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Old 03-29-2006   #1
 
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WW Parks questions

specifically Colorado parks.

Momentum is building in the northeast for some parks,and since Colorado has so many, it is the best model. But, there are a few questions/differences. Many people have this impression of Colorado as a mecca of whitewater, with a park every 20 miles, a world class play spot at every single park, and a season that runs from April 1st to October 31st.

So, Colorado has defintely created the dream. But, what is the reality?
How long to the parks run high or low?
How far between the parks?
How many are actually finished and paddleable right now?
How long did they take to be built, from idea to reality?
Are they really that good?

(If anyone wants to help the northeast out directly, then go here)

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Old 03-29-2006   #2
 
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Learn from Colorado's mistakes:

1. Have features that are good to go even at the lowest of flows if at all possible. Up until a few yearas ago, Denver had a wave that you could flat spin at 115 cfs. Yeah it sucked, but it was better than not boating. You probably won't have this problem in the NE quite like we do, since you have more water.

2. Make every feature count. Golden has a ton of drops, and really only one is decent, and then only at medium flows and up. If you have 20 feet of gradient, you should use all 20 feet to create good, playable features. The benefit is that there is more to do and less crowding in the eddy = more boaters will want to come = increased revenue for the host city.

3. Put the park on a stretch of water that runs year-round. Glenwood Springs is planning a park which will run year-round, and may well change that city into a new destination living place for boaters.

To answer some of your other questions, I suggest you run a search here to find some of the many threads that have compiled lists of the parks. It seems most of the notable towns here have one.

Are they that good? Well, I for one can't make it out to South Canyon after work, so yeah, I like having a ww park around, no matter how crummy the feature, short the season, or dirty the water. The sad thing about most ww parks in Colorado is the fact that they left out the last 2% of the work - making sure the features are playable - and that is the most important part. Having said that, I think people have picked up on that and we've seen marked improvement in the last several years here.

Gets me thinking....how sweet would it be if the dam at Confluence was instead made as a multi-channel rapid/waterfall? Urban park-and-huck...
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Old 03-29-2006   #3
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Re: WW Parks questions

Quote:
Many people have this impression of Colorado as a mecca of whitewater, with a park every 20 miles, a world class play spot at every single park, and a season that runs from April 1st to October 31st.
After paddling between Colorado and the North East for the past few years, i'd have to say... Yeah, it sorta is that good here.

On the front range there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or so whitewater parks linked to one another by no more that 20 miles drive. Granted, the epic'ness of these parks is limited during typical flows, but be it the 2-3 weeks of peak flows or the occasional downpour that kicks up the levels, I think we are fairly spoiled by some pretty tip top features.

I find that many boaters out here are quick to point out how the ww parks should be better, or that we don't have enough water -- I guess I can understand that point of view to some extent, but after 2 seasons spent in the NE I'm really glad to be back here where a good winter of snow will almost awayse translate into a good season of boating. And, I can be on any number of rivers/ww parks within 30 minutes door to door. I can't think of many other metro areas around the country afford a playboater so many options.

When I lived in boston, I was really put off by the infrequence of playboating opertunities within a reasonable drive of the city. I'd be stoaked for you if you guys could get somthing consistant going. CrackPipe, up in manchester, definetely seems like a potential candidate for a ww park. Maybe Skowvegas - but damn thats a long drive for most.

good luck with it.[/b]
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Old 03-29-2006   #4
 
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Dude, in CT you have Tville, one of the nicest natural, easily accessible park and play spots anywhere. One of the holes is sweet most of the year and many afternoons I had the place all to myself. What more could you ask for?

I miss that place. Course, I live in the dustbowl.
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Old 03-30-2006   #5
 
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Re: WW Parks questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Len
I find that many boaters out here are quick to point out how the ww parks should be better, or that we don't have enough water -- I guess I can understand that point of view to some extent, but after 2 seasons spent in the NE I'm really glad to be back here where a good winter of snow will almost awayse translate into a good season of boating.
Yep, all in the perspective. I cut my teeth in the SE, home of eddy-serviced play features, so I am generally not so hot on CO playboating (compare Ocoee v. Numbers). My perspective is also shaped by some years in Chicago, where there is year-round water and no one interested in whitewater parks.

