• Paul Clark

List of Whitewater Parks


Whitewater parks are popping up on rivers everywhere there is a paddling community to support them. Parks are seen as good revitalization projects, and whitewater parks in particular are part of urban development plans and dam removal efforts across the US. Parks projects are intended to offer places for paddlers to play, boost recreation based economies, as well as maintain fish habitat.

Whitewater kayakers populate parks, as do whitewater paddle boarders, surfers and other river users.

Some parks are small, with a few boulders moved around to create an artificial standing wave for surfing boats or boards. Others, like the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC are massive multi-million dollar whitewater centers.

The park in Bend, Oregon has been a huge effort by private donors and city tax payers. The result is a center piece park with a fish habitat, a passage with twelve Class 1 & 2 ledges, and a whitewater channel with four waves adjusted mechanically by air filled bladders. In the heat of a summer's day the park can see several hundred floaters pass through on tubes, in boats, and surfing. Any cold day in winter, still expect to see die hard locals catching the waves. 

Watch my video channel featuring the Bend Whitewater Park including surf legend Gerry Lopez.

Many of the park locations were once areas rundown and dangerous but have been built with both community and environmental rejuvenation in mind. River parks play host to river festivals like the Reno River Festival and are often open free to the public for various forms of river recreation.

Colorado has taken the lead in building parks. There are over a dozen parks throughout the state, and is home to river park engineering firms like the McLaughlin GroupS2O Designs and REP

As more parks are being built there becomes greater interest in new river sports like whitewater paddle boarding. 

WW SUP has its epicenter in Colorado, this in no small part to river park waves like the one in Glenwood Springs and river race festivals like FIBArk.

Video featuring Glenwood surfing here.

Salida based Badfish is a SUP brand created by the partnership of park builders and surf board sharpers. Hala SUP, hailing from Colorado in Steamboat Springs, is becoming the go-to brand for river paddle boarding.

Recreation, urban revitalization, habitat conservation, and progressive paddling are all reasons for the growth of whitewater parks.  A person can become a better paddler training at a whitewater park. Hopefully the communities developing the parks and the natural environment where the parks are built all benefit as well. 

Here is a map identifying the growing list of whitewater parks in the US and abroad.

A Map of rivers and parks. This Master contains locations updated more regularly.

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