Charlie Deathridge and Danielle Tredway walk along the Fish Creek Falls Trail Thursday afternoon. The parking area is free Saturday and Sunday as part of a back-to-school U.S. Forest Service promotion.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Charlie Deathridge and Danielle Tredway walk along the Fish Creek Falls Trail Thursday afternoon. The parking area is free Saturday and Sunday as part of a back-to-school U.S. Forest Service promotion.

Free park access offered during weekend in Steamboat

US Forest Service waives parking fees

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Learn more about recreation opportunities in the Medicine Bow-Routt national forests http://fs.usda.gov/mbr.

— The U.S. Forest Service is offering free daytime access this weekend at areas including Fish Creek Falls, Dumont Lake and Hahn’s Peak Lake.

There will be no parking fees for daytime use at U.S. Forest Service areas across the nation Saturday and Sunday. It coincides with other efforts supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, which encourages outdoor activities and recreation. Locally, that means a waiver of the $5 day-use fees at Fish Creeks Falls, Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass off U.S. Highway 40, and the Hahn’s Peak Lake daytime picnic area off Routt County Road 129 in North Routt County. Fees still will apply for overnight camping at developed campgrounds.

Diann Ritschard, spokeswoman for the Medicine Bow-Routt national forests and the Thunder Basin National Grassland, said the fee waivers provide an opportunity for Routt County families to enjoy the outdoors on one of the last weekends before the start of the 2010-11 school year.

The first day of school for students is Aug. 24 for the South Routt School District; Aug. 25 for the Steamboat Springs School District; and Sept. 7 for the Hayden School District.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done a back-to-school, free-use (event),” Ritschard said. “(It’s) mostly to try to get more kids in the woods and more Americans to learn about nature.”

The Forest Service also will offer fee waivers on National Public Lands Day on Sept. 25, and Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

The fee waivers do not apply to state parks. An official at Steamboat Lake State Park said Thursday that no fee-waiver days are planned for the end of summer.

At Stagecoach State Park, naturalist Andrew Henry said a “Back to School Nature Programs” event is scheduled for Aug. 21. That event includes family-oriented educational programs about beavers, wildlife and natural history, and how to build a pretend fire out of candy. Those programs are free with a parks pass and open to all ages. Call the park at 970-736-2436 or visit http://parks.state.co.us/parks/stagecoach for more information.

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