Durango, CO: Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area will open for the 2023 season on Friday, March 31 with new rules for the popular Wibit Aqua Park. The lake will be open for non-motorized recreation 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, March 31 through May 7. Daily operations will begin May 12, and motorized recreation begins May 15.
In order to address safety concerns, provide equitable access, and support unforeseen maintenance expenses, new rules will be implemented at the Wibit Aqua Park when it opens for the season June 3:
- The aqua park will be available for public use during four daily sessions, the sessions will be one hour and 45 minutes each.
- There will be a $5 fee per person, per session, with a maximum of 60 individuals per session.
- In-person reservations will open each day at the swim beach building at 9:30 a.m.
- Each individual must wear a City-provided Wibit life jacket. Children 6 years of age and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
Construction of the new entrance and watercraft inspection/decontamination station will also take place during the 2023 season. Lake visitors should anticipate construction impacts such as traffic delays and modified boat inspection/decontamination hours during this project.
“Popularity of the Wibit Aqua Park exceeded all expectations,” said Amy Schwarzbach, natural resources manager for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We have learned important lessons these past two seasons and received many requests from parents to address safety issues, as well as find a way to provide equitable access so that more kids can enjoy the aqua park.”
Aqua parks have grown in popularity around the globe, allowing City staff to research operations elsewhere. Adaptations to Wibit operations at Lake Nighthorse will mirror other Wibit aqua parks to address issues raised by the Durango community. The need for a fee and to strictly limited the number of people on the Wibit at a given time was driven by irreparable damage the aqua park sustained during the 2022 season which totaled nearly $10,000. Numerous community members expressed frustration that the Wibit was occupied for long stretches without turnover of those playing on it, making it difficult for kids who arrive throughout the day to enjoy this amenity. By offering four sessions each day and only permitting 60 people at a time, total weight on the aqua park can be managed to prevent damage to the play structure as well as allow for turnover of those playing on the Wibit over the course of the day. A new Wibit lifeguard tower is being added to enhance safety on the play structure.
Find full details and purchase season and 5-punch passes at DurangoGov.org/LakeNighthorse. Passes may also be purchased in person at the Durango Community Recreation Center.
Seasonal job opportunities will include cashier, boat inspector/lake maintenance and lifeguard positions. Applications begin Feb. 15. To apply, visit DurangoGov.org/Jobs. Volunteer opportunities are also available by visiting DurangoGov.org/493/Volunteer-Opportunities.
Please refer to the webpage for all 2023 season information or call (970) 375-7321. Lake Nighthorse updates also are posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Natural Resources Manager
Phone: (970) 375-7388
Email: Amy Schwarzbach