After eight years of planning, prodding and praying, on May 7, paddlers in Pueblo, Colorado, will formally open their new downtown kayak park.
The Pueblo whitewater park, which has not yet been formally named, is part of a larger renovation along the city’s riverfront. It consists of eight drops separated by large pools over hafl a mile. Workers finished constructing the kayak park in mid-March and kayakers were testing the waves before the dust settled.
“I’ve been talking about it to the outdoor world for eight years,” said Bob Walker, who owns the Edge Ski and Paddle Shop in Pueblo and led the push to build the park. “Finally, all my guys are saying ‘Wow, it actually happened.’ “
Murals along the cement bank of the river have led local paddlers to dub the holes with names like “Grim Reaper,” “Marley Hole” and “Soul Keeper.”
So far, flows have averaged about 200 CFS and the features are working as promised. For the grand opening ceremony, officials plan to release 800 CFS. Under the agreement governing the park, kayakers can ask for up to 1,000 CFS four times a year. Average flows are expected to be about 500 CFS during the summer.
“I boated it all the way down to 98 (CFS),” Walker said. “You could sit in there and spin.”
The park was designed by Gary Lacy, of Boulder, who has designed many of Colorado’s whitewater courses.
Walker and other members of the Pueblo Paddlers club are working overtime to get some landscaping and a changing room installed before the grand opening ceremony.
Reps from Dagger, Liquid Logic, Wave Sport and Pyranha will be on hand and there will be raft rides and inflatable kayaks available so nonkayakers can enjoy the park as well.
The Pueblo whitewater park is located along a half-mile stretch of the Arkansas River in downtown Pueblo. The best access is near the 4th Street Bridge. Go to www.pueblopaddlers.org for more information. The opening day celebration will be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 7.