In less than 48 hours, an assembly of artists from across the globe will make Breckenridge's public spaces their canvas, challenging even the longest of residents to see the town they've come to know so well in a new light.
WAVE is a free, four-day celebration of light, water and sound from June 1-4. For it, organizers at BreckCreate have planned numerous events, performances and interactive installations in and around the Blue River Plaza.
That's when a series of cutting-edge, contemporary public art pieces — from spheres that respond to touch to wild landscape-changing projections — take over Breckenridge's bridges, waterfront area and even some of its downtown buildings.
Many of the artists arrived last week, and they have been working overtime since to get set up. Three of the teams of artists made time last weekend to talk about what they have cooking, but the trio reflects only a sample of what's to come. For a complete schedule of events, go to BreckCreate.org.
An interactive installation created by New York-based new media artist Aaron Sherwood and performer, choreographer and visual artist Kiori Kawai called "MICRO" will feature 200 silicon-coated orbs suspended in midair.
Each orb contains a sensor and a speaker inside, and people will be invited to experience the interactive world of sound, light and dance created by the pair first-hand, as the orbs respond to the slightest touch with different sounds and lights.
The project is a marriage of Sherwood's background in music and electronics and Kawai's as a performing artist and choreographer.
"Choice makes everything," Kawai explained, "so your touch makes different colors and sounds."
The effects can be mind-blowing, and older participants, sometimes apprehensive to touch the orbs at first, can even a little fearful of what might happen, Kawai said. One poke, however, quickly turns into two, then three, she continued, and before you know it, age fades away and child-like wonder takes over.
Originally, the installations were designed to complement Kawai's performance art with sounds and visuals.
"As we were making these tools, we were having so much fun using these tools that, at the end of the performance, we started letting audience members come up and play with them," Sherwood said. "Over the years, it sort of progressed to instead of doing performances, we started doing installations and then short performances with these installations."
For WAVE, Sherwood and Kawai are also teaming up with the Alpine Dance Academy.
Belgian Tom Dekyvere is a rising star on the international light festival scene. He speaks half a dozen languages in various fluencies but rejects the label "artist" in all of them, saying he doesn't even know what that is.
"Even today, I still don't consider myself a light artist," he said, speaking more specifically about his medium. "I think light is a material, like other materials, and I use it."
Dekyvere, who uses all differnet sorts of light from the spectrum, found early success at a local light festival in Europe. Before that, he was consulting and fabricating pieces for other artists, and painting houses on the side to earn money. He used that experience to grow his own abilities, slowly shifting from consulting and helping other artists to creating his own pieces.
"They got the product, but I got the knowledge," he said with a smile.
Like many of the artists at WAVE, Dekyvere is constantly evolving, and he's intrinsically interested by the natural world. In addition to different types of light, he incorporates 3-D printing, laser cutting and various fabrication techniques, many of which were picked up when he was helping other artists.
Dekyvere said it takes a lot of work, and for his piece just north of the Dredge Pond in downtown Breckenridge, he's using more than 10,000 feet of translucent rope, all lit with multi-color LEDs, to capture the natural "friction and the obstructions," of the river in addition to the "harmony of entities growing into each other" with "a very big wink" to nature.
"You have to understand that these ropes are all knotted together by hand," he said of the labor that's involved. "You have to climb in the trees; it's very, very hard work," but it's not just putting ropes in trees.
"It's form and form. It's a root structure made on-site," he explained, adding that for the first time ever, he has a device that detects the sound of water and water movement into the Blue River.
That device transforms the sound of water into lights, and "what (people) will see is the visualization of the sound of water here in Breckenridge — live," Dekyvere said. "So the way the lights react and the color, they will be generated from a cable that goes into the water and listens to the water, so that is what the work is all about."
REFLECTION, PROJECTION, VIBRATION
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Andrew Wade Smith takes public art to a new level, mixing video, music and sound design with digital projections, all manipulated in real time, to produce what he considers a 21st century collage.
For Smith, collage is seed for all of his art. It isn't anything new, he said, but rather modern technology allows him new applications of a style that was first introduced to him in grade school.
