Campgrounds at Steamboat Lake are expected to be full for Labor Day weekend.

Photo by Tom Ross

Campgrounds at Steamboat Lake are expected to be full for Labor Day weekend.

Nice weather predicted for most of holiday weekend in Steamboat

State parks workers say campsites are full and fishing is picking up

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— Chances are if you don’t already have a campsite reservation and want to camp in Routt County this weekend, you will be roughing it in the backcountry or the backyard.

State parks workers report that nearly every space at Stagecoach, Steamboat Lake and Yampa River state parks is booked for the weekend, and in some cases, they have been taken for months.

The Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah before school begins in earnest, and forecasters predict nice weather until Sunday afternoon, when clouds and wind will roll into the Yampa Valley.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ellen Heffernan said the weather in Steamboat Springs would reach to the 70s today, with highs of 75 to 85 on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, however, she predicts the clouds will begin to appear and the southwest wind will increase to 10 to 20 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph.

“Mainly over higher terrain we could see a few thunderstorms develop Sunday night into Monday,” she said, although she put the chance of rain in town at 20 percent.

All 226 campsites at the combined areas at Steamboat Lake State Park are full, park manager Julie Arington said Friday, and fishing is picking up.

“We had a guy catch a really big one not too long ago,” she said.

The park also is busier than it was last year because logging operations kept portions of the campgrounds closed all season.

She said the park is fully open and operational this year, with water at about 68 degrees.

The water also is chillier — and much lower — at Stagecoach Reservoir. A construction project to eventually increase water storage at the reservoir has the lake’s level 10 feet lower than normal, and it will drop another 5 feet in the coming weeks.

Stagecoach administrative ass­istant Kimi Hollwedel said the lowered level has given the lake an odor.

“There’s a little bit of an odor because of the exposed muddy shoreline,” she said. That has led some people to not beach their boats but bring them out of the water instead.

Despite the stink, she said some people still are fishing from the shores and all 92 campsites are reserved for tonight.

The swim beach, however, is closed.

“The swim beach is pretty much not functional at this point because it’s mud and not sand anymore,” Hollwedel said.

Boating at the reservoir still is open, at least until Tuesday, when the lake will be closed to trailer-launched boats for the season. Hand-launched boats still will be allowed.

Boat ramps also are open at Elkhead Reservoir, and Yampa River State Park administrative assistant Joann Hudish said they would remain that way.

“Elkhead fishing I hear is phenomenal,” she said. “They’re taking some huge pike out of there, some bluegill and bass.”

She said this is the fifth weekend of the summer that all of the Yampa River State Park’s campsites have been full.

Biking trails

Biking trails also are expected to be open on most of Emerald Mountain for the weekend, Routt County Riders trail supervisor Gretchen Sehler said. She said there has been some logging at the top of Blackmer Drive, but it likely will be fully open for the holiday.

The Quarry Mountain connector is open, and the Ridge Trail is open via the Lane of Pain. The Rotary Trail is not yet open to the public, but she encouraged riders to go up on the mountain this weekend.

“Ride Emerald until you see a closed sign,” Sehler said.

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