Rifle Gap boating season begins March 31; boaters have responsibilities

RBC | Water lovers take note—Rifle Gap State Park, one of Western Colorado’s most scenic and popular outdoor recreation areas, will open its ramps March 31. Colorado Parks and Wildlife invites everyone to come out and enjoy a variety of water-based outdoor recreation, including boating, jet skiing, sailing, water skiing and swimming. In addition Rifle Gap also offers hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, camping, fishing and a variety of camping options.

Park personnel reminds the public that safety is the key to having fun on the water and  attention to boating rules and regulations is required from all participants at all times.

“Fishing and boating are great here and we look forward to another fantastic season,” said Rifle Gap State Park Manager Brian Palcer. “But before you head out, we strongly recommend that you pay attention to a few things that will help keep you safe, and legal.”

Palcer reminds boaters to be sure their vessel is registered, check that all of the required safety gear is on board and in good condition and remember that alcohol and boating do not mix.

“A fun day on the water can turn tragic very quickly if you don’t follow the rules, or have the basic equipment on board,” he said. “We will be out everyday to help folks follow the rules so everyone can have a great time at a great park.”

Before launching, boaters must have a few basic items on board, including personal flotation devices, a sound producing device, fire extinguisher, navigation lights and a current boat registration with visible registration numbers placed on the watercraft.

Colorado boating regulations require that all children under the age of 13 wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.

For more information about required equipment and boating regulations, pick up the latest regulations brochure at your local park visitor center or find the information on the CPW website.

“We can even perform a free equipment inspection to make sure you have what you need, and that it’s in good shape,” said Palcer. “Just let us know how we can help.”

In addition to safety, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is continuing efforts to prevent the spread of harmful, aquatic nuisance species through boat inspections stations across the state. Boaters are urged to do their part to help prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels, among other invaders, into the state’s waterways.

“Invasive species are a constant threat to our waters,” Palcer said. “We have managed to prevent an infestation in the state so far but we need to stay vigilant, and we need the public’s cooperation. Follow inspection rules and always remember to clean, drain and dry your vessel.”

Palcer says due to limited funding for an inspection station, the boat ramp at nearby Harvey Gap State Park will remain closed once again this year. Vessels normally exempt from the ANS inspection requirements can hand-launch their watercraft. These include rafts, kayaks, belly boats, float tubes, canoes, windsurfer boards, sail-boards, paddle boards and collapsible boats.

At Rifle Gap Reservoir, the ANS inspection hours are as following:

March 31, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

May 1, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

May 18, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Anyone wishing to boat at Rifle Gap Reservoir outside of these hours must obtain a seal and receipt from a certified ANS boat inspector and drop the seal and receipt in the pre-inspection drop box prior to launch.

The public is advised to read posted inspection and decontamination schedules for changes as the boating season progresses.

Visit the CPW website for more information for Rifle Gap State Park and  Harvey Gap State Park.

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