Gore Canyon Whitewater Park at Pumphouse
Planning and fundraising is well underway for the Gore Canyon Whitewater Park. Grand County is seeking public and private partners to help fund this important element of the community’s Stream Management Plan. The Colorado Water Conservation Board awarded $500,000 to the $1.7 million project and the final $600,000 is being sought from a variety of sources—including boaters. This “park and play” whitewater feature will be located just upstream of launch #2 at the popular BLM Pumphouse recreational site on the Colorado River near the western edge of Grand County.
Grand County has been negotiating long and hard to protect the Colorado River headwaters recreational environment to ensure a strong economy and a good quality of life for all residents and visitors. The effort to protect Colorado’s recreational boating economy included filing for a recreational in-channel diversion water right in 2010. If permitting, fundraising and water court process continue on schedule, this will culminate in the construction of the Gore Canyon Whitewater Park in late 2014.
WHO Grand County is the project sponsor and is working in cooperation with private and public stakeholders to complete this project with a Right Of Way permit from the BLM.
WHAT Large manmade structures will be placed in the river to create a variety of wave features used by kayakers, Stand-Up Paddle boarders and other whitewater enthusiasts. Boaters typically paddle up through the eddy and play by cycling through the wave features repeatedly rather than navigating downstream on the current. This is commonly called a “Park and Play” whitewater park.
WHEN Engineering, permitting and fundraising will continue through 2013 with construction scheduled for late 2014, opening in 2015. This timeline may change.
WHERE This site on the Colorado River is between the Class V expert reaches of Gore Canyon and the family friendly Class II-III reach below Pumphouse benefits from releases of water stored in upstream reservoirs throughout the summer. This provides good boating flows in dry years when other streams are too low to boat. The Pumphouse site was selected in 2009 after outreach to landowners, private and commercial boaters and fishermen, state and federal agency staff, American Whitewater and Colorado River Outfitter’s Association. Gore Canyon is a nationally recognized destination for boaters.
HOW MUCH The project budget is about $1.7 million and of that amount, over $1 million has already been secured. About $600,000 more is needed to bring the project to fruition next year.
FUNDERS Grand County has been working on this project for five years and has invested over $500,000 in legal, engineering, design and planning expenses to date. The Colorado Water Conservation Board awarded Grand County $500,000 for construction. The balance is being raised from boaters and other private and public sources.
ROI Recreation is a huge part of the headwaters economy. Whitewater boating provides hundreds of jobs and thousands of dollars to Grand County businesses every year. Building a whitewater park is an investment in recreational infrastructure that benefits the entire regional economy. The Upper Colorado River is second only to the Arkansas River in commercially guided rafting trips in Colorado.
WATER RIGHTS Grand County filed for recreational water rights for the project in 2010. The water court process is proceeding as expected and settlements are anticipated by April 2014 with the last three remaining parties in the case.
PERMITS Grand County is seeking the necessary Right Of Way Permit from the BLM as well as other appropriate stream permits from state and federal agencies.
ENGINEER Jason Carey, PE is an experienced river engineer and boater who designed a number of other whitewater features in the area, including popular park & play sites in Glenwood, Frisco, Vail, Avon and Canon City. The concept design drawings are available for review.
TO DONATE Contributions may be made by check payable to Grand Foundation to the Gore Canyon Whitewater Park Fund. Click on the "Donate Now" to make your tax deductible gift!