Get Out There
(page 6 of 7)
IDAHO'S FIRST WHITEWATER PARK
Much to the delight of Gem State kayakers, Kelly’s Whitewater Park (KWP) in Cascade opened last year as Idaho’s first such facility. A collection of five man-made rapids and a stunning Welcome Center on the North Fork of the Payette River at Cascade are the highlights of the park.
A dream come true for boaters, the project was kicked off by a citizen committee in early 2007. Events such as kayak film festivals and “Flatwater Races” helped get the dream rolling.
The park is the result of plenty of effort and determination by local residents and benefactors Mark and Kristina Pickard of Miami Beach and nearby Tamarack Resort. Besides the recreational potential, the park is also seen as a way to buoy Cascade’s economy.
In March 2009, the Pickards contacted the folks putting the park together. The couple was considering a community project and pitched in for a whitewater park named after Kristina’s late sister, Kelly Brennan, a sports enthusiast who passed away in an auto accident at the tender age of 23.
In just five months during the winter of 2009-2010, that included subzero temperatures, construction crews created the features and the Welcome Center, which offers a 180-degree view of the Payette River. A grand opening was held last June and a bronze statue honoring Kelly Brennan was unveiled in August.
Kelly’s Kayak School was assembled to provide free instruction for school-aged kids of Valley County and graduated more than 60 kids last summer. “The Strand,” an all-weather greenbelt, now runs for more than two miles along the Payette and a steel bridge between the shoreline and a rock island that forms the rapids was also installed.
Kelly’s, as it’s simple called by some, has been selected to host this year’s USA Freestyle Kayaking Point Series Championships on July 9-10. It will draw the nation’s best freestyle athletes to perform acrobatics in their tiny boats before thousands of fans. Park supporters see the championships as an opportunity to showcase KWP as one of the top play parks in the nation. Kelly’s will be an active place all summer long with art showings and music each week.
-photo by Kurtis Perkins