Botanic Park a natural beauty on Yampa River

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— The Yampa River Botanic Park is billed as "a place of serenity." The six acre property is just yards away from the road, but feels miles away from the rest of the town. The park is free to visit and the goal is to keep it free, park director Gayle Noonan said.

Construction of the Botanic Park began in 1995 and was completed in 1997. It was originally a hay meadow donated to the city by Bob and Audrey Enever. The land now holds five acres of gardens and one acre of wetlands.

Today, the Botanic Park holds 36 gardens and the plan is to build three new ones in the next year. This year's goal is to open a children's garden. Area students participating in the Study Buddy Program -- where elementary aged children are partnered with high schoolers -- have volunteered time to help build the gardens.

"The kids gave us their ideas. We have big ideas for the garden, but it will take years to do," Noonan said.

There will be child scale trails and a fountain, per the children's request. There will be a beanpole tepee and a mini playhouse covered with vines, Noonan said. Noonan also foresees a small amphitheater where Yampatika can give educational programs for kids.

The second garden near completion is the Rainbow Garden at the front entrance of the Botanic Gardens. The gardens are sequenced according to the colors of the rainbow.

The third garden is still in the conceptual phase and will feature woodland native plants, Noonan said.

First time Botanic Park visitors will be given a map of trails that wind past herb gardens, a hummingbird garden, rose gardens and sculptures.

"It's a great place to hang out," Noonan said. "People come and read books and sit on benches. There are a lot of places just to be quiet."

This is the fourth summer that the Botanic Park will host the lunch hour free concert series in partnership with Strings in the Mountains Music Festival. The first concert happens on June 26 and runs every Thursday for 10 weeks.

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning volunteers come to the park for "Social Gardening" to plant things and pull weeds.

"We try to tailor the activities to the people who come," Noonan said. "We don't turn anyone away who wants to help us."

The Botanic Park is open from dawn to dusk through Oct. 31.

The Yampa River Botanic Park is between downtown Steamboat and the mountain off U.S. Highway 40. To access the park, turn south onto Trafalgar Lane, then turn left on Pamela Lane.

There is a parking lot at the end of Pamela Lane -- park in the far left corner near the "Yampa River Botanic Park" sign.

Dogs and bike riding are not permitted in the park.

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