Better luck this year? With lake levels rising and afternoon rains falling, campground officials are feeling optimistic |

Better luck this year? With lake levels rising and afternoon rains falling, campground officials are feeling optimistic

SUMMIT COUNTY – The water’s up, the fire danger is down and Richard and Betty Hayworth are hoping their campgrounds will be full this year.

“Everything is looking up right now, with the lake up and no fire bans,” Richard said. He and Betty are the area managers for Thousand Trails, a U.S. Forest Service concessionaire. They oversee campgrounds in Dillon and Holy Cross Ranger Districts.

In Summit County, there are eight campgrounds – five around Dillon Reservoir, one north of Silverthorne and two at Green Mountain Reservoir.

“We’re encouraged,” he said.

As with most businesses depend that on tourists, Thousand Trails took a financial beating last year. Not only did it lose potential campers to news of the statewide wildfires, but many campers were discouraged by the fire bans.

“Campfires are such a big part of the camping experience,” Richard said.

“We worked in another area last year, and as soon as you couldn’t have campfires, we saw a definite drop in campers,” Betty said.

The campgrounds around Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs also lost campers who normally came to boat. Thousand Trails manages a boat ramp at each reservoir, and neither was operable last year. And some campers at Pine Cove on the Frisco peninsula departed when winds pelted their campsites with dust and sand from what used to be the lake.

Campground revenues were down about 30 percent last year in Summit and Eagle counties. Pine Cove and campgrounds at Green Mountain reservoir were hit hardest – with revenues down 90 percent or more, said former area manager Garland Young.

Business this season started out slow but seems to be making a comeback, Richard said. Two of the campgrounds were full, for the first time this year, this weekend.

Kyle and Joanna Prewitt of Colorado Springs were among the campers at Pine Cove Sunday. They only camped a few times last year, discouraged by the fires and the drought.

“I think we drove up here once and there was no lake,” Kyle Prewitt said. “The whole environment was depressing.”

This is the first time Mollie Winfield and Travis Jewett of St. Louis have camped in Summit County. They usually camp in Rocky Mountain National Park when they visit Colorado. It was a coincidence they didn’t spend their summer vacation in Colorado last year, they said, but they did have friends who canceled their Colorado trips because of the forest fires.

The reservoirs haven’t yet returned to normal levels, but the water is steadily rising – it’s already started to lap at the base of the boat ramps – and the afternoon rains have helped control the dust from the shores, Betty Hayworth said.

“It looks beautiful,” said Bill Donohue, of Denver, who is camping with his wife, Nancy, for three days at Pine Cove. They like camping in Summit County because of its proximity to Denver, the plentiful hiking, the fishing and the nearby restaurants, he said.

The Forest Service boat ramps at Dillon and Green Mountain reservoir should be open and ready for boaters by Independence Day. The fishing already is off to a good start, Richard said.

“Our campers are reporting good catches and big catches,” he said.

It’s still too soon to know how the Summit County camping season will pan out, but the Hayworths are optimistic. With the lake levels rising and the afternoon rains keeping the county green, the campers should keep coming, Betty said.

The peak season for camping in Summit County started this weekend and should continue into the first week of August, Richard Hayworth said. Most of the campgrounds will close Sept. 7, though some will remain open until Oct. 12.

For information or to make reservations, visit the Web at or or call (877) 444-6777.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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