Community Ag Alliance: Take the time to explore what makes the Yampa Valley special |

Community Ag Alliance: Take the time to explore what makes the Yampa Valley special

Joe Haines/For Steamboat Today

One of the things I really enjoy about living in the Yampa Valley is seeing all the ranching and agriculture that is at the core of what makes Steamboat Springs such a great community. Watching the fields get colorful, then green, seeing the hay grow and then cut and baled. Every morning I pass cattle, pigs, horses, chickens and sheep on my way into work.

At Yampatika’s Environmental Learning Center at Legacy Ranch, we have similar experiences on a smaller scale. There are pigs and goats in the machine shed through the 4-H Town Kids programs, which enable children who live in town to participate in the program by utilizing our space for raising their animals.

The 100-plus acres of hay field is now about four feet high. We even had a herd of 30 elk on the property that included five calves earlier this spring.

The most popular activities in the summer include floating down the river, a long bike ride and daylong hikes. All activities that take quite a bit of time to finish and are best appreciated when not rushed.

Yampatika’s summer programs are the same way. Our wildflower and medicinal herb walks and geology hikes take five to six hours to complete. Even our shorter programs, the mineral springs tour and watershed walks are more than an hour long.

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What makes all of these activities in the Yampa Valley special is the time it takes. Raising animals, waiting for hay to be ready for harvest is not something that can be rushed. Exploring a hiking trail, learning about wildflowers or area geological features cannot be done quickly or without a bit of thoughtfulness.

This summer, take the time to appreciate what makes the Yampa Valley special. From my perspective, it’s both our ranching and agricultural heritage and the nature and the environment that surrounds us that make Steamboat Springs truly special.

The value of what we have is not in how good it looks through the lens of a phone or how fast we can post about it on social media. The real value comes from what we see with our own eyes, hear with our ears and smell and taste, and touch and feel.

Go on a hike and smell the wildflowers; listen to the wind in the trees. Try to see how many birds you can hear. In the upcoming weeks, we have several programs to stimulate your senses.

On Monday, July 10 is our second watershed walk. On Thursday, July 13 is our last bird walk of the summer, and on July 15 is our last medicinal herb walk of the summer. All of these programs are free or at no cost but do require you to register. Lastly, we have a naturalist at Fish Creek Falls from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the rest of the summer.

For more information about these programs, please visit

Joe Haines is executive director of Yampatika.


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