling and rolling around here when they turn on those afterburners.”
Until then, Evans gives a little slice of life advice for just about anything around here: marinas, chairlifts, singletrack, the Blue.
“Just be patient,” he said. “It’s time to wait for Mother Nature. We’ll be open as soon as we can, but some things I just don’t have control over.”