Feeling froggy? Get close to amphibians and reptiles at Steamboat Lake State Park’s new exhibit | SteamboatToday.com

Feeling froggy? Get close to amphibians and reptiles at Steamboat Lake State Park’s new exhibit

The park is looking for a local artist or group interested in completing a mural as part of the new displays

Western chorus frogs are one of the species in Steamboat Lake State Park's new displays. The park is looking for a local artist or group interested in completing a mural surrounding the new herpetology exhibit.
Courtesy National Parks Service

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Lake State Park is home to moose, mountain lions and more, but those are best viewed from a distance. A new exhibit at the park’s visitor’s center will allow people to get up close and learn about some of the park’s smallest creatures.

As part of an effort to make its exhibits more interactive, the park is in the process of completing a new interpretive display featuring reptiles and amphibians in the park. Park Manager Julie Arington said they’re hoping a display of the park’s animals will draw people in to learn a bit more.

“We’re just generally trying to make it more interactive and interesting for groups of people based on the messages that we’re trying to convey about the history of the area as well as natural resources and outdoor recreation. (We’re) trying to make it more family-friendly for kids,” Arington said. “We’re going to put up some more fun stuff for kids to play with, but if people have suggestions or ideas, too, we’re open to suggestions.”

While most folks are familiar with the large mammals that live in Steamboat Lake State Park, she hopes a mural in the new display will draw attention to the little critters that people might not think about as often. The park is looking for a local artist or a group of artists to take on the project, and it has some funding available to complete the work.

“We’re looking at doing things on kind of a macro level, so trying to get people to focus on not just the big exciting wildlife, like the moose and the elk and deer and things like that, but paying attention to small wildlife is also part of the outdoors and is also very interesting,” Arington said. “The mural would reflect that.”

This summer, a volunteer installed a herpetology exhibit with live reptiles and amphibians that are native to Colorado. The animals in this exhibit come from a number of different places. Tiger salamanders were rescued from a retention pond that was scheduled to be backfilled with dirt. There’s a garter snake, a common snake in the area that eats fish, frogs and other small animals, and a bull snake, which though common in other areas of Northwest Colorado, doesn’t live at the elevation of Steamboat Lake.

“We’ve got a couple of little chorus frogs that are native to this area,” Arington said. “A lot of people hear them singing in the spring. These guys managed to wander into the building, so we rescued them, and now, they’re on display.”

“They volunteered,” Administrative Assistant Kelly Cook said.

“They volunteered,” Arington agreed.

If you’re looking to volunteer as well, the park is looking for some extra hands to help finish up the new display by completing a mural of the small animals and their habitats located in the park. Cook said the park is looking for a realistic representation of the land and the animals in it.

The mural will surround the parks herpetology aquariums.
Courtesy Kelly Cook

“We’ve been working lately to incorporate the arts and with our natural resources message, so I think it would be great if we could get a variety of people that would be willing to collaborate on it,” Cook said.

The park has $500 in grant money to pay for the work and additional money for paint, brushes and other art supplies. If someone or a group of people would be willing to volunteer their time, they would receive an annual state parks pass, Cook said. The grant money would then be used for other aspects of the project.

The park is also looking for someone with carpentry skills who would be willing to volunteer to finish building a mine cart for the Visitor’s Center. Cook explained the park already has the design and the supplies; staff are just looking for some handiwork to build it.

Elements of the new displays are already in place and can be seen by at the visitor’s center at 61105 Routt County Road 129, north of Clark.

To volunteer on the projects or get more information, contact Cook via email at kellya.cook@state.co.us or call the park at 970-879-3922.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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