"For me, in the second grade, when they put out all the magazines, the scissors and the glue, that was for me when I felt this power," Smith said. "Not power in the political sense or anything like that, but personal power to affect your environment. You sense it when you see other people's work, when you see someone take dirt and water, make clay, and it becomes a pot. Whatever it is, you have that moment."
The result of Smith's work is an alternate reality created by him and his team that defies convention. For one of his pieces in Portland, the exterior of an otherwise average building was transformed into a show-stopping spectacle, making it appear as if giant hands were actively reaching out from the building's windows holding lit candles.
Smith's exhibition in Breckenridge will take over the exterior and the upper level dance studio of Old Masonic Hall in Breckenridge. Upstairs, he has 12 panels fixed to the studio's mirrored wall, while old TV sets and electronics have been hollowed out, with another projector allowing him to produce all different kinds of images on those as well.
Shadows and movement also come into play, and to make it all happen Smith utilizes a team approach with Eric Buchner doing the music and cymatic demonstration and Shawn Wentz focusing on movement. As he was running tests on the outside of the building this weekend, people stopped and couldn't help but take in the show.
"What I'm trying to do with my work is nothing short of change people's perception of light, sound and environment," Smith said. "That's kind of the grand picture."
During this cycle, the nonprofit founded in 2005 will surpass $2 million in value from the number of hours invested into trail and other stewardship projects, on top of a handful of other milestones. To celebrate, and set sights on the new season, FDRD hosts its free annual kick-off party this Wednesday night, May 31, at the Silverthorne Pavilion. All are welcome.
At the event, FDRD's staff of four will speak about several fresh initiatives for the summer, as well as highlight the successes of its recent winter programming. The organization recently brought on former seasonal project coordinator Jill Bryant in a full-time youth and education programs manager position in an attempt to bulk up its children's opportunities and encourage additional family involvement.
To accomplish that, FDRD has a few projects in store. It begins with the unveiling of Family Trail Day on Saturday, June 24, in partnership with the Keystone Science School and local Girl Scouts troop.
The half-day morning event is being branded as a hands-on activity for the whole family, where adults participate in trail work at the Baker's Tank Trail off Boreas Pass in Breckenridge while kids, ages 6-12, engage in educational activities. The whole day is capped off with an afternoon barbecue as a reward for the efforts. Sign-up is required ahead of time and can be completed online.
"We're just trying to get more people aware of what we're doing," said Doozie Martin, the organization's program manager. "By and large we just want to make these opportunities available to everybody. It's been kind of a goal of ours, and we want to try and represent every population we have in Summit County."
As part of that, starting this August in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, FDRD is introducing a pilot program for 10 area teens between 14-16 to be paid for a two-week assignment while also learning about careers in natural resource management. The first week entails a regular 9-5 schedule of trail projects and working with others groups such as the High Country Conservation Center and the local horse sanctuary, and the second week will encompass five days of camping out to work on team building and understanding what Youth Corps is all about.
"It's a great training opportunity," said Bryant. "It's a great way for kids to kind of get a feel for what's out there in terms of natural resources jobs, and it'll give the kids insights into what they're doing and job opportunities with that."
Applications for the competitive program are available now and can also be accessed online. That will remain open until all 10 slots are filled.
This season, Summit's forest volunteer agency is also partnering for the first time on the inaugural "Find Your Fourteener" campaign to help prevent significant trail degradation on the state's popular 14,000-foot peaks. FDRD typically invests a weekend day each year into work on Quandary Peak near Breckenridge, but as part of this initiative will coordinate four Saturdays for volunteers to partake in maintaining one of the most highly trafficked Front Range high-alpine hikes.
The project commences on June 17, followed by one day the next three months, on July 22, Aug. 22 and then finally Sept. 16. Most of the work will be completed below tree line along the trail and the group is looking for between 10 and 15 volunteers for each Saturday. Once more, advance commitment is requested online.
Finally, FDRD is in search of additional participants for its largest volunteer event of the year in the annual Bacon and Bourbon Festival in Keystone, June 24 and 25. In exchange for a portion of the proceeds from the event toward general operational needs, the nonprofit organizes event volunteers and needs 70 total for four-hour shifts each, and there are two slots to fill each day. Sign-up is available online.
