Water Flow Reports for Turquoise, Twin

The sun is shining and spring is awakening in Leadville Today. It’s also the time of year when conversations turn from snow and ice, to water flows and cfs (cubic feet per second). Many regular river users may have noticed that some of the regular reporting agents have been delayed in getting out the water flows report for the Arkansas River.

Fishing_June_2017_Twin Peaks

Pictured here is Forebay Reservoir located above Twin Lakes. This water way is part of the Fryingpan Arkansas transbasin diversion project. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

So LT reached out to the Bureau of Reclamation to find out what the hiccup was in relaying this important, pertinent information as rafting and fishing businesses gear up for the busy season.  Terry Dawson, a FryArk Project Water Resource Specialist at the Bureau explained that the person from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) that used to distribute the BOR updates has retired and has not yet been replaced.

Hopefully the position will be filled soon, with things getting back on track. Until then, Leadville Today has been added to the communication list and stays committed to keeping readers posted about any changes in water flows down the Lake Fork Creek from Turquoise Lake, as well as the Lake Creek from Twin Lakes, during the run-off season.

So how are the input/output flow forecasts looking for Lake County’s Turquoise and Twin Lakes early in the season?

“Right now, we are expecting the imports from the Western Slope  through the Boustead Tunnel into Turquoise Lake of about 60,000 acre feet. That’s pretty close to average for most years,” stated Dawson. Right now, the BOR is releasing the native flows as they come through Twin Lakes as fast as they come in. River watchers may have noticed that increase over last weekend between the snow melt and the continual spring storms that roll through the high country, leaving their own contributions behind. While the snow-pack on the east slope is low, especially at lower elevations, reported Dawson, the snow-pack in the very limited area that the BOR captures on the western slope is average.Fryingpan Arkansas transbasin diversion project

These imports are the flows that the BOR diverts from the western slope through the Boustead Tunnel to Turquoise Lake. Some of that water is then diverted down Lake Fork Creek to Forebay Reservoir through Twin Lakes at the Mount Elbert Powerplant, eventually reaching the Arkansas River for thousands of outdoor recreationalists to enjoy.

“Things are looking really, really good for the flows that we’re going to be releasing from Turquoise and Twin for rafting,” stated Terry Dawson in an interview with Leadville Today. The BOR usually sets aside 10,000 acre-feet of their “Voluntary Flow Management Program” water to support fishing and rafting flows on the Arkansas River. That water is generally released for rafting flows between July 1 and Aug 15.

“We expect to have that water available this year,” stated Dawson, providing a welcome sigh of relief for the many rafting and fishing companies who rely on these flows to support their water-based businesses and the hundreds of folks they employ. 

Well, that’s what’s flowing in Leadville Today. If you have additional water news, feel free to reach out at

Grace Hand og God Link

Rafting and Train Ride Special Offered

If you are looking for a great rafting adventure topped off by one of Leadville’s more low-key, scenic attractions try the raft and ride package offered by the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad.

A half-day of rafting with Noah’s Ark Colorado Rafting, followed by a 2.5 hour Scenic Train Ride is what many visitors consider to the perfect Rocky Mounatin vacation. But don’t wait, as these special packages are limited and they do sell out!

    • Browns Canyon Rafting Trip – check in at 8am, 2 hours of rafting through Browns Canyon (class III and III+ whitewater)
    • Lunch will be provided upon arrival at the historic depot.
    • Leadville Scenic Train Ride – Check in time is 1:15 and train departs at 2 p.m. for 2.5 hour scenic train ride.
  • PRICE:
    • Adult Package: $99.95 (plus fees & taxes)
    • Child: $70.45 (plusfees & taxes)
  • Cut-off Date is August 16, 2018.

Please check out the train’s website or call for more information 1-866-386-3936.Raft Ride

Celebrating Two Decades: Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby

Ice _ Jennifer Rogowski

The ice has set up perfectly for the 20th Annual Twin Lakes Fishing Derby to be held February 10 & 11. Photo: Leadville Today/Jennifer B. Rogowski.

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

“The ice is all set up out at Twin Lakes,” reports Angelina Salazar, one of the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby organizers. “And just last weekend, there were almost 20 shanties out on the ice.”

Let the rest of the state fight it out over the skiers, boarders and fat-bikers, because when it comes to outdoor winter recreation, Leadville and Lake County have been known to do things a bit differently. Point in case would be hosting the longest, competitive ice-fishing derby not only in the state but across the region. There’s no break in the action, as competitors kick-off early on Saturday and continue overnight until noon on Sunday. Any idea what time of day (or night) the big fish are reeled in?

