2016 Snow Drawing: The Yampa River

Saturday & Sunday, Jan. 9-10, 2016
The Yampa River
A snow drawing on frozen Lake Catamount

Sonja Hinrichsen
Yampa River snow drawing
The 2016 snow drawing approximated the historic path of the Yampa River through Pleasant Valley, where Lake Catamount now sits.

The Yampa River was dammed to make Lake Catamount in 1978. The 2016 Yampa River Snow Drawing is a testament to the free-flowing river that once ran through this valley. The installation approximates the meandering path that the river once took through Pleasant Valley – an abstract depiction of the water as it flows through fast currents, slow eddies and around obstructions.

This was an idea spawned by Steamboat Springs locals who had worked on the 2015 "We Are the Water" snow drawing, and environmental artist Sonja Hinrichsen returned to work alongside the community once again. About 50 volunteer artists entered the frozen surface of the lake near the Yampa's inlet, traversing the length of the lake toward the dam while walking in a swirl of water-mimicking patterns in snowshoes.


Sonia Hinrichsen
Yampa River snow drawing on Lake Catamount
Artists took the liberty of representing a variety of water flow patterns in their translation of the historic Yampa River path.
Sonja Hinrichsen
Yampa River inlet
At the point where the Yampa River enters Lake Catamount, artists set off to represent its former menadering flow.

While the artists were working their way across the lake, a drone pilot filmed their creative efforts -- footage that ended up on 9 News (KUSA in Denver). Here's the video that he made about the drawing and artist Sonja Hinrichsen...

Local reporter Audrey Dwyer joined the artistic effort and wrote about it in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Want to see more?

Click here to see Sonja Hinrichsen's full collection of aerial images from the 2016 "Yampa River" installation on Lake Catamount. Thank you to local pilot Jack Dysart for generously flying Sonja over the snow drawing!

The 2016 Community Snow Drawing at Lake Catamount was sponsored by The Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch, Bud Werner Memorial Library and Catamount Ranch & Club.


Wondering what happened to the OTHER 2016 snow drawing?

A week after the "Yampa River" installation, community artists attempted to create another snow drawing on open meadows next to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden. It was a bold idea to welcome air travelers with whimsical snow designs as the arrived and left the Yampa Valley, however Mother Nature did not comply. Snow was extremely deep, and designs ultimately filled in quickly with windblown snow and another storm.

Such is the ephemeral nature of snow drawing!