Emily Bruyn, FDRD's new office and volunteer manager, is heading that project, as well assisting with fundraising and social media management moving forward. Her role is to create increased outreach to segments of the community — especially younger and underrepresented groups — that are less familiar with the nonprofit's role with the forest, to offer them more chances to be involved.
"There's a large slice of our population here in Summit County that we aren't able to represent, especially in the 20s and 30s crowd," said Martin. "That's basically the goal, to just to have everybody — or as many people in the community as we can — know about what we're doing, and then for those who are interested in helping out, to be able to have opportunities for them to come out and give back to their community also."
For more information on FDRD visit: FDRD.org, or call 970-262-3449.
Following a combination of paved trails and roads, the Lake Dillon scenic bike route runs along shorelines, through towns and past marinas on the north end of the lake before taking riders on a challenging trip up Swan Mountain Road. Riders can select dozens of options, but one thing's for sure: At 18 miles from start to finish, there's a little something for everyone out there.
Starting at the east end of Main Street adjacent to the Frisco Marina, this level section of recpath winds along Lake Dillon's shoreline, passing by the Frisco Cemetery, Tenmile Creek inlet and the Summit Middle School. The path continues through lodgepole pine forests to a section that parallels the Dillon Dam Road. After crossing access roads for Giberson Bay parking and the Heaton Bay Campground, it parallels the road again for a short distance and then crosses the dam. Beyond the dam, the path curves south and merges with Lodgepole Road until you connect to the Dillon Marina. The path resumes above the marina. Follow the recpath to Gold Run Circle, then east on Tenderfoot Road to the trailhead, where the recpath resumes and continues parallel to Highway 6 to Swan Mountain Road.
Now, pause for a breather and sip of water. The 5 or so miles on the north shore of Lake Dillon are perfect for families, large groups and just about anyone else who simply wants to enjoy a mellow cruise around an alpine lake. This section passes right outside of downtown Dillon — home to Pug Ryan's microbrewery and beloved brunch spots like Arapahoe Cafe — and takes riders directly past the marina parking lot with views of sailboats and the occasional High Country regatta. Just west of the marina is the Dillon Amphitheater and connected park, complete with picnic tables, lakeside benches and plenty of open grass. Bring a backpack with a picnic lunch, or pedal down to the Tiki Bar on the dock.
About 2 miles outside of Keystone, the path will cross the Snake River by means of a large pedestrian bridge. Shortly thereafter, the path intersects another recpath. Take the right fork, which will lead you to Swan Mountain Road in about 1 mile. Cross Swan Mountain Road and continue on the recpath through the Summit Cove neighborhood following signs for the recpath, which, after a climb out of Summit Cove, intersects again with Swan Mountain Road.
Use caution crossing Swan Mountain Road and continue on the recpath to the Sapphire Point parking area. A restroom facility is available at the summit. Take the Sapphire Point Trail (pedestrian only) for great views of the surrounding peaks. The route then descends quickly to the intersection with Highway 9. Cross this highway at the light. The separated recpath resumes just past the intersection on your right. You will then come to the intersection with Frisco Farmer's Korner Trail. Take a right onto the Farmer's Korner Bike path. The path climbs over a hill, then continues through the Bill's Ranch area.
At the moment, construction on Highway 9 at the Korner means the path from Summit High School to Frisco is occasionally closed. You can also ride the road from here to the Frisco Adventure Park about 0.5 miles away, but be careful — traffic can be just as busy as Swan Mountain.
There are several connections that will lead you back to the town of Frisco and the Frisco Bay Marina, including Miner's Creek Road and Second and Seventh streets.
There are five parking options strewn across the path, including the Dillon Nature Preserve Trailhead just off Highway 6 past the Roberts Tunnel Road entrance. The majority of cyclists start at the Giberson Bay scenic overlook just south of Dillon Dam on Dillon Dam Road or the Dillon Marina parking lot at 150 Marina Drive.
