Cañon City: New Arkansas River whitewater parks open for business — Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival June 25-26

A picture named kayaker

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Andrew Wineke):

The park, which was officially opened earlier this month, was humorously dubbed “WKRP in Cañon City” (if you’re too young to get the joke, google it) — the acronym stands for Whitewater Kayak and Recreation Park.

“I’ve always thought that we needed a whitewater park,” said Will Colon, co-owner of Raft Masters in Cañon City. “We’ve always let the river run through the city and never really used it.” About three years ago, Colon decided to do something about it. He raised money and brought in experts, pitched the idea to city leaders and pretty soon, WKRP was under way. With a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado and $200,000 more in local cash and in-kind contributions, an excavator began laying rock in the riverbed in January between Depot and Centennial parks, around the Fourth Street viaduct.

The core of the park is a pair of man-made waves, dubbed Flytrap and Nessman, where giant concrete blocks were placed in the river and form frothing piles of foam as the Arkansas crashes over them. Kayakers and rafters, and potentially the occasional surfer or boogie boarder, can play in the waves, surfing and cartwheeling and spinning. For rafters and kayakers finishing a Royal Gorge trip, the waves will be a final hit before taking out…

June 25 and 26, the park will host the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival — a week after the Fibark festival in Salida, the state’s largest. Colon hopes to add more waves to the park and extend the bank improvements upstream. He also hopes the park won’t be just a summertime attraction. “Ideally, we want a wave that will work in the wintertime,” Colon said. “We’re in the banana belt, we have good weather in the winter.”

More whitewater coverage here.

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