Water recreation abounds on fast-filling lake
A first-time passerby who sees the Dillon Reservoir this June would never believe it was a mere puddle last summer.
Representatives of Denver Water Board, which owns the reservoir, say it is miraculous that the water levels could rise in just a year and recover so quickly from 2002, the worst drought season the reservoir ever saw. Also, those who thrive on the lake as a source of recreation and livelihood are issuing heavy sighs of relief that it will be “business as usual” this summer. As of Sunday, the reservoir was 64.4 percent full, and water board officials expect it to be close to entirely full by the end of July.
“There’s a whole group of people who can’t live without water and who have their own boats,” said Bernie Baltich, owner of Osprey Adventures, which operates the Frisco Marina. “It’s going to be business as usual down here this summer, and (the lake) is still filling up. We’re probably far beyond where we needed the season last year as far as the depth of water. We’re hoping to forget about the drought.”
The Frisco side of Dillon Reservoir suffered the most during last summer’s low water levels, as it is the shallow area of the lake. Even at the deeper end where the Dillon Marina was located last year, docks were strewn for hundreds of yards across the sprawling, dry shoreline to reach the boats.
“We weren’t hiking a mile to the docks last year, but we were hiking a couple hundred yards,” said Dillon Marina and Yacht Club manager Bob Evans. “We have a lot of leftover walkways from last year. But, I’m looking at where (the water level) is now, and it’s about even to where it was last September, when it was its highest.”
As far as inflow into the reservoir, Denver Water Board representatives say the numbers are more than quadruple what they ever were last year.
“The reservoir is rising very rapidly right now,” said Denver Water Board planner Mark Waage. “The inflow is up to 2,100 cfs (cubic feet per second). At its peak last year, which occurred the first week in June, it was 500 cfs. We had a pretty dry May. What we need is some rain in addition to the snow melt to get Dillon full. But the big reason we think the reservoir will be full or almost full is the heavy-duty watering restrictions our customers are under right now. There’s going to be a lot more water in the reservoir this year.”
Rowers will be pleased they won’t have to walk half the expanse of the lakeshore with their boats and sculls to reach the water from Frisco this summer. Stewart LeTour, owner of Team Managers Ski, Bicycle and Rowing Co. said rowing is already under way this season.
“Our dock is already in better shape right now that it ever was last year,” he said. “It’s amazing just how much the water is coming up every day. To be on the water first thing in the morning, it’s crystal … glass-like. It’s really going to help everyone, having water in the lake. It’s a different approach to the outdoors and the county when you see things from the lake. We’re just waiting for the docks to float.”
While some recreationists thrive on outdoor activities on land, others are die-hards for the water, and marina operators are pleased to know the sailors, rowers, fisherman and paddlers are going to get their fix this summer.
“We have a huge following of people and a large repeat business,” Baltich said. “There’s a bunch of people who go on vacation and come from a place where there’s a lake. They have their own boats, and when they come up here, the first they do is go out on the lake.”
The Frisco Marina offers lake explorers everything from sea kayaks and canoes to fishing, sailing and pontoon boats. Rentals start at $18 for two hours for a one-person sea kayak and go up to $105 per hour for a large sailboat.
“We’re not going to put you in a sea kayak if you’ve never been paddling,” Baltich said. “We’ll put you in a wide-bellied touring boat. There’s a strategy to putting people (with different skill levels) into a boat (that suits them). We only have so many boats to put out. It’s not like selling ski passes, where you can just keep putting people on the mountain. We rarely see a crowding problem. It’s a good situation.”
Fishing packages begin at $12 with a boat rental, and marina operators say early summer is a prime time to catch rainbow and brown trout. Osprey Adventures also has a full-service repair shop and sells its canoes and kayaks. Prices, rental and sailing school information at the Frisco Marina can be found at http://www.ospreyadventuresusa.com, or by calling (970) 668-5573.
Team Managers Ski,
Bicycle and Rowing Co.
Team Managers carries several sizes of rowboats and sculls. Rowing clinics begin June 28 and run seven days a week for $80 per day. Learn-to-row three-day clinics are $150 and women-specific rowing clinics take place July 12-15 and 17-20. For more information, call Team Managers at (970) 668-3748.
The Dillon Marina
The Dillon Marina has a huge variety of sailboats available to rent as well as shop maintenance, slips and moorings, sailing schools and regatta races almost every weekend throughout the summer. Open regatta races take place July 5 and 6 and Aug. 2 and 3. For more information about the Dillon Marina, visit
http://www.dillonmarina.com, or call (970) 468-5100.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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