Despite snow and rain across much of the White River National Forest for the month of May, the summer season is fast approaching. Most campgrounds officially opened May 19 with a few exceptions, such as the higher elevation campgrounds and campgrounds in Summit County experiencing spring snowfall.
The Forest offers 68 family campgrounds, six group sites, 17 picnic areas and 26 other developed sites such as interpretive sites, overlooks and boat launches. These facilities provide space for recreational enjoyment during the late spring, summer and fall seasons.
Even though snowy conditions may exist in Summit County, campgrounds on the Dillon Ranger District are open, excluding the following locations which open May 26: Lowry Campground, Prospector Campground and Windy Point Group Site.
Campgrounds can be reserved up to 240 days in advance. Group campsites can be reserved 12 months in advance. Make your reservation soon at http://www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
After years of planning, designs are taking shape for a massive mixed-use development in the heart of Silverthorne, one that builders and community leaders alike say will transform the town's core, creating a new "main street" experience.
The Fourth Street Crossing is a large-scale, town-led project that is to occupy 3.8 acres of land — the entire block that sits between Third and Fourth streets — on the western side of Colorado 9.
Roughly 1,000 feet from Interstate 70, and directly across the highway from the Silverthorne Pavilion and the new performing arts center that's set to open at the end of June, the location is ideal for Silverthorne and sits as one bookend to the outlet mall.
By the time it's all said and done, the Fourth Street Crossing development is expected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million, and developers hope to break ground as early as next spring or summer.
“Our phones are on, and our lines of communication are open. We’re just hoping people reach out to us.”Tim Fredregill Milender White
Officials have put together three-dimensional renderings and an animated walk-through video tour to help residents get an idea of the scope of the project and what it might look like. However, at this point, it's still very much a moving target, and community feedback is being sought.
"We're looking for input here from the residents of Summit County to tell us what are their hopes and dreams for this site," said Tim Fredregill, representing Milender White, the development firm that's been awarded the job. They're working with DTJ Design, Jack Wolfe of LIV Sotheby's on marketing, and Tetra Tech as the civil engineer.
"What is Silverthorne missing?" Fredregill asked of the project. "What do (residents) want to see? What do they think about the plans we've produced to date?"
The artistic and video renderings show multiple buildings with boutique stores, small shops, cafes and restaurants on the first floors and condos and townhome flats on the second and third stories.
There are plans for an office building, a parking garage, relocating the transit center and a festival plaza, but Fredregill said his firm wants to know exactly what the community thinks before moving forward, because, he said, "this is for you."
Questions like, "Is there too much density? Would people like to see more retail, more restaurants or more residential units?" are all on Fredregill's radar.
"These are concepts for your review and input," he said as he addressed a crowd of about two-dozen people at the first open forum for the development held at the pavilion on Wednesday. No dates are set, but more outreach efforts are planned in the future, he said.
Additionally, Fredregill is pushing people to check out the development's website, FourthStreetCrossing.com, where they can find more information about the project, sign up for project updates and leave feedback. They've also started a Facebook page for the development; as of 2 p.m. Friday, it had 13 page likes.
Fredregill said the feedback could be about almost anything, including concerns, compliments or people who want to express interest in housing or retail spaces.
"Our phones are on, and our lines of communication are open," Fredregill said. "We're just hoping people reach out to us."
Based on the early designs, about the only thing that won't be radically different from what's there now is The Mint, a local steakhouse that's been in business since 1862 and boasts on its website about being in the oldest building in Summit County.
The owner of The Mint was one of three other property owners who provided land for project, according to the town, and the designs have The Mint's building remaining largely unchanged, as a centerpiece of the development.
"The Mint stays," Fredregill said matter-of-factly. "The Mint gets re-skinned hopefully, but that ownership remains in place. They are the sellers of a large portion of the site, so without them this project wouldn't be possible and we have to respect their wishes."
As far as the timeline goes, Milender White still needs to go through the town's site-plan approval process, which will require several public meetings and the approval of the town council.
"We anticipate making it through that process this calendar year, and the intent is to start construction in spring or summer 2018," Fredregill said, adding that once complete, he believes Silverthorne will have a new "vibrant town core that the residents of Summit County can be proud of" in the Fourth Street Crossing.
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