In-River Kayak Park Initiative


In-river parks come in two main flavors. Traditional whitewater parks, often called “kayak parks” or “whitewater kayak parks” are simple modifications to a natural river. These often take the form of dam modifications and in-stream modification such as the addition of rock structures to an existing river to create play-waves and turbulent whitewater. Both types of kayak parks are made with natural and native materials and plantings, and are designed to mimic and restore the natural aquatic and riparian zone habitats.

These traditional kayak parks are valued not only for the tremendous amount of river play that they accommodate, but also for the economic impacts that they provide a community. Parks such as the Clear Creek Whitewater Park in Golden, CO and the Vail Whitewater Park in Vail, CO create millions of dollars of economic impact per year. These impacts are all external to the whitewater kayak park, which is free to use. Instead, these impacts are to local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

(River Run Park in Colorado)

The success of the Roanoke River Greenway has shown the opportunities that follow when we develop our recreational infrastructure. The next logical step is the development of the river.

Roanoke Outside hired S2O Designs (who also built the U.S. National Whitewater Center) to conduct a feasibility study of the Roanoke River (i.e. where would an in-river park) along with design plans and cost estimates.

Three locations were identified (click on each to see designs):

Want to see all the nitty gritty details?  Read the full Roanoke River In-River Kayak Park Report. (Note that the Mill Lane location was eliminated due to proximity to Salem Water Plant).

Next steps? Encourage Roanoke City Council and Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to support and implement.

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