New playground selected to replace the Yampa River Queen |

New playground selected to replace the Yampa River Queen

Artist rendering of a new playground slated to replace the old Yampa River Queen playset in West Lincoln Park, which was removed last year.
Courtesy city of Steamboat Springs

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Gone is the Yampa Valley’s only steamboat, the Yampa River Queen, the playset once stationed alongside the Yampa River Core Trail in West Lincoln Park. Soon, a new playground will take its place, as the city plans to order playground equipment this week.

On Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council approved purchasing equipment to install the playground in West Lincoln Park later this year. Council members also directed staff to explore the possibility and cost of a larger footprint to allow for additional structures, such as a slack line or some sort of shade structure.

The budget was a limiting factor in what was proposed for the playground. To meet its approximately $139,000 budget, a slack line was eliminated from the project. Some council members wanted to price out a larger footprint in the park to accommodate the addition of a slack line or other structures later if more funding became available.

The playground centers around a natural theme, including:

  • A slide and arch made to look like sandstone in the area
  • A series of synthetic logs to balance and jump on
  • A glider swing
  • A disc-swing that allows multiple users to sit on it at the same time
  • A spinner that allows kids to climb on a sort of rotating sphere
  • A sandbox
  • Outdoor instruments, including xylophone, chimes set and drums.  

For the past two years, a citizens committee affiliated with Steamboat Creates has worked to “reimagine” West Lincoln Park after the River Queen playset was removed for safety concerns as wooden elements of the structure started to decay.

The committee helped vet playground proposals from six companies who responded to a request for proposals and selected A to Z Recreation as the contractor. Then, city staff and the committee modified the proposal to best fit the committee’s goal.

In public comment, members of Steamboat Creates voiced disapproval for the arch, labeled in schematics as a “Moab arch.” The group supported a large climbing structure made to look like a rock cairn instead.

Courtesy city of Steamboat Springs

“This is indicative of Steamboat Springs, and a Moab arch structure has nothing to do with the authenticity of this place,” said Steamboat Creates Executive Director Kim Keith. “That’s a huge concern that we have.”

Only one council member — Sonja Macys — agreed that the arch should not be included in the playground. She said she did not want to “introduce elements of Utah’s culture into our playgrounds.”

“Kids are supposed to learn about nature from these things as well, so I personally don’t like the Moab arch at all. I think the cairn structure looks like an unfortunate emoji, so I would say ‘no’ on that one,” she said, garnering a laugh from fellow council members.

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Council Member Heather Sloop was the first to voice support for the arch. She said her two children, who are younger than 10 years old, regularly used the park until the River Queen disassembly began last year.

“I think the Moab arch is a rock star, because you can play hide and seek in that thing and you can climb on it, and it is super cool,” she said. “I think it’s a really great asset, because … I can see 12 kids up there trying to do king of the mountain on that thing.”

Ultimately, the arch remained in the plan as several council members thought it simply looked more fun to play on.

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

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