Description - The Yampa originates high above the northwest Colorado town of Yampa into which the Bear River flows. There are wonderfully varied fly fishing opportunities along the 150 river miles of water as it flows west toward Dinosaur National Monument and Utah's fabled Green River.
- The Yampa is an interesting river with a wide diversity of fish, terrain and habitat. This river provides a good variety of water from small, tailwater to large river fishing. Although it may not have the biggest fish, it definitely doesn't have the large crowds either. The Yampa is a gorgeous river for those looking to get away and enjoy either fishing or whitewater sports.
Recreation - The 15 mile stretch from Stillwater Reservoir to Yampa has tail waters, pretty meadow sections and tumbling freestone waters. Fly fishing for the "Rocky Mountain Grand Slam" (brook, rainbow, brown, cutthroat and whitefish) is quite possible in this section. Fish average 8-16 inches. The next 10-15 miles of river upstream is private until 1/2 to 3/4 miles from the inlet of Stagecoach Reservoir. Below the reservoir there are two public sections. These areas are small tail waters with some beautiful rainbows and cutthroats. From the Service Creek Wildlife Area downstream to the town of Steamboat Springs (15 miles) the river flows through private lands. The river rock placed along the river through the town of Steamboat Springs is surprisingly good fishing. Though angling here is "urban fishing" it is still quite enjoyable.
From Steamboat Springs west to Craig (50 miles) the river is large and mostly private, making access a problem. Fish for northern pike here. The trout population begins to thin outside of Craig and is all but gone below Craig. Selected rocky areas from Craig downstream provide good smallmouth bass fishing.
The Little Yampa Canyon on the Upper Yampa River is becoming an increasingly popular flat water river float trip for canoeists. This 53 mile river segment from Craig to Juniper Hot Springs flows past rolling sage-covered hills and colorful rim rock ledges reminiscent of the old west. A number of good undeveloped campsites are available along the river.
A short, more challenging whitewater run, unsuitable for canoes, is available at Juniper Canyon downstream from Little Yampa Canyon. Low flows after mid-July limit good runs on the entire segment. Regarded as unrunnable until just recently is Cross Mountain Canyon, west of Jebel, Colorado. This run is Class V-VI and is for the expert boater only. Rafting this segment is extremely hazardous and is discouraged.
Climate - The Yampa River is situated in high mountainous altitudes. Persons coming from lower elevations should be aware that time is needed to adjust to the higher elevations.
Warm days and cool to freezing nights can be expected in the mountains during the summer. July and August are usually the warmest months. During this time afternoon thunderstorms are common. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather, as well as for rain showers.
Being at high elevation and fueled mainly by melting snow, the Yampa is a rather cold river. During the spring runoff the river is full of freshly melted snow, and the temperature of the water is especially cold.
Please make sure that you dress appropriately when participating in whitewater sports. Wear shoes that can protect feet if you bounce off rocks or walk out of a canyon in the event of an accident. Wet suits are mandatory when air and water temperature added together total 100 degrees or less. If total is less than 80 degrees, a full set of waterproof or wool garments on top of the wet suit should be worn.
The Yampas headwaters begin in the high country of the Continental Divide less than 40 miles north of Steamboat Springs. It flows westward toward Craig, Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah border. Highway 40, 13 and 318 provide access to the river as it leads into Utah.