River Run Park: A New Era
Up until this point river surfing in Denver has been a pretty underground affair. A small group got their sessions in on the Beaver Wave and over at Union Chutes when they had the water for it, but it wasn’t a very publicized activity. I came out of a whitewater kayaking background, and I had a general idea that Glenwood and a couple other waves saw a few shortboarders once in awhile, but I didn’t have much sense there was much going on in Denver until I started snooping around.
It’ll be interesting to see what River Run Park does to change the game in Denver, and to see whether Denver is a river surfing destination once we’ve had a full season with the features. Even at low flows, we already know that it’s something much more akin to Eisbach or Bend than it is any of the other river waves in Denver. More speed, quicker turns, and much shorter boards are all in play.
Not only have the waves changed though; the level of publicity has changed a lot as well. Most local news outlets ran some sort of a story when River Run Park opened, and the wave is right next to a great new park, a golf course, and a well-traveled running and bicycling path, so there are hundreds, if not thousands, more spectators seeing river surfers and getting interested. Already, when we saw a small bump in flows there were a number of kayakers and surfers in the lineup, even though at such low flows, better surfing could be found elsewhere in town.
My best guess is that the Colorado river surfing community is about 10% the size of the Colorado whitewater kayaking community. I’m sure that percentage is going to grow, though it’s hard to guess by how much. Lineups at River Run Park this spring should give us some idea, once the wave really comes into its own.