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Whitewater Park River Surfing: History, Design, Science and Destinations


Surfing waves in rivers is not a new phenomenon. Landlocked surfers have been surfing river waves or “standing” waves in places like the Snake River in Jackson, Wyoming or the Eisbach Canal in Munich, Germany for 20-30 years. Many other locations in North America as diverse as Montreal, Quebec or Missoula, Montana, boast thriving river surfing destinations.

Today the development of Whitewater Parks has led to an expansion of river surfing. While hardly mainstream, river surfing is now possible in places that were never previously thought of as surfing destinations. With standing waves, the wave is uniform for indefinite periods of time, meaning no battling salty locals for set waves and rides that can last as long as your quads can stand it; and with fresh water the toothiest critter is likely to be a beaver…there is a lot to like about river surfing.

Whitewater Parks are the common name used to describe engineered river improvement projects where structures are built in the streambed of a natural river, using rock and concrete, to create accessible whitewater features, bringing whitewater paddling to the 9-5 masses the way that rock climbing gyms have for climbers.

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