Passport: Charles City's Riverfront Park

Posted at: 07/18/2013 6:50 PM
Updated at: 07/18/2013 6:52 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Surfing the waves isn't a catch phrase you hear very often in Iowa. But Riverfront Park in Charles City now features a white water course. The only one of its kind in Iowa.

"Iowa didn't really understand white water park and this has been the ‘ah ha’ phenomenon. They actually see it in action and everyone says ah I get it,” said Mark Wicks, Charles City Chamber of Commerce.

"It's something original, and even if you're not a paddler it's fun to just come and watch,” said tourism coordinator Ginger Williams.

The idea of a white water course came about a few years ago.

"There used to be a low head dam which was dangerous and deteriorating. The city looked at different options for taking it out,” said kayaker John Shultz.

Luckily for these kayakers and paddle boarders, an easy fix to their problem was building a quarter-mile long course with three features.

"The down river gates are right in the middle of the rapids, so you're basically running the hardest part of each rapid. Then on the first two where the river calms out and goes up stream, that's where you have the upstream gates set,” said Shultz.

"The outdoor activities and the potential for staying healthy in this community has increased exponentially since they made the modifications to the river,” said Jeremy Cagley of Charles City.

It may look like an outing you need experience for, but people of all levels take on the rapids.

"We can go from young children on inner tubes to a young couple in a kayak for two,” said Wicks.

“You could be tubing, fishing or just enjoying the water in general,” said Cagley.

Even if water isn't your thing, there's something for the whole family to enjoy at Riverfront Park. Bike trails follow the Cedar River as well as a disk golf course and amphitheater.

But of course, it's the white water rapids that draws in the crowds.

"On any given weekend you might see license plates from Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin or Kansas and beyond,” said Williams.

"It's all about getting out and enjoying the water and just enjoying being outside,” said Shultz.

Want to try out the white water course yourself? The entire park is open to the public every day for free.