Higher than average river levels have created the perfect conditions for unusually good surfing, on the South Platte River in Denver! Skilled river surfers on boards are taking to the river at the Union Avenue Boat Chutes, Chatfield State Park, and other waves throughout Arapahoe and Denver Counties with flows ten times the average flow for July. The project was covered yesterday by the local ABC affiliate: check out the news report here!
“Landlocked surfers, like myself, have been taking full advantage of high water on the Platte,” notes Ben Nielsen, P.E. project engineer for the McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group (MWDG), a division of Merrick & Company, who is designing new waves for surfing right now in the Denver Metro Area.
Surfing on rivers is taking off in other cities where waves have been built. In Boise, ID, where waves designed by MWDG were built three years ago, surfing communities and surf-related businesses have sprouted. “It is amazing to see the transformation of the area around the Boise Wave and all the surfers in Idaho. It feels like you are at a beach in California.” Says Ben referring to a recent trip to Boise.
“We’re bringing surfing to Denver very soon and not just during high flows,” Ben says from his office close to Confluence Park where MWDG redefined recreational river design with their design of the Park in the 1970s and 1990s. “We will be building new waves at Confluence Park in downtown Denver and two locations in Arapahoe County, River Run Park, and Reynold’s Landing Park, that will feature waves that will be fun to surf by experienced and beginners alike at typical summer flows. “The key to developing a surfing community is having consistent waves,” Ben continues, “surfing high flows is great but it only happens for a short time and it can be intimidating. I want to see kids and parents surfing together on the Platte all summer long.”
The projects are at varying stages of planning and design. MWDG is working closely with the City of Denver, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, the Greenway Foundation, City of Englewood, City of Sheridan, City of Littleton, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Arapahoe County, Trout Unlimited, and others to make the projects a reality. River Run Park in Sheridan will be the first to go with construction beginning this fall.