Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

The Yampa is Wild

05/31/2018 04:27PM ● By Alesha Damerville

Image from Friends of the Yampa

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS– For the last 38 years, the Yampa River Festival has been the unofficial kick-off of summer in Steamboat Springs. Boaters and anglers descend on the Yampa River to achieve greatness in their respective sports.

The Yampa River Festival is Friends of the Yampa’s signature event to raise awareness about the wild Yampa River. Friends of the Yampa, established in 1980, is a local watershed group dedicated to giving the river a voice and protect it. “We love our river festival. It’s a great celebration of the Yampa River and the community of Northwest Colorado,” says Kent Vertrees, president of Friends of the Yampa. “We celebrate the river all times of the year, but we host this event to really throw down and bring the tribe together.”

The river fest is held the weekend after Memorial Day and includes a variety of recreational events in and around the river, as well has parties, fundraisers and speaking functions.

“The Yampa is a special river in a lot of ways,” Vertrees says.“It doesn’t have a lot of reservoirs upstream that impact the flow. We get a lot of snow, so we have big runoff years, maybe not this year necessarily, but some years it floods its banks which are connected to the wetlands and side-channels. A lot of rivers are managed to the point where you push a button and tell the river to flow. This river is flowing naturally.” 

The Yampa river flows through 270 miles of Northwest Colorado before joining the Green River in Dinosaur National Park. The Yampa River flows mostly unimpeded and its wild nature is unique among the Colorado River system that is otherwise controlled.

The Yampa River Festival has something for everyone. If you aren’t inclined to participate, there are plenty of opportunities to spectate and show your respect for the Yampa River at this year’s Yampa River Festival.

 Events at theYampa River Festival:

·     Friday, June 1: Fish Creek Race

o  6-7pm – a sprint event from the Mount Werner Water treatment facility to Steamboat Blvd road on Fish Creek

·     Saturday, June 2: Riverside Events, based at Charlie’s Hole near the Bud Werner Memorial Library and Fetcher Pond

o  Noon-7pm – an assortment of stand-up paddle board, Crazy River Dog, raft, kayak, tube and pack raftevents, vendors and beer garden

·     Sunday, June 3: Kayak Slalom event at Rich Weiss Park

o  11am-Noon – a classic kayaking slalom


For more information visit