Steamboat Springs Despite rising gas prices throughout Colorado, many local businesses anticipate large numbers of travelers to cruise into Steamboat for the July Fourth weekend.
Many of the local hotels and camping areas already have booked their spots for the weekend and most of the rental boats are reserved at the Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach marinas.
"It looks like it's going to be a really slamming weekend and I'm anticipating the whole park to be full for the rest of the month (of July)," said Dave Papini, the manager of Steamboat Lake Marina.
Because July 4 is on a Tuesday, this year's holiday covers a 102-hour period, compared to last year's 78-hour period.
"It's going to be a big one, I think. Most people are making it a four-dayer," said Tom Murrah, manager of the Stagecoach Marina.
The extended period will be good for local businesses because many people will come to Steamboat before July 4 and extend their visit throughout the week, said Turid Sabi, the owner of KOA Skitown Campground.
"We are full starting (today) through the fifth or sixth," Sabi said. "We're always full for the Fourth of July, but it seems like they're really stretching this one throughout the week."
Steamboat's lodging barometer is at 72 percent for the weekend, meaning roughly 12,000 of the 17,000 pillows available in town will be full.
An American Automobile Association national survey found that 37 million people will travel by plane or vehicle this Fourth of July and out of the 37 million, 32 million will be on the road. AAA reports state that this is a 4 percent increase since last July Fourth, despite the price of gasoline going up $.50 a gallon since that time.
"With the economy strong and people always wanting to enjoy the Fourth of July, people are going to travel," said Mary Greer, spokeswoman for AAA Colorado.
Many people are attracted to Steamboat as a Fourth of July vacation destination because they can take advantage of outdoor activities, go to the Tuesday parade down Lincoln Avenue or attend the rodeo during the weekend, Sabi said.
Outside of Steamboat, people are attracted to area state parks and the Routt National Forest.
"We're right next to National Forest so a lot of people are coming here to hike and bike, but what our lake really is known for is the fishing," said Roseann Meyer, a visitor center worker at Steamboat Lake State Park.
The National Forest campsites in the Flat Tops and Gore Pass area are filled on a first come, first served basis, and Liz Mauch, the resource clerk for the Yampa Ranger District, anticipates a busy weekend. She expects the Lynx Pass, Bear Lake, Cold Springs and Horseshoe campgrounds to fill up fast. Campers should be prepared to treat their water at the Bear Lake, Cold Springs and Gore Pass campgrounds, Mauch said.
All of the trails and campgrounds in the Yampa Ranger District are open and there's a $10 fee per night to camp. People need to be aware of the fire restrictions in place in the National Forest, Mauch said. Camp fires only are allowed in grated fire pits at developed campgrounds and fireworks never are allowed in the forest.
The only campground in the Hahn's Peak and Bear's Ears Ranger District that accepts reservations is the Hahn's Peak Lake campground. All others are first come, first served and cost $10 per night.
"We always expect a crowd on a nice Fourth of July weekend and the weather looks like it's going to be nice," said Ed Patalik, recreation planner for the Forest Service.
Not all campgrounds and trails in the Hahn's Peak and Bear's Ears Ranger District are open, though, because of weather and Blowdown conditions. Forest Road 310 from Buffalo Pass to Fish Creek reservoir and Granite campground is closed until later in July, Patalik said. California Park also doesn't open until later in July and Diamond Park opens on Saturday.
Swamp Park Trail only is open to the 1171 junction and the Wyoming Trail has snowdrifts north of Buffalo Pass.