Tubing kicks off in Steamboat, though the Yampa River is still a rough ride | SteamboatToday.com

Tubing kicks off in Steamboat, though the Yampa River is still a rough ride

Steamboat Springs’ Keane Snider looks to land a trout Monday on the Yampa River as tubers float past his spot. The river level has fallen, as the spring runoff has slowed, allowing for tubing, fishing and cooling off.
John F. Russell

Editor’s note: Precipitation data in the last paragraph was corrected at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 16.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Yampa River has finally fallen to a level that allows for commercial tubing.

On Monday, the river dropped below 700 cubic feet per second through downtown Steamboat Springs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the flow rate that typically kicks off tubing with commercial outfitters.

Backdoor Sports owner Peter Van De Carr said he sent about 24 tubers downriver Monday. His operations are currently open to adults and older teens, depending on day-to-day flow rate.

Van De Carr said there are still many hydraulics — river features where water drops over a rock or other obstruction — at and below the surface.

“It’s still got some force to it,” he said. “As the water goes down, those undercurrents tend to lighten up quite a bit.”

Though lower than it has been all summer, the river is still running quickly, with water temperatures around 60 degrees. The city of Steamboat Springs — and commercial outfitters — recommend wearing a life jacket on the water, even when on a tube.

Van De Carr reminded tubers the Yampa is no lazy river, and while many aim to pick up after themselves, swift water frequently carries away flip flops and beer cans away from those with the best of intentions. Even if you want to ignore recommendations not to drink alcohol on the river, the river moves so quickly, that beer can will likely be swept downstream, polluting the river.  

“Beverages just don’t make sense here,” he said. “There’s just too much going on.”

Stay safe and obey the rules on the river
  • Dogs are allowed on the river, as long as they are on a leash.
  • Life jackets, flotation devices and footwear that will not come off in water are the recommended
  • No alcohol and no glass
  • No bathing or diapers in the river
  • No littering
  • No styrofoam coolers
  • Respect other river users such as anglers, kayakers and waders
  • Respect private property

Source: City of Steamboat Springs

“I don’t want people to be afraid of it, but I want people — just like we say all the time — to be respectful of it,” Van De Carr said. “It’s a force.” 

Van De Carr said the tubers should watch and be prepared for the take-out at the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe bridge, as the water is still deep and flowing fast at the exit.

At this point last year, the river had been open to tubers since June 11 and closed to tubing, fishing and other recreation July 9. Flows on the Yampa on this date in 2018 were around 90 cfs, with water temperatures near 70 degrees.

Steamboat Springs has received 0.47 inches of precipitation this July, according to data from a National Weather Service weather station. The long-term average for the month of July is 1.54 inches.

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

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