The Buena Vista Whitewater Park has been recently expanded downstream into the South Main Neighborhood development. Now with 4 main whitewater structures and numerous eddy and trail improvements the Buena Vista play park is quickly becoming the premier whitewater park in Colorado. All of the features were fine tuned in the spring of 2008 to optimize hydraulic performance and better the park for everyone who uses it. Be sure to check it out the next time you are in the Upper Arkansas Valley.
Getting to the Buena Vista River Park is simple. Whether you are coming from the north or south, on Hwy 24, turn east onto E. Main St. (the only stoplight in town) and take it until it ends at the River Park. At the park you’ll find ample parking, changing rooms, boat ramps, trails and access all along the west side of the river. Below are descriptions of each of the 4 key whitewater features as of May 2008.
This is the original wave/hole that was constructed in 2002. It is located just upstream of the “Whipple” or Midland Trail Bridge at the end of E. Main St. The boat ramp provides easy access to large eddies and is a popular rafting put-in and take-out. This feature is dynamic and packs some punch- but its bark is worse than its bite, meaning it will wash you out and there is a large recovery area for rolling. Intermediate and advanced paddlers thrive at this spot, and beginners have fun too, if they don’t mind getting tossed around some. In most flows boaters can execute multiple moves and big air tricks. It is the most visible/accessible feature in Buena Vista making it a favorite spot for lounging, tubing, and dog swimming; so behave and be social.
Great beginner spot for aspiring surfers and spinners that like easy access and big eddy service.
This friendly surfer is located 1/4 mile downstream from the Uptown Hole and is accessed several ways. The easiest access is to stay in your boat and float down some class II water to reach it. You can also hike down the riverside trail, or park your car in front of the Buena Vista Community Center and walk down the stairs to the river. It will be right in front of you.
This wave is a river wide feature that is great for beginner and intermediate play boaters. At most flows, you can surf and spin all day with ease, but beware of rafts passing by.
A great area for stroke and skills development with large eddies and in stream boulders.
Optimal flow: All levels
Optimal flows for the Pocket Wave in this area 300-1000 cfs
Town Feature: Optimal Flows all levels; 300-1000 cfs. for the Pocket Wave.
Below Midtown you will find some incredible new large and small eddies which are awesome for controlling your decent of the river. This is a great training area for attaining, eddy drills, rolling practice, ferrying, etc. You can float right down the middle or pick you way down in style. It is a great area for those that need this type of skill development in a predictable environment.
A few hundred yards down you will notice two river wings that jet into the current from both river banks. These wings help accelerate the water to the center of the river, where a large island of rock is located creating a fun foam pile for surfing, spinning and cart wheeling. Improvements were made to the river bed depth to make this pocket wave steeper at higher flows. Results: More fun at higher flows! This feature is great to build your play boating skills because it can be a challenge to get onto. You have to ferry out to it and be precise with your edge control to stay on. It may be a little hard for some, but if you use it, you will become a better boater overall.
This area is beautiful with a great trail on river right where your friends and or dog can chase you down stream. You may notice fisherman, hikers and bikers on your right and the “Midland Trail System” on river left. You feel like you are secluded in a far away country, but you are in the heart of the South Main Neighborhood in Buena Vista.
An advanced feature at most levels. Be ready to throw down and hold on.
This hole is located at the “South Main Town Square” and is accessible by boat from the Uptown or Midtown features, by foot on the river trail, or by car if you drive into the South Main Neighborhood off of E Main St. The Downtown Hole is the most obvious hole in the South Main neighborhood. It is river wide and is now fun at all levels.
With the new improvements this feature has changed dramatically. The lower pool height was raised and eddy service improved. Result: The feature literally went from scary to docile the day of the improvements. It is very user friendly now and soft and gentle. As of spring flows, the bottom hole has turned into the “beginner spot” for easy surfing spinning and cart wheeling. It is much deeper and has a much larger recovery zone down stream.
There is generous eddy service on both sides and it is also a great spot for spectators. There is plenty of shade and shelter for those hot days and nice big rocks to warm up on when it is cool. Take out on the river right hand side and walk back up stream on the river trail or up the South Main boat ramp to your car or to the upper shelf trail system. If you stay in the water you will get to run some fun class III rapids, but access to the river is limited until you get to Johnson’s Village, 1.5 miles downstream from the Downtown hole.
Come on down, we hope to see you all here in Buena Vista. The park is ready for you all to enjoy. Our trails are great too, so bring your bike and or hiking shoes. After a long day of paddling in the cool waters of the Arkansas, visit one of our fantastic hot springs resorts (http://www.cottonwood-hot-springs.com/reservat.htm) and (http://www.mtprinceton.com/ ) they will warm and rejuvenate you for the journey to your next destination!