The South Beach to Duffy Mountain stretch of the Yampa an easy flatwater/Class I trip. Early May is a good time to float the Yampa because the bugs should not be a problem, there should not be competition for campsites, and usually the water level is excellent.
This is an easy trip for people new to canoeing and canoe camping. Pack a warm sleeping bag because the mornings may be frosty. A headwind is guaranteed and it could be strong.
The first day’s float will be through private ranch land, and that is where the eagle nests will be seen. We will see bald eagles and their nests; we may also see baby eagles in the nests. The second day we will be paddling through BLM land, which is more scenic but without the eagle nests. Flocks of sheep with big scary sheep dogs may be seen, but we do not have to camp with them. Docile cattle may roam past camp.
This stretch has about half a dozen improved campsites. Improved means a table and a fire ring. Most likely we will camp on a large island inside BLM land, without improvements. This trip could be run in one long day. It could be run in 3 days, which would have you paddling a little each day and sitting in camp a lot as there are not hiking trails to explore. I like this as a two-day trip. Usually, we reach the take-out around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon of the second day and can drive much of the way back to Denver in day light.
Provided that we get approval from the Yampa State Park office, we can camp at the put-in, South Beach, the night before launching. There is no fee to camp at South Beach, but everyone will need to either have an annual state parks pass on their vehicle, or purchase day passes. State park passes also apply while we are on the river and both the put-in and take-out are managed by Yampa River State Park. Both South Beach and Duffy Mountain river accesses have pit toilets. While on the river, we will have to pack out our waste. If you prefer not to camp the night before we launch, there are motel rooms that can be had in Craig, about 10 or 15 minutes from South Beach.
Trip Coordinator: Dan Custer (email@example.com)