The Stagecoach tailwaters on the Yampa River is one of the most popular places to fish in Routt County because of the number and size of the trout that can be caught there.
The fishing spot has become so popular, in fact, that Stagecoach State Park is expanding the nearby parking lot to accommodate the overflow.
But in the winter, though fishing the tailwaters is still productive, the numbers dwindle because Routt County Road 18, which makes the spot so accessible in the summer, is closed from Jan. 1 to March 31. Only those willing to park at the entrance of the park and strap on a pair of skis or walk can reap the rewards.
The spot is open to fly and lure fishing and is catch and release only.
"It's the perfect mountain fishing experience, some of the best in Colorado," Stagecoach State Park manager Mike Taylor said. "Fish are there all winter long."
There also is great fishing potential for ice fisherman on Stagecoach Reservoir. Fishermen find a plentiful supply of trout and Northern Pike.
In November, the lake freezes over and fishing usually starts around Christmas, Taylor said. "We usually have between 15 and 20 inches of ice."
Snowmobiles are allowed on the lake surface, but fisherman and snowmobilers are advised to call the park to check on ice conditions.
The park does not provide fishing huts on the reservoir. Fishermen are allowed to bring their own huts on the condition that they remove them at the end of the day.
Stagecoach State Park also is a popular place for cross country skiing.
There are five miles of cross country trails that are occasionally groomed, Taylor said. Wind and deep, drifting snow make grooming difficult.
Two camp sites will have electricity this year and can be reserved through the winter.
Stagecoach State Park is a newer park founded in 1989.
Visitors can access Stagecoach State Park by following Routt County Road 14 from Colorado Highway 131 to the park's main gate.
In order to use the trails or the lake, visitors must obtain a daily park pass for $5 or an annual pass that costs $50.
Visitors to southern Routt County who want to explore further can take advantage of an extensive network of snowmobile trails.
Steamboat Snowmobile Tours offers a half-day tour and a full-day tour of the Flat Top Trail on the Colorado Scenic Byway near Yampa.
The tour passes 11,600-foot Pyramid Peak and crosses Dunckley Pass and the Ute Indian Trail, a Colorado historic site.
For both tours, Steamboat Snowmobile Tours provides shuttle service with pickup in downtown Steamboat or at the ski area at 9 a.m. Lunch is provided on both tours. Suits, boots and helmets also are provided.
For more information, call 879-6500.
For those who want to visit the Dunckley Pass area with only the sound of their skis sliding along the snow, the Yampa National Forest Ranger District provides maps of well-maintained cross country ski trails.
The trail system is a series of interconnecting loops routed on existing logging roads.
To reach the trailhead from Steamboat Springs follow U.S. Highway 40 east to Colorado 131 south toward Oak Creek. From Oak Creek follow County Road 125 to County Road 132. The trailhead is approximately eight miles from downtown Oak Creek. n