The waves crash into you, sending a brilliant cascade of water over the front of your kayak. You paddle hard, digging deep into the water as your kayak cuts through the whitewater. Your adrenaline thunders in your head; you are having the time of your life. Next to you, other whitewater enthusiasts ride the waves. This is it. This is why you moved to Idaho. You wanted that awesome outdoor lifestyle. But the best part? You haven't even left Boise.
Boise River Park
That’s right, you're battling amazing whitewater and waves and you haven't left the city. In fact, you’re on Boise River at the recently finished phase I of the Boise River Park. It’s a great place to experience the thrill of whitewater from the convenience of your backyard, and it’s also a great place to just get some time in on the waves, as you practice your whitewater kayaking skills. That’s not all you can do here, though, and they have even more planned.
From Industrial to Beautiful
The park was originally the site of a concrete batch plant, which had greatly altered the landscape. Now, the river is being transformed into a beautiful feature and habitat once more. Beyond a whitewater park, it’s also a fish habitat, with plans to further return to the environment by creating even more habitats and havens for the local wildlife. This construction is happening in phases. There are currently two phases planned and being acted on.
Phase I- The Wave Shaper
Phase I of the park was completed in June of 2012. The City of Boise, the Friends of the Park volunteer group, and the Campaign for River Recreation began this project in order to revitalize the area and to make a great place for people to come enjoy the river. They rebuilt the Thurman Mill Diversion Dam, and added the Wave Shaper. Now the dam, renamed to the Harry W. Morrison Dam in honor of the foundation’s assistance, creates waves and whitewater for people to enjoy. It’s turned into a year round attraction, and kayakers come from all over to experience the whitewater and to practice.
Not Just for Kayaking
The Wave Shaper isn't just for whitewater kayaking, though. It’s also drawn a very different crowd. River surfing has experienced an explosive amount of growth and exposure. You thought that you couldn't surf in Idaho? You thought wrong. River surfing uses the waves and tidal bores of rivers to surf on, and the park, as well as the city, has embraced it. The park has days scheduled just for river surfing, and there are several places where you can have river surfboards custom-made right here in Boise.
Phase II- Expanding and Building
The second phase for the Boise River Park is currently underway. This next phase will add another half of a mile below the Wave Shaper, and it will greatly expand the activities available at the park. They are adding three sections that increase in difficulty. The first section is calm, with protected wading areas, an island habitat, as well as a fish habitat, and places for spectators. The second section will consist of three waves that up the difficulty level. It will also have an amphitheater on the banks of the river for events and spectators. The third section will be even more challenging, and will most likely be reserved for the more advanced whitewater enthusiasts. It has canal access, and also features an area to return to the start of the park to run the whole thing again.
Can You Help?
Because construction just started in the late fall of last year (2014), they are still hard at work building phase II. Maybe you enjoy volunteering, or you'd like to donate to the project. Well, you can! You can donate directly to the project, or you can help coordinate fundraisers. They are also looking for other volunteers. If you'd like to help out, donate, or learn more, just head on over to Boise River Park’s website.
The Idaho Lifestyle in Your Backyard
Boise really has it all. It’s surrounded by awesome outdoor attractions and activities, and like the park, it even has opportunities within the city itself! Living in Idaho means you'll never be bored. You're surrounded by incredible beauty, and you can get right into nature and explore. At the end of the day, when you're done with adventure, you can still come home to the big city and enjoy the finer things of city life as well.