Water Sports Park
The Montrose Water Sports Park (WSP), consisting of 1,000 feet of river channel, is one of the largest in the state of Colorado and one of the few in the U.S. to be accessible by ADA standards. The park was designed with all citizens in mind – from ankle waders to expert kayakers. It is located in Riverbottom Park, a branch of Montrose’s Clifford E. Baldridge Regional Park complex, and includes six drop structures. The WSP has a gradient of 11 feet for 1/5 miles, supporting a leisurely run with natural obstacles.
The park is complemented by terraced spectator areas, allowing a safe space for viewing right on the river. There are also beach areas and ADA-accessible put-in and take-out ramps.
Sustained irrigation flows on the Uncompahgre River make the WSP an enticing destination through late summer, long after other parks have lost their luster. The water flows are a combination of water coming from the Gunnison Tunnel Diversion which connects flows through the South Canal at Chipeta Lake. The Uncompahgre River flows are managed at the Ridgway Reservoir just south of Montrose, Colorado.
The area surrounding the WSP features picnic and pavilion areas, restrooms, playgrounds, ball fields, an extensive concrete and soft-surface trail network, a disc-golf course, the Montrose Skate Park, ample on-site parking, and other attractions in the Clifford E. Baldridge Regional Park complex. The park offers another great place to exercise, socialize, recreate, rejuvenate and relax.
History of the Water Sports Park
The Montrose Water Sports Park was created with the help of a $259,384 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) in 2013, thanks in part to a strong intergovernmental collaboration involving the Montrose Recreation District, Montrose County, and the city. In addition, the project had the support and involvement of other key partners: the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Montrose Recreation Foundation, LiveWell Montrose-Olathe, Friends of the River Uncompahgre, Welcome Home Montrose, and the Montrose Community Foundation.
The original project scope included the Water Sports Park itself, nearly 2,000 feet of concrete trail, 1,900 feet of soft-surface trail, and signage along the river. Montrose citizens chose a whitewater park and river trails as their highest priority projects during the Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan process that was completed in early 2011. Two additional citizen surveys showed widespread support for a sensory playground, fitness stations, picnic tables, and baseball/softball field enhancements at the Ute/McNeil Fields.
Prior to the construction of the Water Sports Park, the city completed compensatory aquatic habitat improvements on the Uncompahgre River at the upstream end of Riverbottom Park with the goal of increasing fish populations through this reach of the river and providing additional fishing opportunities for residents and visitors. The habitat improvements included re-grading of approximately 1,500 linear feet of the river channel, constructing four riffle-pool-glide sequences, and adding numerous habitat boulder clusters.