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10 Reasons Fort Collins Needs a Whitewater Play Park

The effort to install a whitewater play park in Fort Collins is officially underway.

The process involves approval, funding, research, and many other aspects that must be considered when attempting to do something of this caliber.

To see renderings of what it would look like, click here.

It’s a home run of an idea on so many levels. It would enhance a section of the river that is in bad shape, bring revenue to the town, put more people into the beauty of nature, and have so many more positive affects. Here are just 10 of them.

10. This is next level stuff for Old Town

Old Town has been setting an example for medium sized downtown areas for a long time.  It’s one of the primary reasons Fort Collins has been named to so many ‘Best Places to ______’ lists. Disney’s Main St., USA is based on it.

Do you know what Disney can’t recreate? A truly wild and scenic river, fed by crystal clean snow melt. The Cache la Poudre River is a truly exceptional natural resource, and it runs right through downtown Fort Collins.

We’ve got places to eat. We’ve got places to shop. With Streetmosphere, we have art, music and performance to enjoy in addition to the existing culture in the galleries and venues.

There have been many very successful efforts to show that we can ‘put Fort Collins on the map’. We’re getting there. Almost everyone knows our name, and we haven’t even included the Poudre just north of Old Town. Oh, the possibility!

Simply put, Old Town is awesome. This is a chance to make it epic.

9. The improvement of North College is already underway

New sidewalks have been installed all the way from Old Town to Jax. New bridges, metal sculptures and bus stops have enriched the formerly schlubby west side of College and Vine. The nice part of Old Town used to end at Laporte. It’s extending quickly, and beautifully, and the river is right in the heart of it. That nasty diversion dam that we have there is an eyesore that serves no purpose.

But it’s a part of the river and is accessible directly from Poudre Trail. The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a few minutes walk away to the west. Further east on the trail is the Fort Collins Heritage Park, adjacent to the Northside Skate Park, and the Aztlan Center: All of them are modern, beautiful facilities. In between, them, what do we see? A gnarly, abandoned, diversion dam. They are going to remove that anyway. Why not take advantage of the respectable slope that exists there and put in a whitewater park?

 

8. Revenue

According to boaterparks.com and the report linked here, Golden enjoys $2 million in annual revenue from a project that cost them $200,000. Any objections to such returns?

7. Give tubers a safer place to play

More people in the water means there will be more common, local knowledge about the water. When there is more common, local knowledge about the water, there are fewer injuries, fewer deaths, less littering, less nonsense.

Tubing safety is a huge issue. When there is a place to go that is designed for people to play, tubers will know where to go, and don’t have to guess. Guessing leads them to drive up the Canyon, put in, and hope it’s going to be ok. That can lead to less than favorable results.

6. Creating a future filled with paddlers

I believe that when people play in nature, they become concerned about nature. Putting in a white water park will inspire generations to come to be in the water. People who love to play in the water realize they love water and they become considerate of it. A whitewater park in Fort Collins will literally improve the future of our planet.

5. Plentiful, free(almost) fun

I love sports like this because once you have the gear, you don’t have to pay for much. Like cycling and any other sport that doesn’t require a pass, green fee or other charge per use, after the gear is taken care of, we can recreate with little or no cost for years to come.

If my kayak gear hadn’t been stolen, it would have been more than a decade since I paid for any gear.

Plus, with more and more people in the sport, it means that there will be an abundance of gear on the used sites, like craigslist.org and mountainbuzz.com.

“If you want to dance, you have to pay the band,” was a favorite saying of one of my coaches, and it’s true. Enjoying whitewater on boats, stand up paddleboards and other devices of floating fun isn’t free. At least when we have a park in town, it will be cheaper.

4. Or, pay nothing

When we go to the white water park in Lyons, we don’t take anything. We head down there on the motorcycle with our bathing suits on under our jeans. By the time we get there (mainly in July and August), we’re so hot, we can’t wait to just hop in. The pools created by the specially placed rocks make swimming and wading a blast.

Imagine riding your bicycle along one of our amazing paved trails in the summer heat. Then, when you get to the park, you have a place to safely hop in the water to cool off. Or do the same during a run on one of our 100 degree days. Jump in!

3. 10 to 1

This is the section of the proposed park. People along the trail may stop and look at it, but with what is currently there, they won’t look for long, because it looks terrible.

Studies done on whitewater parks show that on average, there were up to ten spectators for every boater. This improvement on the river isn’t only about making boaters happy. Its affects ripple into the experience of visiting the town. People from all walks of life not only love to watch boaters, but they also just enjoy the nicely designed and landscaped section of the river that allows them to go to the water without having to do any bouldering.

2. The Cache la Poudre River is amazing

Oh water from the Rocky Mountains, how do I play on thee? Let me count the ways.

Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snow structure building, snow cave digging, snowball fights, and that is just with the snow.

When snow melts into water the list cotinues; rafting, swimming, bathing, fishing, lazy floating, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and just gazing.

Then, you come into our town and we drink you to stay alive.

Many people make you into beer, which opens doors for a whole other way to recreate.

You water our plants, fill our lakes, help us to grow our crops.

Not every town has a beautiful river running through it. Very few have such a pristine, wild, clean clear river like ours.

Taking advantage of it is an absolute no brainer.

1. Fort Collins is the best town in the world for a white water park

Lyons is very small. It only has a few restaurants and other attractions besides the white water park.

Golden is close to the BIG city, and feels crowded and tight.

Salida is hours and hours from most of the Front Range.

All of these towns are awesome and deserve a visit from you, as do any of the other Colorado towns that have whitewater parks in them.

However, they can’t hold a candle to Fort Collins.

We’ve got tons of parking. Dozens of restaurants in the downtown area and beyond. A beer belt with more breweries than your liver wants you to visit in a day. A Discovery Museum. Shopping. Bike rentals. Horse drawn carriages. Live music and performance in Old Town in the summer. CSU.

There are more things to do in Fort Collins than can be fit into a day, and because we’re somewhat removed from the metro area, it can be enjoyed without the trappings of the bigger cities. Still, the Fort is easily accessible to anyone from Laramie and Cheyenne to Colorado Springs. Easy access from Boulder and Longmont. A quick trip from Denver. Without parking woes. With peace and Colorado contentment. Fort Collins is the best town for white water park in the world, so let’s make this happen.

Support the Fort Collins Whitewater Park

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