Despite low water levels, the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival will go on this weekend thanks to a few modifications and some welcome news from upstream.
An unexpected release from Twin Lakes Reservoir near Leadville will increase the Arkansas River’s flow rate by 100-150 cfs, more than a third of the current rate of 289 cfs.
“I can’t tell you how or why this is happening,” said event co-chair Kyle Horne, who noted the flow increase should reach Canon City by midday Saturday. “All I know is we’re excited that we’re gonna have a little extra water from the river.”
The festival runs from noon Friday to 11 p.m. Saturday. The admission fee is $3.
A few events will be changed to compensate for the water level, which ran at 3,400 cfs last year. Some of the longer races will be shortened, the downriver race will be broken into four segments and the rodeo events (including the kayak rodeo and riverboard rodeo) will be altered.
“It’s gonna be exciting because there are a lot of people who can watch; last year there were about 1,500 people watching the whitewater rodeo,” Horne said.
A wide variety of raft and kayak races keep the river busy, with the long-standing ByOB (Build your Own Boat) race among the favorites. New to the festival this year are inner tube races each hour that are open to anyone age 14 and older.
All proceeds from the festival go toward charities and the community, including the Fremont Community Foundation, Fremont Adventure Recreation and the Canon City Recreation and Park District. The majority of the funds will be used for the expansion of the Canon City Whitewater Park and river restoration.
“It’s a festival, but all of the money goes back into the community, 100 percent,” Horne said.