Poudre River Whitewater Park to open mid-September

Laura Studley

The construction of Poudre River Whitewater Park, located just east of North College Avenue and north of Old Town, is almost complete.

“Back in 2014, there was a Master Plan that was approved by a council,” said Kurt Friesen, director of the Park Planning and Development department for the City of Fort Collins. “The Master Plan provided a vision for the Poudre River through all of downtown, basically from Shields to Mulberry. It really provides a vision for how the Poudre River can develop over time through downtown.”


The park, which will be handicap accessible, will include a multiplicity of attractions, including two primary boating features for kayakers and tubers, a children’s play area, a pedestrian overlook, a south bank terrace with seating and a bridge that connects to the Poudre Trail. Among these features, the planning also includes ecological benefits. 

“We have some fish passage features that allow for small native fish to be able to move up and down the river during low flow seasons,” Friesen said. “We’ve also removed the core diversion structure that’s been there for many, many years, and anytime you remove a diversion structure from the river, it really restores the river to a more natural habitat.” 

Located along a section of the Cache la Poudre River by Old Fort Collins Heritage Park and the Powerhouse Energy Campus between North College Avenue and a Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway overpass, the park will be open year-round from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Off-street parking will be available at the park. 

According to a City of Fort Collins website about the park, the construction cost for the Whitewater project totaled to $11.5 million, beginning in August 2018. 

Some of the work that still has to be completed before the park can open includes the construction of a boulder wall, the south bank plaza, stair and walk construction, bridge decking, completion of all walks and trails, street improvements, utility connections and parking lot and landscape enhancements, according to the park’s website. 

The park will open to the public mid-September, but the grand opening will take place on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.  

“We’re going to have a big celebration,” Friesen said. “We’re going to have live music; we’ll have a ribbon cutting ceremony. There will be some City representatives available to answer questions and an opportunity to learn about the project and some of the features of the park.” 

This is the first project to be executed from the Master Plan. Preliminary investigations are being conducted downstream near the Old Fort Collins Heritage Park to determine the feasibility of starting another project. 

“This park is really an extension of downtown,” Friesen said. “It’s a place where you can do things at the river’s edge that you haven’t been able to do before. My hope is that people will treasure this space and enjoy it. I think it offers a little something for everyone. I believe it will be a treasured space in our city.”

Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_.