BTW what gives with calling a creek a "pond" up in the NE? Always wondered...
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Old 03-30-2006   #6
 
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The BV hole had one feature last year, and it was epic. The Salida park has a few features, and one is still epic, with another damn good one. BV is rowdy, Salida is friendly. Combined the Ark valley has probably a total of 4 man made features in two parks. They run good from April to August. Easy to learn, and you can still go big.

Denver has three parks, with something like a combined 25+ features, and all of them suck for 90% of the year (conversely, they used to all have at least one good feature, but the good spots are disappearing). They are too shallow to teach good freestyle habits, too small to allow for big tricks, and the 10% of the time when you would want to go because the level is right, the pollution is at its worst or the water levels are nearing peak and you'd rather be at a real river anyways.

To top it all off, the rumored new agenda for the front ranges biggest park is to make it more slalom friendly and more innertuber friendly, as if it isn't already shitty enough. Slalom was created to teach people how to run harder whitewater (old school creekers), and now they want to make it easier! Go to a lake if you want easier (its a better environment to learn in for freestyle basics). Make big features in the rivers. Tell the inner tubers to go big or go home, and the young tubers will figure out that kayaking is a lot cooler anyway.

Don't make an ALL begginer park. Make different features for different levels of paddlers.

Steve, you are right on with the Denver park and huck...
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Old 03-30-2006   #7
 
Bugtussle, Kentucky
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Existing WW Parks in CO...

Steamboat Springs
Denver
Longmont
Golden
Lyons
Ft. Collins
Breckenridge
Vail
Aspen
Gunnison
Salida

Existing WW Parks w/ pending water rights...

Pueblo
Buena Vista
Silverthorne
Boulder

Towns/Counties considering kayak parks and/or RICD water rights...

Avon
Eagle County
Glenwood Springs
Palisade
Durango
Rifle
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Old 03-30-2006   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutch
To top it all off, the rumored new agenda for the front ranges biggest park is to make it more slalom friendly and more innertuber friendly, as if it isn't already shitty enough.
If that happens, it will be tragic. Long before IR proclaimed rodeo is dead, slalom died of natural causes. It will always have a following, but it will never be the big deal it was in the 70s and 80s. Don't get me wrong - slalom is money for the individual paddler. Most of the best creekers I know are former racers, but they were also the last generation to really be interested in running gates.

A good park can accomodate both wicked freestyle and serious slalom, though - the Upper Ocoee is the benchmark for that -- Smiley's is a world-class hole and great racers swim every year after blowing the move above Humongous. Also a good freestyle park is by definition tuber-friendly. The only places I can think of near here where people would maybe die tubing in a park are Widowmaker and Farmington(?). The best holes flush a swimmer anyway and waves don't even stop them. This could be a nightmare if someone in the right position gets the wrong ideas about what makes a good ww park.
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Old 03-30-2006   #9
 
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Tie the river to the community

Something I've noticed in the East since growing up there and moving west: many communities there have really abused, then turned their backs on the rivers that were originally their livelyhood. A good park can bring the river back into the community and help the community grow around it. Study Salida, CO for isntance. There are designers out there who can do a better job of describing the advantages.

Be ready to tackle permitting through the Army Corps of Engineers among other agencies. A designer can also help with that.
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Old 03-30-2006   #10
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Scott,

I have one name for you...Gary Lacy. (http://www.wwparks.com) He is the man when it come to whitewater parks. He did ours here in Pueblo. We have 8 features on a stretch of the Arkansas River which runs right through downtown Pueblo, Colorado. We had a problem with one of the features recirculating and they came back and have just repaired in time for this coming season.

Our park is also what they call a fish ladder which also makes the local fishermen very happy. The division of wildlife planned on stocking this stretch of river with several thousand trout. However, after the Army Corps of engineers finished with the work in the river the fish had new habitat and the population went through the roof! I guess fish like tasty waves too!

Our park is still taking shape and our flows with 4 exceptions are based on flows dictated by calls for water from shareholders downstream.

Pueblo is more in the prairie than most of Colorado's other parks. We get the warmest weather of all the parks in the state and some of the warmest water since it sits around in a reservoir before it gets to our park. Feel free to drop by if you are ever in the neighborhood. I'd be happy to show you around.

-Bryan Kelsen
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