Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach ice conditions report

Russell Cook drills a hole in the Stagecoach Reservoir ice during the 2014 Steamboat Great Outdoors Ice Fishing Tournament. Both Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake await better ice conditions for the 2022/23 ice fishing season to begin.
Michael Armstrong/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

More ice needs to form before conditions at both Steamboat Lake State Park and Stagecoach State Park are safe enough for recreational use. 

As of Friday, Dec. 2, Steamboat Lake State Park reported six inches of ice around areas of the lake, but the full extent of the lake has not yet frozen over. The state park asks for patience as it is entirely up to Mother Nature when the lake will freeze enough for ice fishing.

Stagecoach State Park has reported similar conditions with ice just barely starting to form and not nearly enough to walk on the lake.

The No. 1 concern for both state parks is safety. The ice needs to be approximately four inches thick to be strong enough for a person with gear to walk on, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

The CPW website also states five inches of ice can begin supporting small groups of people and it takes six inches for the ice to safely hold an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile. Eight or more inches can hold small vehicles, but for someone to drive a pickup truck on the ice, it should be at least a foot thick.

When stepping onto the ice, people should be alert and know when it is too dangerous to continue. CPW suggests drilling test holes no farther than 30 feet apart to check ice thickness. 

Once you have drilled enough holes and the ice looks thick enough, you are likely good to go across. 

In the winter season, it is common to hear the ice crack or pop. CPW says that simply means the ice is growing. If you hear the cracking noises in the spring, it means the ice is not safe for fishing. 

Always remember before adventuring onto the ice that there is little cell phone reception at both state parks and it is important to let someone close to you know when and where you are going before stepping on the ice. 

Historically, both state parks open in late December with Steamboat Lake typically opening a couple days or weeks earlier than Stagecoach.

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