Durango’s New Whitewater Park Opens

The Whitewater Park in-stream construction that began November 2, 2013, is finished and opened on April 18th.  Features of the $1 million project include eddies, flow deflectors, and four bank-to-bank drop features that create large rapids, said Scott Shipley, Olympic paddler and designer of Durango’s Whitewater Park. The City of Durango has been making small recreational enhancements to the Animas River since 1986, said John Brennan, avid paddler and member of the Animas River Task Force. Durango was one of the first towns to begin to manipulate the river for recreational purposes, Brennan said. Shipley, who used to be a professional paddler, came to Durango in the 1990’s to compete in a whitewater park competition. “It was very well known, people had it on their radar,” Shipley said. “Over time the reputation faltered a little bit because the features had become eroded or outdated.” In 2003, Shipley returned to Durango to help create a design to revamp the play features of the park, making it more enjoyable for boaters. After creating conceptual and preliminary designs, Shipley helped the city file for a recreational in-channel diversion water right for the Animas River.