Steamboat club exploring options for more parking in Columbine area
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Lake Snow Club is working with Routt County and the U.S. Forest Service to create more parking opportunities in the Columbine area north of Steamboat Springs.
“The number of winter sports enthusiasts has grown due to COVID, so the Columbine community of residents has needed a solution,” Todd Zvork, president of Steamboat Lake Snow Club, said.
Brendan Kelly, recreation specialist with the Forest Service, said future solutions could include a new parking lot north of the Columbine area, but this year, the groups are encouraging recreators to park in the Quarry Lot, which visitors can check the capacity of on Steamboat Lake Snow Club’s Facebook page. If that lot is full, those using the space are encouraged to park at Steamboat Lake State Park, Kelly said.
“We don’t want trailers and trucks parked out on the side of Routt County Road 129,” Zvork said. “Having everyone up here and on the side of the road could impede emergency vehicles, and people live here — this is their home.”
Todd Krentz, vice president of the club, said parking on Buffalo and Rabbit Ears passes has become a huge problem, and the North Routt groups hope to ensure the same does not happen in Columbine.
“We’re trying to provide an alternative before Columbine parking becomes a big issue,” Krentz said. “We want people to still come up and participate in the snow activities, but we also want them to be safe.”
Kelly and Krentz said before the county and Forest Service can build a new parking lot, they will have to figure out how to plow snow in the area, which the county is responsible for.
“It requires a consistent enough plowing, so people wouldn’t get stuck in the snow,” Krentz said. “The lot fills up super quickly, and there’s not any other public parking anywhere near there.”
Until the three entities are able to implement other parking options in the area, Kelly said the Quarry Lot remains the best option.
“We want to provide visitors a safe spot to park and use bathroom facilities,” Zvork said. “We want to find a good alternative as opposed to just letting it become a major problem like some of those areas in the county.”
The Forest Service implemented parking specifically for snowmobiles on Rabbit Ears Pass in 2016, which U.S. Forest Service Hahn’s Peak Ranger District recreation program manager Kent Foster said was necessary due to more people recreating in the area.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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