Yampa River is big outside of Routt County, too

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— Steamboat Springs residents are understandably focused on the high flows in the Yampa River where it flows through downtown and on the status of the Elk River just west of town. But anyone looking west will see that the Yampa and its tributary, the Little Snake River, are very different streams where they merge just before they reach Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County.

The Yampa was flowing at 21,900 cubic feet per second at Deer Lodge Park in Moffat County at 7:15 a.m. Monday compared to 4,260 cfs in downtown Steamboat. At 5:15 p.m., it was holding at 21,800 cfs.

A significant contributor to the Yampa’s significant volume in far Northwest Colorado is the Little Snake, which was carrying 7,350 cfs at 7:15 a.m., a flow that dwarfed its median for the date of 2,420 cfs. By 5:15 p.m. the Little Snake had slipped to 6,480, presumable before gathering steam overnight as melting snow made its way to western Moffat County.

The Little Snake River measuring site at Lilly Park, just before its confluence with the Yampa, was among five such sites in Northwest Colorado reflecting records for the date Monday morning.

The list included the Elk River near Milner, which was flowing at 6,670 cfs late Monday morning after hitting its peak at 6,860 cfs at 2:30 a.m. The flow in the Elk stood at 6,210 cfs by late afternoon.

Routt County residents might be surprised to recall that the Elk River reached a higher peak almost exactly a year ago when the headwaters of the river that drains a portion of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area climbed suddenly to 6,970 cfs.

Other river sites establishing daily flow records today include the Yampa at Maybell, west of Craig, at 15,500 cfs; Slater Fork in extreme northeastern Moffat County, flowing 1,690 cfs (the median for the date is 318 cfs); and the Little Snake River near Slater, flowing at 3,750 cfs.

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