Aspen to unclog its kayak park |

Aspen to unclog its kayak park

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The city of Aspen has plans to rejuvenate its beginner kayak park on the Roaring Fork River this year, but the work may not come in time to take advantage of what is shaping up to be a bountiful spring runoff.

The city constructed the park in the early 1990s in a side channel originally dug to help alleviate flooding near the Aspen Art Museum, which sits along the river downstream from the park, said Phil Overeynder, the city’s director of Public Works.

Over the years, the mouth of the kayak park, alongside Rio Grande Park, has become clogged and the features don’t carry enough water to accommodate paddlers, he said.

Even when it was built, it was only useable at peak spring flows, and then it functioned as a beginner’s training area, Overeyender said.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve had enough water to operate it as a whitewater park,” he said.

Diversions from the headwaters of the Roaring Fork reduce the volume that flows down the river through Aspen; 1999 was the last time the upper Roaring Fork was high enough to allow paddlers to use the park, according to Overeyender.

Bountiful snowpack this winter may ensure the kind of runoff that would bring the park back to life, except the city isn’t scheduled to attack the blockage at its mouth until summertime, after the high flows have subsided. The city has allocated about $20,000 to work on the whitewater park, Overeyender said.

“We probably can’t get in there in the time before the runoff occurs this year,” he said. “There may be something we can do, minimally, to get some water flowing there.”

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