description Golden's Clear Creek Whitewater Park was among Colorado's first engineered kayak courses when it opened in 1998.

Just a few blocks west of the Golden Visitors Center, visitors can experience the thrill of shooting whitewater rapids in kayaks, canoes, ripboards or inner tubes. If you don't have your own gear, you can rent what you need at Golden River Sports, two blocks north of the visitors center.

One can float a mile and a half from a foot bridge just west of the Golden RV Park, past the visitors center, under Golden's main street, and on to Vanover Park. Those willing to walk up the dirt trail west of the RV park can float even farther. An 800-foot section of engineered drops, pools, surf waves and rapids will test kayakers' skills, especially in late May and early June when peak flows produce a Class II whitewater experience with flows of 1000 cubic feet per second.

Clear Creek Whitewater Park opened in 1998, at an original cost of $165,000. Additional drop structures were added in 2002. The course draws an estimated $1.4 million every year into Golden's economy, according to Paddling Life Magazine. A landmark Colorado Supreme Court case in 2001 affirmed the City's right to protect recreational peak flows from diversion for agricultural and other purposes. This ensured the visionary project's long term success. Other Colorado cities followed Golden's lead by developing their own courses in the wake of the court case.

Clear Creek, including the kayak course unless special events are scheduled, is available to the public without charge and without supervision. The kayak course can be rented for special events by contacting the Golden Community Center (303-384-8133), where indoor pool kayak lessons are offered.