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Long-awaited opening of Confluence Park is here

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(Reprinted from a July 3, 1991, section devoted to the opening of Confluence Park)

Walk a short distance along the crushed red rock path and it doesn't take long to recognize that Confluence Park is something special. It is also amazingly varied.

Many people have watched the park take shape as they strolled along the trails. The hiking and biking paths were the first feature of the part to open and for almost two years folks have enjoyed more than two miles of groomed paths along the banks of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre rivers. Strolling along under towering cottonwoods, or peeking through marsh grass, visitors are offered an ever-changing picture.

Along the Gunnison River herons can be observed nesting in an old tree across the river, or wading along the river in search of food. Other birds make the park a wonderful place to sit and watch.

The multiple features of the park are all visible from the trail. As you walk from Gibson's toward the confluence of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre rivers, the first feature of the park is Fort Uncompahgre Living History Museum. The fort is a replica of a fur trading post constructed by Antoine Roubidoux in the early 1800s near Delta, and visitors can observe people living and working as folks did in the 1830s.

Adjacent to the fort is the newly constructed Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre. The facility is home to Thunder Mountain Lives Tonight!, an outdoor drama that tells the history of Delta County. The season premiere of the show, now in its sixth season, is July 4.

Continuing along the trail, the park changes. A long, open corridor, called the Commons, stretches between the amphitheatre and Confluence Lake. The area will be used for arts fairs and other special events, and makes a great spot for a picnic or outdoor games.

Boaters will enjoy the new boat ramp on the Gunnison River that is located in the park. It provides access to the river and parking for vehicles. A restroom is also located nearby.

The trail loops around an undeveloped part of Confluence Park as it nears the junction of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre rivers. This area will be converted to wetlands this winter and by next summer will provide nesting areas for waterfowl and other wildlife. This region will remain basically in its natural state, with trails winding through the area to provide plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife.

Dominating the park is Confluence Lake, and the trail system loops around the 65-acre lake. Reclaimed from sewage lagoons, the lake has been stocked with rainbow trout by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Trout Unlimited and other volunteers helped place log fish structures for habitat in the lake this spring, and everyone is hopeful that Confluence Lake will provide great fishing opportunities.

Handicap access is provided on the east side of the lake, with a special finger constructed to allow fishermen in wheelchairs access to deep water. Nearby is a concrete ramp for those wishing to put a boat on the lake. Access is limited to hand-propelled or electric motors.

On the west side of the lake is a swim beach, complete with sand. This area will be a hub of activity with beach volleyball and other events planned by the Delta Parks and Recreation Department. The swimming area is roped off, and is about the size of a football field.

On the south end of the lake, Horse Country Arena provides yet another feature to the park. The arena is used throughout the year for horse shows, training events, and team penning. It is accessible along Kellogg Street.

Near the middle of Confluence Park is an area designated as the site for the proposed Bill Heddles Recreation Center. Where towers of sand now stand, it is hoped that by the fall of 1992 a recreation facility with pool, gym, racquetball courts and meeting rooms will be completed to round out the features at Confluence Park.

These are only the highlights to be found at Confluence Park ... there is a lot more to be discovered when you visit!

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