Well, come February 10 & 11, many polar-pole plungers will find out as they gather in the southern part of the county for the 20th Annual Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby! Sponsored by the Leadville Rod & Gun Club, this year the event marks two decades of frozen fun that creates a shanty-town wonderland bringing folks together for a mid-winter contest for cash and prizes.Ice Fishing Derby Poster_2018

And no doubt, some of the fish being pulled from that glacial reservoir are impressive, setting the tone for bragging rights that keep local fishing men and women – and yes, there’s a kid’s competition too! – coming back for more.

So round up your shanty-town clan and make plans –  it’s time to get the word out and Go Fishin! Here’s what you need to know.

The 20th Annual Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby will be held on February 10 and 11, at Twin Lakes Reservoir, located about 15 miles south of Leadville, Colorado. This annual Lake County event draws in dozens of winter anglers from across the state to compete for cash and prizes. It’s certainly a favorite among locals and the competition is fierce! 

Competitors can enter to win cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd  place for Mackinaw, Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat fish. Prizes will be awarded on weight of individual fish caught. See how the competition panned out at the last derby in 2017 (RESULTS).

This is also a great outdoor event for the children, passing down family traditions of winter recreation. Children age 12 & under who participate and place in categories will be eligible for a 1st place belt buckle. Trophies will be awarded to 2nd and 3rd winners in each category. There is NO entry fee for the kids competition.

ice fishing shanty

The Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby is sponsored by the Leadville Rod & Gun Club and will be held February 10 & 11, 2018. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg.

And money isn’t the only thing they will be giving away! In fact the LRGC is known for delivering some top-of-the-line prizes including an ice auger and portable ice shanty. Each paid contestant will be eligible to win those prizes. And don’t forget the LRGC raffle with tickets at $5 a piece or buy 5 for $20 from any club member. 

The entry fee is only $40. For an application CLICK HERE. Paper applications can also be picked up locally at the Leadville Sanitation District office at the corner of McWethy Drive and Highway 24 South and up until Friday, Feb 9 at Saturday’s Discount, located south of Leadville at 12655 US-24, across from the Little Red Schoolhouse.

The official event headquarters and weigh-in station during the derby weekend is staged at the Twin Lakes Dexter Parking lot. The Leadville Rod & Gun Club can be reached at P.O. Box 604, Leadville, CO 80461. Or contact LRGC derby organizers Angelina Salazar at 719-293-0567 or Danny Gurule 719-293-5057.

This year, Leadville Today will again be a media sponsor for the Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby, so stay tuned for all the fishing action, photos, videos, and results. It should be a fun winter weekend! So pull out your shanty, grab your pole and auger and head out for some winter fun – and what may be the biggest fish you ever catch.

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes and No portion of this post or the content therein may be re-published without express written consent of the Publisher (


Russell Dicks of Pan Ark caught this sizeable mackinaw weighing in at 14.5 lbs which earned him second place in that category at the 2017 Twin Lakes Ice Fishing Derby held annually in February. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

Shelter From the Storm on the MBT


The fourth and final weather haven on the Mineral Belt Trail – Chad’s Shelter – was installed in October 2014 along the popular recreation trail. Photo: Leadville Today.

By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today

It’s the Mineral Belt Trail’s 17th Birthday in Leadville Today!  It seems there’s a never-ending supplies of good storis behnd Leadville’s 11.6 mile non-motorized recreation loop. The trail encompasses everything that is good about Leadville, as it travels through the historic east side mining district, showcasing views of Colorado’s two highest peaks all along the way.

In honor of the MBT’s birthday, here’s the story of those sturdy little shacks along the way. It’s a story you won’t read anywhere else expect on Leadville Today.

If you’ve ever been out enjoying Leadville’s Mineral Belt Trail (MBT) and got caught in some unexpected weather – like an afternoon rain storm – you were probably grateful that there was a shelter nearby.  And like everything else in this old mining town, these structures have a history,  a story about how they were made, and how they each got their name.

It was back in October 2014, when the MBT installed the fourth, and final (to date), shelter in the southwest quadrant of the trail, between mile marker 10 and 11. So as the work crews got ready to haul Chad’s Shelter up the hill, I got the call to come and cover the historic event. It was also a good chance to meet up with MBT historian and generational good guy from Leadville’s Howard Tritz.

This last structure – Chad’s Shelter – was named in honor of Chad Smith, son of Dick and Charlene Smith. He would have carried on the fifth generation of the Smith Lumber business, which started in Leadville in 1900. Sadly, Chad Smith passed away in 2013; Smith Lumber closed its doors a little more than a year later, in July 2014 (link to story). But there’s a closer connection between the multi-generation Ma and Pa lumber buisness and the MBT shelters, so it’s encouraging to know that Chad’s Shelter will live on as a testiment to his family’s legacy in Leadville Today.


