Access for float fisherman on the Colorado River in the past few years has increased dramatically due to the completion of four of five newly-improved river access points, courtesy of the Eagle County Open Space Program.
The latest ramp to be opened is situated on a little-known section of Eagle County known as the Horse Creek River Access–a two-acre easement on the public 1,000-acre Colorado River Ranch, located about 12 miles from the Colorado and Colorado River Road, from the Eagle River confluence in Dotsero. Found about five miles above Cottonwood River Access, the Horse Creek River Access fills a void in the map of public access points by connecting the “middle” Colorado, as it winds its way upstream about six miles to Pinball Point River Access. Depending on river flow volume and the wind, fishermen can break what was a 12-mile float into more manageable six-mile floats.
“Our objective overall was to conserve significant habitat, and we’ve done that by setting aside over four miles of riverfront and over 1,250 acres along the Colorado,” said Eagle County Open Space Program Director Toby Spunk.
Benefits of Improved River Access
Having float fished this portion of the river for the better part of the last 30 years; it’s been a long time coming. Until recently, private ranches along the waterway have been one of the only options for both the public and commercial boating communities. As truly one of the most remote and beautiful sections of the Colorado River, this under fished waterway holds some of the rivers largest trout. This stretch is also home to a fantastic amount of water fowl and wildlife. It is not uncommon to see bighorn sheep along the steep canyon walls, eagles circling overhead, mink running along the bank, or river otters swimming in the water.
Beginning three years ago with the purchase and improvement of State Bridge River Access, both Eagle County and the Bureau of Land Management have dedicated resources to buying land. They also have dedicated to developing improvements like bathrooms, cement boat ramps, and large graded parking areas. This is huge benefit to all who float the Colorado River.
Eagle County Open Space Program purchased and refurbished the boat ramp commonly referred to as Two Bridges River Access in 2012, which is just four miles below State Bridge River Access. This links State Bridge River Access to an easy four mile float down river to Two Bridges River Access. The new access is only about eight miles from Catamount River Access allowing for an easy day trip.
For any boating angler who has been excited to float fish the Colorado River in Dotsero in the past year, changes to the new boat launch at the Confluence River Park Access are noticeable. First off, the launch is located very close the old river. There is also a new permanent cement access ramp, bath rooms, and a large parking area. The old ramp was plagued with a dirt launch, poor access during the rafting season, and a small, poorly-adapted parking area.
Future Improvements to River Access
The next improvement scheduled is an access site recently acquired at the confluence of Derby Creek about 22 miles from Dotsero. This is a great spot for a boat launch, but development and a potential opening date are still in question. In the meantime, let’s all be grateful for the new launch site, and the fact that we live and can recreate in Eagle County! Come by Vail Valley Anglers retail store in Edwards for a map, directions or current fishing reports on this section of the Colorado River.