Big Thompson Parks all open for the first time since 2013 floods — The Loveland Reporter-Herald

Fishing the Big Thompson River. Photo credit: Larimer County

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

The Narrows is one of a handful of small parks owned and operated by Larimer County in the Big Thompson Canyon, now known as the Big Thompson Parks. They opened for the season on May 15, most of them for the first time since the 2013 floods devastated the canyon.

“This is a big milestone for us,” said Chris Fleming, Big Thompson district manager for the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.

The Big Thompson Parks start just west of Loveland with Glade Park and continue 17 miles west along U.S. 34 including Narrows, Forks and Sleepy Hollow. Over the past seven years, Larimer County worked with other land agencies to restore these parks properties to allow for river access…

The Big Thompson River is home to native trout, and forests and wildlife surround the water.

The parks are different than they used to be before the flood, but they are open.

Glade, for example, previously had a parking lot and picnic area. Now, there is a pullout and a path to the river for fishing.

Narrows is accessed by a small pull-out and features a short trail to the water’s edge.

Most of the land in the park is fenced off with signs that it has been planted by the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition as part of a restoration project. But there is access to the river, and a peaceful place to fish, to picnic without tables, to read a book or to sit and watch the birds fly and the water flow…

The Forks, which is just east of Drake, is probably the most dramatic change. A moonscape after the flood, the park now has a paved parking lot and bathroom, stairs down to the river and a rocky bank to walk along and fish. During the reconstruction of U.S. 34, the park was essentially home base for construction crews and filled with mounds of construction materials.

It no longer has picnic tables, but people can access the river and enjoy nature there.

Flood damage Big Thompson Canyon September 2013 — photo via Northern Water

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