The MBT shelters are made from stulls pulled together with a lap joint in the corner. It was Smith Lumber who donated all of the materials for the structures, with the last one (to date) begin named after their own son – Chad – who passed away unexpectedly in 2013. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

Did you know that all four of the MBT buildings’ materials and labor were donated by Smith Lumber? And it’s the structures’ interesting design that give a clue to their origin; it’s the ultimate in recycling, in fact.

Each shleter is made from various sized stulls, stacked on top of each other, and pulled together at the corner with a lap joint.

So what are stulls? Stulls were used in sacking lumber for transportation.  Over the years as this family-owned business provided the materials for many of the structures in town, Smith Lumber would set aside the stulls after unloading lumber deliveries. They started doing this for the express purpose of being re-purposed into a MBT shelter.

The first three shelters were named after mining shafts in the area of where they are situated.  They include the Swamp Angel Shelter, located at the Leadville overlook.  The second is called Lime Lode Shelter, located as you head up California Gulch on the north side. 

The third shelter is the one located in Evans Gulch, named the Cummins and Finn Shelter, after the smelter in that area of the historic mining district. 

So where is Chad’s Shelter? Specifically it’s between mile markers 10 and 11, in the southwest quadrant of the 11.6 mile non-motorized loop around Leadville.  More informally it’s in the area where the boys scout picnic area and scopes are located.  Or, if you’re familiar with the plaques along the way, Chad’s shelter sits right in front of the wildlife habitat plaque that has the picture of the bear on it. 

In The Ville Head ShotSo get out on the Mineral Belt Trail to celebrate its birthday, July 29. Be sure to give a nod to Chad’s when you pass by, or stop in when you need a little shelter from the storm!

Publisher’s Note: No portion of this story or the content therein can be posted or published without express written permission from the Publisher. All content original. © Leadville Today

Cooper: Fresh Snow, Adjustments for Holiday Weekend

In honor of the Winter Solstice, Leadville Today brings you some news from Ski Cooper. No doubt, resort management is likely to be extremely grateful to see some fresh snow moving through the area, until things start to stack up in a normal regard, Leadville’s ski hill has made some adjustments to keep conditions safe and enjoyable for all levels. And this time, it’s not season pass holders, but other hill users that will feel the adjustment. 

Ski Cooper has 100% of its terrain open as the holiday crowds show up in force this weekend. Photo: Leadville Today/Brennan Ruegg.

“As we head into the holiday season with an increased number of guests,” stated Scott Adams, the Ski Patrol Director, “I feel it is necessary for the safety of everyone to manage the risk.”
Ski Area Management goes on to explain that, an uphill pass (for the current season, a free armband issued upon reading and signing the Cooper Uphill Access Policy) is required for ALL Non-Ski Lift Uphill Access. That includes walking, hiking, running, snowshoeing, skinning, split boards, etc. Complete details are outlined in the following information provided by Ski Cooper’s Director of Marketing and Sales Dana Johnson.

And while snow-pack levels got off to a slow start this season, the future looks bright – and a bit steeper – for Cooper’s Wayback Pod Improvement Project. While it might sound like something out of That 70s Show, it’s actually part of the original Master Plan created by Ski Cooper back in 2000.

“A couple of things to keep in mind,” Torsell explained at the annual Community Meeting held every fall to keep residents informed of the neighboring ski area’s operations. “What we are actually doing on this Wayback Pod Improvement Project is much smaller in scope than what was originally presented.”

And secondly, Torsell re-iterated, please note the term “improvement,” not expansion. And while that might seem like a battle of semantics, it actually demonstrates Ski Cooper commitment to staying within the boundaries of their contract with the US forest Service, all while maintaining its distinct pay-as-you-go philosophy of ski hill management – a concept that still is held in high regard by a majority of Lake County residents.

In this Leadville Today video the Wayback Pod Improvement Project is described in more details by Torsell. The project is anticipated to be doing the “ground” work by 2020. Other details, including how the community can weigh in on the project can be found in the video.

And finally – at least for this report – if you have a moguls-hound or mountain manager on your holiday gift list, then consider the recently self-published book from former Ski Cooper employee Patrick Torsell: “Snow Guns Before Sunrise.”

The new read chronicles a behind-the-scenes look at ski resort operations. Locals will find anecdotal stories from Leadville’s Bob Casey (Ski Cooper Board member), Ski Patroller George Gipson, current GM and the author’s father Dan Torsell, as well as two Leadville’s Colorado Mountain College ski area operations instructors Jason Gusaas and Curt Bender. Torsell recently left Leadville to pursue other ski operations interests, including this book which is now available on eBook ($8.99) with the paperback ($14.99) to follow shortly.

Ski Cooper’s skiers looking for more challenging terrain will start to see the ground work on the Wayback Pod Improvement Project starting in 2020.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s