We’ve Created a Monster

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“We’ve Created a Monster!”

That’s the sentiment, it seems, behind a new river-wide play wave built on the Colorado River earlier this spring that is drawing kayakers and even board surfers from across the country to what was formerly a Class I-II flatwater stretch above the West Glenwood bridge. “I don’t think the designers had any idea it would turn out this monstrous,” says local Ian Anderson, who surfs it religiously.
Indeed, little did they know that the year’s runoff through town would top 20,000 cfs this year, rendering even the previously epic Big Sur wave an hour downstream to second fiddle.

“The wave is SICK,” maintains pro kayaker Stephen Wright of Jackson Kayaks, who visited it between competitions in the area. “It’s definitely the best wave on the West Coast of the U.S. that I know of, and is right up there with what we find on the Ottawa, New, and other big wave places. All the wave tricks are possible, and it’s very user friendly.”

When it first appeared, it was hard to tell how the new play park would perform. Then, as levels rose, a sticky do-nothing hole transformed Dr. Jeckle-like into perhaps the best wave in the Rockies that’s flipped rafts and massaged egos. As soon as it appeared in its current carnation, posts ran rampant on Mountain Buzz and BoaterTalk, and people came paddling. Who cares if Class V Barrel Springs is raging upstream? There’s epic surf to be had.
“Dude, I had a half-hour ride on it on my surfboard,” maintains Dagger’s Ken “Hobie” Hoeve, who lives nearby. “It’s totally sick. There’s nothing like it around here anywhere.”

Indeed, at flows above 11,000, it’s become the new hot spot, just as the nearby hot springs were for the likes of the late Doc Holiday. In between the Paddling Life Invitational, Lyons Games and Teva Mountain Games events, that’s where competitors headed, where none bothered going before.

Following the lead of places like Golden, Reno and Vail, the wave came about after city of Glenwood Springs agreed to build a whitewater park on the Colorado Tiver after years of lobbying from local boaters. The $800,000 whitewater park, designed by Glenwood resident Jason Carey and his company RiverRestoration.org, was intended to be optimal at average river summer flows, anywhere from 1,500-3,000 cfs.

Of course, everything has changed after this winter’s near-record snowfall. Rather than washing out at high flows, the new park just keeps getting better, much to the surprise and delight of local kayakers. At flows of 10,000 cfs and higher, the hole becomes a spectacular river-wide wave that has attracted boaters from across the state, and even some surfers.

Paddleboard-convert Dan Gavere, touring the area as a rep for Werner, even recently gave it a run and a big thumbs up, carving back and forth on his paddleboard as if he were in Hawaii.

The only downfall? Now we have to deal with surfers in the line-up.

Staff Post
Staff Posthttps://paddlinglife.com
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.

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