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County to Manage Two Estes Park Campgrounds

January 27, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Mary's Lake Campground in Estes Park, Colo

Mary's Lake Campground in Estes Park, Colo.

Colorado’s Larimer County parks will manage two Estes Park campgrounds in a new agreement with the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, according to The Coloradoan, Fort Collins, Colo.

Combined, the Mary’s Lake and East Portal Reservoir campgrounds cover about 125 acres and offer more than 200 campsites ranging from basic tent camping to full RV hookups. They also offer easy access to major attractions such as Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park.

The campgrounds will add to the county Department of Natural Resources’ “portfolio” of recreation facilities in the Estes Valley, said Dan Rieves, the department’s visitor services manager. A few years ago, the department opened Hermit Park Open Space south of Estes Park, which offers campsites and cabins year-round.

The district will benefit from the county’s experience managing recreation facilities such as Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake and building improvements that meet the needs of the camping public, Rieves said.

“The farther we got into this partnership, the more sense it made for both parties,” Rieves said.

The campgrounds were built in the late 1960s on land owned by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, said Stan Gengler, executive director of the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District. The campgrounds are open May through September and are often full, he said.

The campgrounds have been operated by private concessionaires with 5% of their gross revenue going to the district, which is funded through a small property tax mill levy and fees from its programs. Few changes have been made at the campgrounds during the years, he said.

In the agreement with the county, the district will receive the same share of the gross revenue but 65% of the campgrounds’ net revenue will go toward a fund that will pay for building improvements at the campgrounds. The parks department will receive the remaining 35%, Gengler said.

A 10-year master plan for the campgrounds calls for upgrading its facilities, including bath houses and the overall layout of the campgrounds, Gengler said.

Last year, the campgrounds’ combined gross revenue was about $575,000, Gengler said.

Mary’s Lake Campground is west of Colorado Highway 7 and south of downtown Estes Park. Its amenities include fishing and a small swimming pool.

East Portal Reservoir Campground – formerly known as the Estes Park Campground – is farther southwest and borders Rocky Mountain National Park.

Campers are expected to be able to reserve sites at both campgrounds through the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources’ Web site by mid-March, Rieves said.

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