The San Luis Valley Outdoor Report for the week of March 20. This report is updated every two weeks following each recording of The Outdoor Citizen podcast.
THE latest episode of The Outdoor Citizen podcast features a conversation with Kathy Faz from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Visit Alamosa’s Elizabeth Sumner. They talk to host Marty Jones about the upcoming We Love Our National Park celebrations during the month of April. Listen in HERE.
An American eagle hanging out on the Rio Grande just beyond the East Alamosa bridge early Wednesday, March 22, was the perfect counter to the heavy winds that arrived later. We reached out to Monte Vista biologist Jenny Nehring to get her thoughts on seeing the bird near the Alamosa riverbanks.
An American eagle is an adult bald eagle. It takes four years to get to that “full adult plumage,” said Nehring. “They are mostly scavengers; this one might be eating carp that died frozen in a slough or perhaps a duck or goose.”
Become a Citizen Outdoor Field Correspondent
Spotting a bird in the early morning is what makes trailing along the Rio Grande a pleasurable adventure. We also want to hear from all of you on the outdoor conditions you’re experiencing across this great high mountain desert. Whether you’re biking, trailing, or just enjoying and experiencing the outdoors – day or night – record an audio file on your smartphone and send it to us and we’ll play it on The Outdoor Citizen podcast. We would enjoy seeing a photograph as well. You can email material to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to this field report form correspondent Maddy Ahlborn from the Great Sand Dunes National Park: Maddy’s Report.
Wolf Creek Ski Area has received 17 inches of snow over the last day and 57 inches over the past week. They are reporting 173-inch summit depth and a 437-inch season total. The ski area is 100 percent open, with 9 of 10 lifts operational. There is a winter storm warning currently in effect for the ski area. Wolf Creek has been at the brunt of the atmospheric river system that has moved east over the past week. The rest of the week will produce high snow and high wind.
Monarch Mountain has received 16 inches over the past week. It is 100 percent open with 5 of 7 lifts operational. Monarch is reporting a 75-inch base and 240-inch season total. Monarch will be seeing much of the same weather as Wolf Creek, with a winter storm advisory in effect. There is a high chance for lots of snow and lots of wind for the rest of the week, but it won’t be quite as severe as Wolf Creek.
Taos Ski Valley has received 30 inches this past week. It is reporting a 94-inch summit depth. The weather system also has Taos in its sights, causing a winter storm warning for the ski area.
If you’re still looking to get out on a skinnier pair of sticks before all the snow melts, we’ve got the latest …
SAN JUAN NORDIC CLUB GROOMING REPORT
Big Meadows, March 18: Big Meadows groomed for the last time.
Rock Creek, March 17: Received six to eight inches on March 17. Grooming is finished for the season, but there is still nice ungroomed skiing to be had after this last storm. Remember your glide wax. It gets sticky in the sunny spots. The heavy snow made for a decent base. Get the snow before it’s gone!!!!
Trail information for other local clubs and ski/snowshoe areas
Upper Rio Grande Nordic Club Trails (URGNC Membership Form Link)
March 17: Sixmile Flats groomed. Still pretty good snow on the eastern half, but getting sparse on the western section. This is most likely the last we’ll groom out there this season.
March 10: Deep Creek groomed
March 3: Ivy/Lime Creek groomed
South Fork Nordic Club Trails (South Fork Nordic Website)
Finished for the season
Wolf Creek Ski Area Nordic Trails (Wolf Creek Ski Area Website)
March 13: The Meadow Loop and Lake Spur Nordic Trails were groomed and track set.
Chama Ski Trails (Website for the Chama Chile Classic Race, also a link to the map with their trailhead) Finished for the season
Pagosa Nordic Club Trails: See Grooming Report here
Avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE right now, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. An avalanche watch is in effect until Thursday evening.
Heavy snowfall and strong winds will produce natural avalanches. Human-triggered avalanches will be very likely. The CAIC says to avoid backcountry avalanche terrain during this time. In an Instagram post Monday morning the CAIC wrote, “This is the time to throttle back our terrain decisions.”
Snowfall and wind will continue to create dangerous avalanche conditions and increasing hazard as the day progresses on Tuesday.
