With full endorsement from Friends of the Yampa, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has plans to replace the 20-year-old Double Bridges boat launch west of Hayden with a more accessible boat ramp about eight-tenths of a mile downstream at Yampa River State Park headquarters. The goal, says Park Manager Ron Della Croce, is to build the new $200,000 to $225,000 boat ramp in April and May.
“Unless we have heavy rains, like last year, we want to get it done before high water,” he said.
The launch point saw from two to 15 cars in-season and averages 265 cars per month, though 1,100 of the number that show up annually do so in July. He added the leased Double Bridges site does double duty as a popular picnic site for people in the Hayden area during low flows. The lease will remain in place so that tradition can continue, but the practice of parking vehicles on a prominent gravel bar there will be blocked.
Use of the river access points requires a state parks pass, and the best way to visualize the system is with an annotated map in the park brochure, which describes each and their location relative to one another on the park Web page. The new ramp will join 12 other public access points on the river between Hayden and Dinosaur National Monument, near the Utah State Line, and replace a rough, old put-in that has become dysfunctional through the years.
Della Croce said Double Bridges was never ideal for floaters delivering a good-sized raft or boat to the put-in. The growth of a prominent gravel bar and the vegetation on it has made it even tougher. “You couldn’t really get a boat on or off that thing with all the willows, especially in spring,” he said. “You had to wade — start your day out wet. The gravel bar is a good thing (environmentally), but the last few years, it’s really become a problem. We want to make it a safe and sustainable river-use site.”
The change will lengthen the float from the Hayden Pump Station five miles upstream from the town of Hayden by about .8 miles to a little more than 13 miles, but will shorten the float on down to the Yampa River State Wildlife Area to a little less than seven miles — ideal for casual day-floaters in canoes, tandem kayaks or inflatable kayaks.
A significant advantage is the abundant improved parking that already exists at park headquarters. For floaters planning to sample other segments of the Yampa River network to Craig and beyond, to Duffy Mountain and Juniper Canyon, park headquarters offers 50 camp sites, including five for group camping.
–Tom Ross, Steamboat Pilot & Today click here