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Cooperation launches improved river access

The Westbank boat launch on the Roaring Fork River used to be narrow, rutted, rocky and steep. It had a double fall-line and was very awkard to back a trailer down.

To top it off, it was never really legal for boaters to access the river there, as the launch crosses private land.

In spite of its problems, the Westbank launch was the only spot between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs where boaters could get their craft to and from the river. It became part of local boating lore as the end point in the well-loved Satank to Westbank “pink to black” run favored by beginning boaters, and the starting point for the more challenging Cemetery run down into Glenwood Springs.

This year, thanks to some hard work and compromise, the Westbank boat ramp was transformed into a graded, surfaced and best of all, legal, access for boaters.

Credit goes to Pat Tucker and his staff at the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Doug Thoe and his crew at the Garfield County Road and Bridge Department, members of the Roaring Fork Outfitters Association, and landowners Ken Kriz and Bill Hauskins.

Now the Westbank ramp is a cinch for trailers. And it boasts a portable toilet and trash container for the convenience of boaters.

Transforming the Westbank boat launch was an important step in improving public access to one of the valley’s prime recreational assets: the Roaring Fork River.

Its gold medal fishery, rollicking rapids and that wonderful cool, trouty smell are now freely available at a convenient spot between the towns. How lucky we are!

– Heather McGregor, Managing Editor


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