Dam construction delay to keep Sylvan Lake closed for another summer
Original plan called for project completion in 2018 but work will continue through this summer
EAGLE — It will be another year before campers can visit one of Colorado State Parks proclaimed “crown jewels.”
Dam reconstruction at Sylvan Lake, located 10 miles southeast of Eagle, will continue through the summer of 2019. Originally, reconstruction of the 1940s-era dam was slated for completion by the end of 2018.
“It was an ambitious time frame and it was just more involved than what could be handled last summer,” said Sylvan Lake State Park Supervisor Michael Wall. “We did our best to get it done with the least impact possible to the public and the resource and it basically just took longer than we, and the contractor, expected.”
Wall noted that a new contractor — ESCO Construction from Evergreen — is already on site. “The previous contractor didn’t finish on time so we felt it would be in the best interest of the project to continue with a new contractor,” Wall said. “The new company is going to do the best it can getting things opened up when we say they will.”
Wall estimated the work is more than halfway done with the outlet structure finished and the spillway nearly completed.
“What needs to be done is to finish the concrete pour and then cover the concrete with topsoil and installation of the new bridge,” Wall said.
Re-establishing vegetation, campsites and parking areas are also planned this summer. Wall said the work should all be completed by winter, leaving clean-up and revegetation for the spring of 2020.
“We expect to be open sometime mid-summer 2020,” Wall said. “I can’t be super specific, all I can say is some time next summer.”
While the lake itself and the campsites around it are closed for the dam construction, some Sylvan Lake State Park facilities remain open including:
- Sylvan Lake State Park Visitor Center
- West Brush Creek Trail
- East side camping yurts
- Four upper cabins
Wall said the Interstate 70 signs and the variable message board located at Brush Creek Road and Sylvan Lake Road in Eagle have been effective communication tools to let prospective campers know what’s up at Sylvan Lake.
“We saw very few people coming up last year who hadn’t been informed about it,” Wall said.
With Sylvan Lake closed for another summer, Walking Mountains Community Programs Manager Kaitlyn Merriman said an alternative plan has been developed for this summer.
Walking Mountains traditionally offers Friday and Saturday campfire talks — featuring topics ranging from local geology to bear awareness — at Sylvan Lake and Yeoman Park. This summer, Walking Mountains will shift its programming to Gore Creek Campground while the interpretative staff from Colorado State Parks conducts sessions at Yeoman Park.
“Then, in 2020, we will be back at Sylvan Lake and Yeoman,” Merriman said.
Wall said Sylvan Lake visitors — who traditionally number more than 100,000 people during the course of a year — have been understanding about the construction.
“The park staff is as disappointed about the delay as the visitors are. We love this place too, and we want to see it open,” Wall concluded.
For more information, contact Sylvan Lake State Park at 970-328-2021, or visit the park’s website.
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More base areas open means more space for guests to disperse upon, even if those base area openings don’t translate into more actual terrain openings.