Yampa River State Park earns grant to install permanent ice rink

The temporary ice rink at Yampa River State Park will be upgraded to a brand new, professional grade ice rink thanks to a newly acquired grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. (Courtesy Yampa River State Park)

HAYDEN — Yampa River State Park has thrown together a temporary ice rink structure for the past few years. Thanks to a $12,342 grant from the Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, the park will be able to install a winter-season professional ice rink in one of the parking lots.

The new rink will be about 40 feet by 80 feet and have curved corners like a hockey rink. The grant will also allow the state park to purchase a more robust shed to hold the loaner gear that the park allows users to borrow, as well as hockey goals.

Park volunteers will help complete the project that will be done in time for people to enjoy it this winter. The rink is the only one in the Hayden area.

“It was a great project. It’s enthusiasm like that within a community of people that we were really drawn to. It just felt like a special project,” said CPW Program Officer for GOCO Adrian Varney. “It lined up with our new strategic plan of leaning towards projects that are driven by the community.”

The grant is from the Director’s Innovation Fund, which is a partnership between GOCO and CPW to fund small-dollar innovative projects that would otherwise not receive funding through other programs.

The first ice rink at Yampa River State Park came a few years ago when staff plowed one of the ponds as a makeshift rink. Of course, pond rinks are finicky and inconsistent, so they soon built a better rink. They created a rink with a plastic liner and a border of 2×12 boards behind the visitor’s center. It was about 30 by 50 feet, and they flooded it with water and waited for it to freeze.

“We surfaced it, so it’s good and smooth and people enjoy their time here,” said Kirk Mahaffie, administrative assistant at Yampa River State Park. “Of course, they can use the facilities with the vehicle (season) pass that’s on their car or they can get a daily pass. It’s just kind of grown over the last couple of years.”

As usage increased, the park expanded amenities, adding a shed to hold skates for people to use at the rink. There is also other gear loaned out, such as snowshoes and skis, that people can use while at the state park. A seating area also grew with a picnic table and a small fire pit. Last year, Walton Mountain Works donated a heap of firewood so skaters could stay warm.

For the past few years, Yampa River State Park has installed a makeshift ice rink for people to use. A recently aquired grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will allow the state park to build a permanent, larger ice rink starting this winter. (Courtesy Yampa River State Park)

“We had a lot of people use it for birthday parties,” Mahaffie said. “Or a lot of groups get together, some homeschool groups get together for activities on the rink, then they can grab snowshoes and skis.”

Additionally, Yampa River State Park grooms a mile and a half trail for cross country skiing — skate and classic. Aside from a 1-mile groomed track at Dry Creek Park, it’s the only public cross country skiing in the Hayden area.

“We’re trying to give people something to do in the area if they don’t want to go fight the crowds at the ski area and some of these other places,” Mahaffie said. “It gives them a place to maybe try something different and just get out and enjoy the day and use the park and get more familiar with what we have to offer.”

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