Mancos State Park officially opens the summer season with Memorial Day weekend events Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 15.
Local naturalist and interpreter Jennifer Frost will present a night sky program at 9 p.m., Friday, May 24.
Frost will explore cultural ties to the constellations and other astronomical bodies by “star hopping.” Participants will learn how to identify lesser-known constellations by first finding the better-known star groups like the Big Dipper through “Naked Eye Astronomy.” Once these are found, it is easier to locate smaller constellations and planets, when visible.
Children and adults are welcomed. Frost suggests that participants bring a flashlight that beams in red, a blanket to sit on, and wearing appropriate clothing for potentially cool weather. Meet at Group Picnic Area near park entrance station. The event is free with the $8 per vehicle park entrance fee.
If weather interferes, there will still be a program in the Group Picnic Area.
Well-known area musician Tom Kochanski will give a fun, family-friendly concert in the park amphitheater at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 25. Kochanski has performed all around the area solo, in duos, and in groups such as a ukulele band. He has performed regularly at the Cortez Farmer’s Market, in Durango, at Mancos State Park, and other locales.
Kochanski’s music can be comedic, it can be emotionally moving and it is always family-friendly. The concert is free with per vehicle entrance fee of $8. Concert-goers are welcome to be the non-alcoholic hot drink of their choice.
Free Fishing Weekend is the following week, Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. Persons of any age can fish without a state fishing license.
The park has been stocked with rainbow trout from the Durango fish hatchery. There are also are the occasional brook trout and lots of small yellow perch. Catch limit for trout is four per person per day (no sharing), but unlimited yellow perch.
Free Fishing Weekend also includes several activities for both kids and adults. These include learning how to cast on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Participants meet at the park entrance to learn to catch large plastic fish. Then these skills can be used all weekend to catch the real thing.
Starting Saturday at noon, there will be free boat rides on the park patrol boat, weather permitting. The lake is full and has a lot of surface area. Visitors will see views of the snow-covered La Platas as well as lands around the lake. Boat rides are a chance for park visitors to see how rangers patrol the lake. Personal flotation devices are provided for every passenger.
Free fishing will continue on Sunday, June 2 until midnight.
All 33 park campsites are now open. The park entrance fee is $8 per vehicle.