The park, which is expected to open on March 15, 2008, has been in development for the last seven years.
“It was good to see the community of Glenwood come together to get the in-stream portion of the park built” said Nick Turner, employee of Denver’s McLaughlin Anderson who has been involved in the park’s design. Other members of the design team include Crystal Young and Jason Carey. “This year it is only the in-stream portion being built, the onshore terracing and such are phase two.” “Keeping the momentum going has been the hardest part,” project coordinator Joe Mollica told the Post Independent of the ongoing project. Coming nearly 140 years after Powell pioneered the Grand Canyon, the Glenwood course marks the first such whitewater park on the Colorado River.
Construction began in December following an unusual groundbreaking ceremony involving paddles instead of shovels. The construction has been made possible by an $888,000 grant awarded by the Glenwood Springs City Council. Vicky Nash of Resort Trends expects the park to “balance out the tourist season,” eliminating the traditionally slower periods of the year in the early spring and late fall. “It should be a great asset to the community,” she says.
Located at the Midland Avenue Bridge in west Glenwood Springs, just a lariat’s throw from where gunslinger Doc Holliday soaked in the Glenwood Hotsprings, the 75-yard-long course will generate three waves suitable for different flow levels. While no events have yet been scheduled, the high volume of the Colorado makes this park a potential venue for international kayaking competitions. Novice kayakers will appreciate the low-water learning features and large pools around the hydraulics, while experts will revel in high-water waves and holes.
The park will also be the site of several river restoration and beautification efforts, with the City of Glenwood Springs expecting to reap significant aesthetic and economic benefits from its construction. The course will also serve as a learning tool to promote river safety and stewardship education.
“It will be a great attribute to the area’s already ample boating opportunities,” says local kayaker Steve Conlin, who lives just upstream in the Sweetwater drainage. “I’ve been needing some place other than Barrel Springs to go practice my roll.”