Colorado backcountry avalanche conditions are updated every evening at 4:30 p.m. For the full forecast details and more, go to Avalanche.state.co.us
UPPER RIO GRANDE FLOW NUMBERS
The gauge in Alamosa is reading a discharge of 240 cfs, the gauge in Monte Vista is reading 205 cfs, and in Del Norte is reading 208 cfs.
The USDA is reporting 14.4 inches of equivalent snow water in the Upper Rio Grande at the beginning of March 20 week. Last year we were at 11.4 inches.
State of Basin: The fifth annual Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium will be held on Saturday, May 6, at Adams State University. Sponsored by the Adams State Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, the symposium will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and breakfast.
The keynote address will be given by Craig Childs, an Arizona native who now lives in western Colorado. He is the winner of the 2009 Rowell Art of Adventure Award for his efforts focusing on natural sciences, archaeology, and journeys into the global wilderness as a writer and traveler.
Other presenters will include Colorado Division of Water Resource Division engineers Craig Cotton and Kevin Rein, Rio Grande Farm Park Program Director Seth Armentrout, and Colorado Water Conservation Board member Nathan Coombs.
The Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium is free and open to the public. You can find more information HERE at Alamosa Citizen.
Community Risk Reduction: The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and its partners will take part in Community Risk Reduction Week on Tuesday, March 28. The multi-agency event focuses on the issues fire departments, other public safety officials, and community leaders often face in mitigating safety risks, along with solutions, tools, and strategies to address them. The March 28 event will be held at Adams State University’s Campus Green area from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be live demonstrations, open to the public, that include:
A Search and Rescue helicopter display
Stove-top cooking safety
Vehicle rollover demonstration by the Colorado State Patrol
Smoke alarm program
Child car seat safety
Fire extinguisher training program
Colorado mobile food truck safety
A live-fire demonstration of home fire sprinklers
Live Fire Firefighter Training Unit
All sounds worthwhile and worth attending, if you can.
Other things to remember:
Fishing Licenses: Fishing licenses for the 2023-2024 season are now available. You can purchase at any of the local CPW offices, at one of many authorized retailers around the state, or HERE.
Prescribed Burns: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct prescribed burns this spring on the Alamosa, Baca, and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges to remove old, matted vegetation to improve wildlife habitat. Target dates are late March and likely to extend through mid-April. Watch for those.
Big Game: The April 4 deadline is approaching to submit an application for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2023 Colorado Big Game Primary Draw. Changes and fees can be reviewed in the 2023 Big Game Hunting brochure. More info HERE.
Shed Hunting: Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public that collection of shed antlers on all public lands west of Interstate 25 is prohibited from Jan. 1 through April 30. This restriction is in place to help protect wintering big-game animals and sage grouse from human disturbance during the critical winter and early spring months.
That’s it for what’s been going on around the Valley, next up we’ll give you some info on this weekend’s big events.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The next meeting of the SLV Chapter of Trout Unlimited is Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. at the Alamosa Senior Center at the north end of Cole Park.
On March 30, the San Juan Nordic Club will host its Spring Social and Annual Meeting. The event will be at the Mountain View Restaurant in Monte Vista beginning at 5:30 p.m. You can meet fellow ski enthusiasts, provide input for the 2023/24 ski season, and hear updates from San Juan Nordic Club board members.
Also On March 30, SLV GO! and partners will have their regular coalition meeting from 3-5 p.m. via Zoom. As a reminder, SLV GO! and partners are looking to add volunteers to a Community Data and Analysis Committee, Wildlife and Recreating Mapping Committee, and Writing Committee to start working on deliverables for the Colorado Regional Partnership Initiative. Reach out to SLV GO! If interested.
The 13th annual San Luis Valley Seed Exchange will take place on Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2, at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa. This is a good opportunity to exchange seeds for your summer garden planting. The seed exchange will begin at 10 a.m. each day. You can find more information HERE or on The Valley Calendar.
The Valley Calendar is the most comprehensive listing of events from across the San Luis Valley. Make sure to check it out and stay up to date.
It’s coming up fast: The Third Annual Valley Bottom Rio Trio is happening May 27. The race is run right on the Rio Grande in Alamosa. This year’s race will feature an 8-mile trail bike ride, a 3-mile river paddle, and a 5k run. Find registration info at RioRaces.com.