Sunny, warm last week of spring in Steamboat likely to usher in tubing season

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The final week of spring should be a delight for outdoor enthusiasts in Steamboat Springs.

And this week also is likely to mark the start of the tubing season on the Yampa River.

The weather forecast for Steamboat this week calls for a lot of sunshine, daily highs in the 80s and only modest chances of rain.

And as the river ran at about 900 cubic feet per second Sunday afternoon, the phone at Backdoor Sports kept ringing.

“We've probably taken at least 20 phone calls about tubing today,” Backdoor Sports owner Pete Van De Carr said after speaking with someone who was asking if tubing would be allowed June 23.

According to a forecast from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, the Yampa could fall below 700 cfs and be suitable for commercial tubing as soon as Tuesday.

But even when it hits that speed, it isn't full tubing ahead for the commercial outfitters.

Van De Carr said he likely will first open his tubing operations to people older than 18 and ease into the other age groups as the river slows and becomes safer.

Tubers could be seen in recent days on the river as it still flowed above 1,000 cfs, and local officials continue to stress that everyone should be wearing a life vest while it flows at the higher speed.

Even at 700 cfs, Van De Carr said, the sport isn't without risk.

He said this year's runoff pattern has proven ideal for the rafting season and should provide a healthy tubing season.

At this time last year, it was a much different story.

Tubing outfitters voluntarily pulled their tubes out of the river June 20 as the Yampa slowed to 81 cfs under the Fifth Street Bridge.

A day later, the city of Steamboat and local wildlife officials asked everyone to stay out of the river to protect the ecology.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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