Improvements slated for Navajo State Park


Staff Writer

A number of improvement projects have been scheduled by Colorado Parks and Wildlife at Navajo State Park to improve accessibility of the lake to boaters, heighten convenience for park visitors, enhance wildlife habitat and create more opportunities for the public to walk and hike in the park.

Next summer, Navajo Lake boaters will utilize a refinished boat dock. The old boat dock was removed this fall to undergo repairs after being damaged by wind and ice. With repair, the boat dock will be restored to new condition with additional modifications to strengthen it. The newly repaired dock will also be placed in the water in sections to accommodate fluctuating water levels in the lake. A partitioned dock will add both stability and flexibility as sections can be added and removed as water levels change.

Navajo State Park Ranger Doug Secrist explained that fluctuating water levels in the lake are becoming more of a concern as demand for water increases downstream during drought years. At these times, less water enters the reservoir from the San Juan, Piedra and Pine rivers. In addition, more water is being demanded downstream, primarily for irrigation, and the water has to be released. The majority of the water in Navajo reservoir in any given year comes from spring run off — a good snow year means a higher water year at the park. However, climatic variations that drive the amount of snow and spring runoff in addition to changing water demands mean the water level at Navajo can be unpredictable.

Given the length of the old boat dock, boats ran out of room when the water level was low in the lake. A sectioned dock will help all boaters by making the boat ramp more serviceable even during times of low water. The boat ramp is also scheduled to be resurfaced with concrete overlay before next summer so launching will be smoother next season.

Added amenities to increase convenience for Navajo boaters also include an expanded dry storage facility and a new boat decontamination station. Expansion of the storage facility will accommodate increasing amounts of boating traffic that have accompanied growing visitation to Navajo. More dry storage will allow boaters to store watercraft at the reservoir instead of hauling them back and forth with their vehicles. For dry storage pricing and information contact the park office at 883-2208 or the Two Rivers Marina at 883-2628.

The new decontamination station will be located near the expanded dry storage facility, reducing congestion at the boat ramp and allowing park staff to work more closely with boaters to ensure decontamination of their watercraft. The new decontamination station will allow for better decontamination services on site as part of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program. The two species of primary concern at Navajo State Park are Quagga and Zebra Mussels that could be transferred to the reservoir via watercraft coming from places like Lake Mead, Lake Powell and Pueblo Reservoir where the presence of the mussels has been confirmed.

In addition to these projects, upgrades to the park sewage and sanitation systems will both improve the quality of visitor facilities and reduce park maintenance costs. Park staff plans to begin sewage and sanitation system upgrades in the spring. Changes to these systems will provide better water and sewage services to visitors.

Scheduled improvements will also enhance wildlife viewing and increase hiking opportunities at Navajo. This spring, work will continue on a six-mile hiking trail that will connect the Rosa campground in the main developed part of the park to Arboles Point near the Piedra River inlet on the east side of the park. When complete, the trail will be a multiuse non-motorized trail open to hikers, bikers and equestrians. Along the way, the path will allow visitors to access the Windsurf Beach campground and watchable wildlife area where they are likely to see gold and bald eagles, a variety of water fowl, deer and elk. The Piedra trail project has been underway for several years, but park staff plan to complete it this spring.

The Sambrito Wetlands area of Navajo State Park will also be improved using a $50,000 wetlands program grant. This spring, the basic infrastructure that delivers water to the wetlands will be repaired and restored. Scheduled improvements will allow park staff and land managers to better control water flow to the wetlands and supply them with water more consistently. Infrastructure improvements will facilitate controlled management of a critical habitat resource, benefiting many wildlife species and plant communities that depend on the wetland. Improvements will also enhance waterfowl hunting opportunities at the wetlands. Volunteer help from invested parties will be critical to the completion of this project.

Navajo State Park is open to visitors year round. The Rosa campground is accessible all year as is one rental cabin. For more information about scheduled improvements, facilities and activities contact the park office at 970-883-2208 or visit