Annual volunteer river cleanup coming to Glenwood Springs

A volunteer checks the riverbank for trash near the Whitewater Park in 2017.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

You never know what treasures are submerged toward the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.

Collective community river cleanups in the valley have revealed common items like roadside trash, damaged culverts and, according to one official, bathroom receptacles.

“A toilet was removed from the Roaring Fork one year,” Trent Hyatt, a Glenwood Springs River Commission Liaison, said.

Hundreds of volunteers each year are inspired to walk and clean the banks of these vital Garfield County waterways. Called Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park/Iron Mountain Hot Springs RiverFEST, this vast effort facilitated by the river commission typically yields 10 cubic yards of trash and junk annually.

Hyatt said the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers are extremely important resources for both life and economy. This includes recreation, agriculture and water supplies for cities downriver in Garfield County.

But sometimes people are unaware that the items they discard can be detrimental to the river’s ecosystem, according to Glenwood Springs Public Information Officer Bryana Starbuck. Everything gets down river, and this includes dog feces.

“There’s a common misconception out there that, ‘Oh, it’s natural. It is not. Dog poo is not good for our rivers, and it is not something that we want to flow downstream.”

RiverFEST originally started more than 20 years ago as purely a river cleanup event, Hyatt said. The event has transformed into more of an outdoor-cleanup-and-festival-style event over the past seven years.

“We’re trying to get the volunteers in the morning activated on various streams and rivers and different river segments around town,” Hyatt said. “But then, once they’ve done that hard work, we’re getting them back into Two Rivers Park to enjoy music, free lunch and free beer to celebrate their hard work in the morning.” 

After a grueling Saturday of collecting refuse, Glenwood Springs food truck El Taco Express is providing lunch while volunteers get a beer from local Casey Brewing & Blending. Donations are being accepted.

Grand Junction bluegrass band, Stray Grass, is also putting on a live performance at Two Rivers Park.

“We welcome all the public to come out to the park to listen to music and to potentially spend some time speaking to some of our vendors learning about riverine ecology and other organizations in our region that are working on our rivers,” Hyatt said.

RiverFEST is slated for Aug. 13, with cleanup between 9 a.m.-noon and celebratory festivities at Two Rivers noon-3 p.m. 

People can register the day of cleanup at the pavilion near the boat ramp at Two Rivers Park. To pre-register, visit and click “Details and Registration” toward the left of your screen.

People can also float the rivers to collect trash.

“It’s definitely a great time to grab some friends and give back to the community that we all share and recreate in,” Starbuck said. “Give a little piece of your day, and then our community is so much cleaner and our rivers are in a better position.”


What: RiverFEST

Where: Begins at Two Rivers Park, 740 Devereux Road, Glenwood Springs

When: 9 a.m.-noon for cleanup; celebratory festivities at Two Rivers noon-3 p.m. Aug. 13

How much: Participation is free; donations accepted for festivities


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