Construction slows new park's opening summer

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— With Labor Day now a memory, a new local state park enjoyed a successful camping season, despite limitations.
The new park, State Park Headquarters on Yampa River, opened May 19 offering 50 camping sites.
The park, two miles west of Hayden on U.S. 40, was open during the peak camping season, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The number of campers that came to the park "was about what we anticipated," said Dennis Scheiwe, park manager. "I did not expect we would be full."
Over the Labor Day weekend, the park's 50 campsites were half full, he said.
"There was definitely more people here compared to the Memorial Day weekend," he said of Labor Day campers at the park. "For the Fourth of July, we were fairly busy. We did not reach capacity, but we were about 60 percent occupied."
The limited use the park got this year shouldn't be a predictor of its future popularity, though, Scheiwe said, listing several reasons why the park wasn't full.
The fact that the park is still under construction was its biggest limiting factor, Scheiwe said.
"We did not do a lot of marketing of the park because we did not know what campsites would be available," he said. "We did not want to have to move campers because of construction."
Due to the construction, the park was also not listed on the State Park Statewide Campground Reservation listing.
The directory lists all the of state's more than 40 parks. Campers use the system to make camping reservations at one of the parks, he said.
"People were not able to call in and make a reservation for the park here," he said. "That is how a majority of campers find out about campsites.
"I think most of the marketing that was done here was by word of mouth or people driving by the park."
The park offers campers three different types of campsites on 70 acres.
"We have 35 vehicle campsites, 10 tent sites and five teepees," he said. "The vehicle sites were the most popular this summer."
Each vehicle campsite has an electrical hook-up, parking pad, picnic table, fire grate and an area to set-up a tent.
The 10 tent campsites, which include a picnic table and fire grate, can only be reached on foot, he said.
"Some people like these tent sites because they are away from the vehicle sites," he said. "There are no vehicles driving by. They are a little more private, but they do not have electrical hook-ups."
The cost to camp at a vehicle or tent campsites is $14 per night, he said.
The third option, five teepees, must be reserved in advance for $35 per night.
The teepees are owned by the park. Each is furnished with four cots and each site has a picnic table and a fire grate.
"This is a camping opportunity for someone who may not have a tent," he said. "Kids love it. The teepees are similar to renting a small cabin."
All campers and visitors to the park also have access to a visitor center and a facility that provides showers, flushing toilets and washers and dryers, he said.
Currently, the park is about 95 percent complete.
"We are finishing up the reconstruction of the waste water field," he said. "That should be done by the end of September. Then the construction will be complete."
The campground will remain open this fall until "snow shuts it down," he said.
"We will stay open for hunters," he said. "Hunters can't hunt in the park, but can use the campground as a base."
Scheiwe is already looking forward to next May when the peak camping season will begin.
"Next summer, we will not have the construction activity," he said. "It will be a nice campground to come to. I expect it will be a busy summer."

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail gsalazar@amigo.net

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