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With spring runoff surging along, river levels are high (currently running near 3,000 cubic feet per second) and water temperatures remain low, creating potentially hazardous conditions without proper river safety, equipment and etiquette.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue and Steamboat Springs Police urge residents and guests to exercise extra caution around fast-moving streams and rivers at all times, but especially during the spring runoff season, which is showing increased signs of strengthening with continued melt off.
"It's easy to be complacent around the Yampa River and our other water bodies because there is so much recreation on them,” said Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart. “However in the springtime, the high water and cold temperatures poses significant risks.”
The Yampa River is one of Steamboat Springs’ popular recreation locations. Rafters, kayakers and SUPers, should always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and practice river safety. Recreational tubers should follow the same guidelines and wait until flows drop below 700cfs before venturing into the river.
In addition, bridges such as the railroad bridge (behind the Flower Mill), 5th Street Bridge and the ones downriver near Steamboat II and the Steamboat Golf Club bring additional hazards and low clearance issues. When flows exceed 2,400 cfs, traveling under these bridges is not recommended.
If you lose a water craft on the river, let public safety responders know you’re okay. Each year numerous calls of concern are received when an empty craft is seen floating downriver. If you do lose your kayak/SUP/raft, call the non-emergency dispatch number 970.879.1144 with the location and description of your vessel. First of all, dispatch will be happy to know you’re okay; and, that there’s no cause for emergency services to respond.
Steamboat Springs Police & Fire Rescue recommend the following tips to help ensure a fun and safe season on the Yampa River, lakes and reservoirs.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue is trained in swift water rescue and ready to respond; however, the best deterrent to requiring their assistance is individual responsibility, river awareness, safety knowledge and common-sense. Please be safe this season as we all enjoy the Yampa River and local waterways.
ContactMel Stewart, Fire Chief, 970.879.7170 or emailAnnette Dopplick, Police Commander, 970.879.4344 or emailMichael Lane, Communications Manager, 970.871.8220 or email