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Surfing the South Platte River in Littleton —Photo courtesy of Mark Visser

Surfing In Colorado?

How to hang 10 in the landlocked Centennial State.

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Every spring, mountain runoff sends waves coursing down the Colorado River, transforming Glenwood Canyon into a kind of Rocky Mountain Steamer Lane. Sadly, swells on the South Platte River in Denver aren’t quite as impressive, but that changes next month with the debut of River Run Park, a man-made surfable wave in the middle of the river near Broken Tee Golf Course. Developed by Denver’s McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, River Run employs a mechanism called a Wave Shaper to raise and lower a steel plate along the floor of the Platte to create a two- to four-foot stationary surge. (Consider this the fluvial equivalent of human-made snow on the slopes.) McLaughlin has installed similar systems in Boise, Idaho; in Columbus, Georgia; and on the Gunnison River here in Colorado. And while the River Run wave might not rival the ocean in terms of aesthetics, it’s clean, fast, and stable enough to satisfy the Centennial State’s small but devout surf community—at least until snowboard season.

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