The Yampa River Botanic Park opens Monday, celebrating its 25th anniversary

The first tulips will bloom in April 2022 at the Yampa River Botanic Park in Steamboat Springs.
Spencer Powell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Bob Enever’s childhood wasn’t peaceful, but his legacy is.

Horticulture is a big part of life in England and it was a big part of Enever’s childhood there. His mother grew flowers and his father grew vegetables.

Enever was 12 years old and living south of London during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Enever’s father grew vegetables in the backyard where there was a corrugated iron bomb shelter half dug into the ground and covered with earth.

Decades later, Enever’s presence in Steamboat is preserved and admired at the Yampa River Botanic Park. He and his wife Audrey founded the park in 1997.

The park opens on Monday April 25th celebrating its 25th anniversary. It is described as a place of calm and peace.

But before the flowers and trees were even planted, Bob and Audrey owned Fish Creek Mobile Home Park and some frontline areas along the Yampa River.

Adjacent to the mobile home park was a green two-acre horse pasture, which they acquired from the City of Steamboat Springs in exchange for rights to build the Yampa River Core Trail through their property.

They later gave the land back to the city to make the park.

Bob Enever and his wife Audrey donated the land for the Yampa River Botanic Park, which opened in July 1997.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today Archive

After receiving a city grant, Bob, Audrey and a landscape architect named Michael Campbell spent the winter of 1994-95 making plans for the park.

Before these plans were completed, Peter Enever, Bob and Audrey’s son, died. Bob and Audrey put their grief into building the park.

In 1994, Jeff Morehead, who still resides at Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, looked over his back fence from his patio and saw Enever moving earth.

“This person was walking toward me across the field from the RV site,” Bob recalled. “And it turned out to be this man, Jeff Morehead. I had never seen or heard of him before.”

Morehead took lots of photos, documenting the building process and the beginning of a close friendship.

A mounted print of a photograph taken by Jeff Morehead in 1994. The two-acre horse pasture adjacent to Fish Creek Mobile Home Park was slated to become the Yampa River Botanic Park. Spencer Powell
steamship pilot

Morehead volunteered his services and is considered the Botanic Park’s “First Volunteer”. He still volunteers, either helping with the plants or giving tours of Jeff’s Garden, which is planted and maintained by Morehead and rests on the berm on the other side of his fence.

Countless other people, volunteers, employees, city workers, and contractors have contributed to the growth of the botanical park.

The park was inaugurated on July 12, 1997.

The sun beat down on the park that day. There was no shadow. The large poplars that Bob and Audrey planted were seedlings with their trunks still supported by metal stakes. At that time there was only a flower garden in the park.

Life in the botanical park was young and the future bright.

Yoga on the Green is offered at the Yampa River Botanic Park in the summer. It’s an excellent way for people to be mindful in a green space.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today Archive

The park now has 13 colorful garden quarters and 27 sculptures. Many events take place here in the summer, including Yoga on the Green, the Fairy Garden House Contest and live music.

Passport Through the Botanic Park takes place this summer on June 25 and visitors can experience international cuisine and wine to match. This year, guests can experience the 25th Anniversary Garden, which features historical photos of the gardens, volunteers and staff. Reservations for the event begin June 1st.

“I’ve enjoyed living here,” said Bob. “And I’ve known these friends for so long.”

Early morning raindrops cling to the petals of a flower at Yampa River Botanic Park.
Archive John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Raindrops cling to the bright green leaves and vegetation at Yampa River Botanic Park.
Archive John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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