Yampa River Botanic Park opens Monday, celebrates 25th anniversary

The first tulips bloom at the Yampa River Botanic Park in Steamboat Springs, April 2022.
Spencer Powell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Bob Enever’s childhood was not peaceful, but his legacy is.

Horticulture is a big part of life in England, and it was a big part of Enever’s childhood there. His mother grew flowers and his father grew vegetables.

Enever was 12 years old and living just south of London during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Enever’s father raised vegetables in the backyard, where there was an air raid shelter made of corrugated iron sheets, half dug into the ground and covered with soil.

Decades later, Enever’s presence in Steamboat is preserved and admired in the Yampa River Botanic Park. He and his wife Audrey founded the park in 1997.

Opening on Monday, April 25, the park is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It is described as a place for serenity and peace.

However, before the flowers and trees were ever planted, Bob and Audrey owned the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, as well as some frontage area along the Yampa River.

Next to the mobile home park was a green six-acre horse pasture, which they acquired from the City of Steamboat Springs in exchange for the rights to build the Yampa River Core Trail through their property.

They later donated the property back to the city in order to make the park.

Bob Enever and his wife Audrey donated the land for the Yampa River Botanic Park, which opened in July 1997.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

After receiving a grant from the city, Bob, Audrey and a landscape architect named Michael Campbell spent the winter of 1994-95 making plans for the park.

Before those plans were complete, Bob and Audrey’s son Peter Enever passed away. Bob and Audrey channeled their grief into the park’s construction.

In 1994, Jeff Morehead, who still lives in the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, looked over his back fence from his patio and saw Enever moving dirt.

“This person came walking across the field towards me from the mobile home park,” Bob recalled. “And it turned out it was this man Jeff Morehead. I had never seen or heard of him before.”

Morehead took a ton of photos, documenting the construction process and the beginning of a close friendship.

<em id="emphasis-299d49c8beeb456dc7e2656b2b09c68c">A hanged print of a photo Jeff Morehead took in 1994. The six-acre horse pasture next to the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park would become the Yampa River Botanic Park. Spencer Powell
Steamboat Pilot

Morehead volunteered his services and is regarded as the Botanic Park’s “first volunteer.” He still volunteers, either helping with the plants or giving tours of “Jeff’s Garden,” which is planted and maintained by Morehead and rests along the berm on the other side of his fence.

Countless other people, volunteers, staff members, city workers and contractors have contributed to growing the botanic park.

On July 12, 1997, the park held its inauguration.

The sun beat down on the park that day. There wasn’t any shade. The large cottonwood trees Bob and Audrey planted were saplings, whose trunks were still supported by metal stakes. There was only one flower garden in the park at the time.

Life in the botanic park was young and the future was bright.

Yoga on the Green is offered over the summer at the Yampa River Botanic Park. It's an excellent way for people to be mindful in a green space.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

The park now boasts 13 colorful garden neighborhoods and 27 sculptures. It hosts many events over the summer including Yoga on the Green, the Fairy Garden House Contest and live music.

This summer’s Passport Through the Botanic Park will be June 25, and visitors can experience international cuisine and wine pairings. This year, guests can experience the 25th Anniversary Garden, which features historic photos of the gardens, volunteers and staff. Reservations for the event start on June 1.

“I have enjoyed living here,” Bob said. “And I’ve known these friends for so long.”

Early morning raindrops cling to the petals of a flower in the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive
Drops of rain cling to the bright green leaves and vegetation at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive
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