Tubing season close but has not arrived yet in Steamboat Springs
June 14, 2017
It is hot and the river looks tempting, but it is still too early to safely tube the Yampa River.
"I can't even warn people enough," said Pete Van De Carr, owner of Backdoor Sports, which rents tubes.
Tubing is a popular recreational activity for both residents and visitors. On busy weekend days, Van De Carr will rent up to 600 tubes.
Van De Carr does not begin renting tubes until flows drop to about 600 cubic feet per second. On Wednesday afternoon, the Yampa was flowing at 1,330 cfs.
Van De Carr is guessing he will begin renting tubes in about 10 days.
"A week from Friday is what we're kind of looking at," Van De Carr said.
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At the beginning, he will only rent to people who are at least 18 years old.
"Only then for the very strong, able-bodied swimmers who don't mind getting rocked," Van De Carr said.
Over the following one to two weeks, he will start renting to those who are younger.
Not only is the water currently very turbulent, but it is also very cold. Steamboat Flyfisher was reporting a water temperature Wednesday of 54 degrees.
"It's melted snow, so your energy gets zapped pretty quickly," Van De Carr said.
According to coldwatersafety.org, 54-degree water can cause a maximum cold shock response, meaning it will cause most people to completely lose control of their breathing very quickly if they are in the water unprotected.
There have already been close calls and tragedies in Colorado waterways.
Just Monday, a woman who was wading in Pearl Lake had to be rescued because she was getting hypothermic after being in the water too long.
Van De Carr wants adults to set a good example. He said his worst fear is a young person getting into trouble in the river.
"It's more the kids that are watching and thinking it's OK to go down," Van De Carr said.
He said setting a good example also means wearing a life jacket.
"Don't wear a life jacket for yourself," Van De Carr said. "Wear it for the little people who are watching you go down" the river.