Eagle County Open Space celebrates new motocross park in Gypsum
DRY LAKE MOTOCROSS PARKLocated approximately 4.5 miles north of Interstate 70 on Trail Gulch Road in Gypsum, the park’s secluded location helps reduce the dust and noise that similar parks contend with. Of the 274-acre Dry Lake property, 117 acres of the property are restricted by a conservation easement held by Eagle County Open Space. Portions of the remaining 157 acres are to be used mainly as a motorized recreation course.
GYPSUM — Action sports athlete Windham Miller, of Edwards, started riding a dirt bike when he was 3.
And for the next 18 years, his family was on a constant mission to find him a place to practice.
Motocross families across the state share similar stories. As interest in the sport climbs, places to ride decline. With motocross as their sole motivation for travel, families journey hundreds of miles to and from destinations around the West.
Eagle County is now among those destinations, as the Dry Lake Motocross Park officially opened this month. Those who came together to create it — a long list of people — made the park’s opening official on Monday, Sept. 17, with a ribbon cutting.
Miller entertained the crowd by flying through the air, over the park’s many jumps and features, while his parents celebrated the years of work and thousands of man hours it took to make the park a reality.
To be at the park with his family, “it was so fulfilling,” said Paul Miller, Windham’s father.
The Dry Lake Motocross Park is situated on a 274-acre parcel of property owned by Eagle County Open Space.
It’s the only large, public use motocross park between Denver and Grand Junction on the I-70 corridor.
The Rocky Mountain Sport Riders, a local club that Paul Miller helped create in the mid-1990s, has experienced several near misses over the years in building a park like this one.
After coming close in other areas, and looking at numerous places in Eagle County, the Dry Lake area came up a few years ago.
As a testament to the follow-through the effort took, both of the people Paul Miller cited in his memories of the project coming together have since moved on to new endeavors.
“It wasn’t long ago that we got a call from (former Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll) and Toby Sprunk (former Eagle County Open Space director), and we came out here to check out the land … we were walking around, and Toby’s comment was ‘The Open Space Committee really isn’t in the business of providing opportunities for OHV use, but if there ever was a parcel of land that seemed appropriate for that, this is it,’” Miller recalled.
Sprunk was succeeded by Diane Mauriello, who took over the effort, along with Gypsum’s new town manager, Jeremy Rietmann.
Eagle County Open Space contributed $650,000 to the purchase of the Dry Lake Property, plus an additional $50,000 in transaction costs. The town of Gypsum provided more than $50,000 and agreed to own and operate the property, including a lease of the motocross park to Rocky Mountain Sport Riders.
“That’s important, because Eagle County Open Space does not run programs,” county Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said of Gypsum and the Rocky Mountain Sport Riders’ involvement. “It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this.”
Commissioner Jill Ryan said the park is an example of the desire by Eagle County Open Space to provide something for everyone.
“The park fulfills a major community recreation need,” she said.
Rocky Mountain Sport Riders volunteered time in support of park design, construction and maintenance. Club treasurer Mitch Hayne estimated that club president Joe O’Malley put in 2,000 hours of work on the project.
“Also, there’s three guys that have pulled all nighters on many, many nights working on the quality of the track — Andrew Slaugh, Shane Gremmer, Ryley Murphy,” Hayne said.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Off-Highway Vehicle Program contributed $150,000 to park construction.
“We also had 34 individuals or entities contribute between $1,000 and $10,000,” Hayne said. “And many more who donated hundreds in time and money.”
‘FOR EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY’
Watching Windham fly through the air on Monday, Paul Miller said the new park is as safe of an environment as is possible for a sport that inspires such danger in its athletes.
“He’s just always loved to fly,” Paul said of Windham. “He loves being in the air, and he’s comfortable up there. That’s all there is to it.”
Windham said the gene was passed onto him by his father.
“My dad has been riding dirt bikes since he was a little kid, it was just one of his favorite hobbies,” Windham said on Monday. “I was kind of born into the motocross family lifestyle, I got my first dirt bike when I was three years old, but I didn’t really have anywhere to ride, so my dad would build grass tracks for me, little loops. We’d go to Denver to ride tracks but it started getting really expensive. I didn’t really have other places to ride in the valley, so my dad has been trying to build a track like this, basically since I was born, so I would have a place to ride.”
Paul said it was frustrating at times to see his son’s potential and not be able to nurture it. With the Dry Lake Motocross Park now complete, Paul said his hope is that others won’t experience these same frustrations.
The track will “provide an opportunity for skills development for everyone in the family,” Paul said on Monday. “That’s why we have a main feature track that’s more challenging, but then we have a mini track for 65 to 85 cc bikes, for 8- to 14-year-old kids, and a peewee track for just the littlest kids — 4- to 8-year-olds.”
The feature track, endurocross track, peewee track, mini track and singletrack are now open from sunrise to sunset until Sept. 30 this year, when the property will close to accommodate a seasonal wildlife closure. The park will re-open again May 1 and will follow this sunrise to sunset, May 1 to Sept. 30 schedule going forward.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.