Tour visits three middle towns emphasizing Colorado Riverway

RBC | Last week, two representatives of Rio Blanco County’s nascent White River Alliance joined nearly 30 others for a tour of the Colorado riverway from Silt to Debeque. The tour group initially gathered in Silt’s cottonwood-shaded Island “Dog” Park south of the river on Divide Creek Road. From there, by school bus, the tour went to the Silt Preserve, which is directly south of downtown Silt but across the Interstate and the river, where the group hiked into the river’s southern bank.

The 132-acre Silt Preserve was in irrigated agricultural land abandoned some 15 years back in the face of plans for a significant home development project to meet housing demands expected with oil shale and then oil and gas development. The Aspen Valley Land Trust, their donors and the Town of Silt worked to acquire the property, now owned by the Town, and put it into a conservation easement in 2010. Cattle grazing has been re-instituted; weed, tamarisk and Russian olive controls have been conducted and continue; and now trail development has started so that the property will provide public access to the riverway. The Youth Conservation Corps and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers have helped with trail building. A parking and interpretive area is at the property’s southern edge, just off Colorado River Road. A part of the property is used by the Town to grow pumpkins, corn and gourds for community events.

Rockmageddon in Parachute July 6-8

The heart of Parachute’s river and recreation activity is Cottonwood Park at the river’s edge south of “downtown,” south of the Interstate, on the river’s north side. Town Manager Stuart McArthur reported that big summer activities will begin July 6 with their “Rockmageddon” OHV bash. Friday night a Cruise Parade and drive-in movie (“Logan Lucky”) are scheduled. Saturday, July 7, brings a variety of activities including a trail ride to the Battlement Reservoirs uphill to the south of town, a “Smoked on the Western Slope BBQ Cook Off” contest, a poker run, redneck games, Whack-A-Mole and barrel racing on ATV’s, followed by a concert Saturday night featuring the “Six Million Dollar Band”.

Sunday, July 8, in Parachute brings a Mud Drag Race with $4,000 in added prize money. The sanctioned by the Western Mud Racing Association, starts with a driver’s meeting at 11 a.m. followed by the race at noon. Most all of the Rockmageddon events are free for the spectator, including the Saturday night concert.

The Town of Parachute (ToP) Adventures Center opens for the season this Friday, June 29. ATV, Honda Pioneer side-by-side, inflatable kayak, and tube rentals will be available along with shuttle services from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. into September. For reservations and more information see visitparachute.com, call 970-285-7630 or 970-986-9687. The town is also offering camping in three different areas for the event.

The Town of Debeque has been cleaning up a property on the south side of the river, north of the Interstate, and now features daily jet boat jaunts on the river from that location—a calmer “scenic” and a wilder “adventure” version—as well as custom charter trips. Bookings and other information are available at 970-644-1121 or JetBoatColorado.com.

The Jet Boat outfit advertises the birdlife and other wildlife potential along the river as well as “stunning mountain views of the Book Cliffs, Battlement and Grand Mesas, Western Colorado lore and history.” Lance Stewart, Debeque Town Administrator, is a force behind Debeque doing more to enhance its river corridor. Stewart was the Rangely Town Manager from 2000 to 2008.