Little Yampa Canyon campsites unveiled on Colorado Public Lands Day |

Little Yampa Canyon campsites unveiled on Colorado Public Lands Day

From left, Craig Mayor John Ponikvar, Moffat County Commissioner Ray Beck, Friends of the Yampa Vice President Ben Beall, Yampa River State Park Manager Jacob Brey, Bureau of Land Management Outdoor Recreation Planner Dario Archuelta, Mission Continues Member Calder Young, Director of Colorado River Water Conservation Board Jay Gallagher and Yampa River State Park Ranger Kelli Lewis pose behind a ribbon at the Yampa River State Park South Beach access Saturday.
Eleanor Hasenbeck

CRAIG — About 20 people gathered Saturday at Yampa River State Park’s South Beach access in celebration of Colorado Public Lands Day and improvements to campsites in the Little Yampa Canyon.

Eleven dispersed campsites were identified by the BLM for possible enhancement, and five were selected between the South Beach and Duffy Mountain accesses.

Several organizations have played a role in improving the sites. Colorado Parks and Wildlife provided fire rings, picnic tables and posts that will serve dual-purposes as signs and boat tie offs. The BLM engraved campsite names on to each post, and volunteers from both these government agencies — as well as Friends of the Yampa, the Northwest Colorado Parrotheads and the veterans service group the Mission Continues — gave time to clean up sites, install signs and make other improvements.

The organizations involved hope the campsites will add more recreational value to the stretch of the Yampa between Craig and Duffy Mountain, a portion that can be floated without a permit. This stretch is also unique in that it is largely bordered by public lands, and the water is calmer than more western stretches of the river.

“I think there’s a desire from the communities of Craig and Steamboat to have a flat-water section right in our backyard,” said Ben Beall, vice president of the river advocacy organization Friends of the Yampa. “I mean, this is the Yampa Valley, and you don’t have to go far to enjoy a great stretch of river, especially if you have young kids or something like that.”

Each campsite also received a name. Beall said the organization hoped to “personalize” that stretch of the river, instead of using a numbered site system or coordinates.



There’s “Antlers,” named after the two large antler sheds volunteers found at the site while cleaning it up. “Railroad” was so named to warn campers that coal trains might roll through during the night.

Other sites were named by volunteer groups involved in the projects. The Friends of the Yampa named a large, spacious campsite “Friends.” The spot has enough room for a group of boaters and a tendency to be grazed by what Beall called “four-legged friends:” cows.

There’s also Charliemike, which uses the phonetic alphabet to honor The Mission Continues’ motto: “Continue the Mission.” Finally, perhaps the most meaningful name is “Bubba’s Beach,” named by the Northwest Colorado Parrotheads for Parrothead Mike “Bubba” Brinks, who passed away last year.

“I’m quite honored. I had no idea that the Parrotheads were going to be able to name a campsite,” said Suzanne Brinks, wife of the late Bubba Brinks. “My husband would be so ecstatic. He really would be. He loved the Yampa River.”

“Bubba Brinks was a big guy with a big heart,” said Parrothead John Husband. “It’s a big camp, very well-suited for Bubba, and it’s a really nice place.”

Brey said the most visible part of the improvements to that stretch of the river are now complete, but there’s more to come. CPW is working to market the Little Yampa Canyon sites online and with print brochures. It’s also working to create maps of the sites that will give visitors more information before they hit the river.

Beall added there is opportunity to expand more BLM sites in the area. He said the BLM has reported 11 to 16 different sites in Little Yampa Canyon, and “there is potential to expand some of these sites” in the coming years.

On the river, the organizations are working to combat invasive plant species, including tamarisk and leafy spurge. CPW and the BLM intend to improve signage that designates which lands are publicly and privately owned.

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