ELKADER, Iowa - Rising waters on the Turkey River have flooded the town of Elkader year after year.
But instead of fighting it, the town is using the river to its advantage by opening a white water park.
Volunteers have been working on the project for years, and it officially opened Friday.
Inside the Elkader Jail House Inn, Julie Carlisle-Kane is loving the new visitors staying at her Bed and Breakfast.
Carlisle–Kane said, I have a kayaker coming from the St. Cloud area, coming down for the white water park for the weekend.
That’s why she’s strapping on a helmet and stepping into her water shoes.
Carlisle- Kane said, Well you know the old saying, if you build it they will come. I decided to embrace it and try it myself.
She’s among the many amateurs and professionals testing out the waves.
Kayaker Adam Pollock said, It’s one of the smoothest, easiest waves I’ve ever been on. It’s really fun.
The city says the community deserves a little fun, and the economic boost that comes with it. They’re hopeful by embracing this wild river, tourism dollars will start to flow in.
Elkader Economic Development Director Roger Thomas said, Sometimes you live with the river. And sometimes the river lives with you.
This community says sometimes change is about adjusting your sails, especially when you can’t control the water.
Thomas hopes Elkader’s white water park will be the beginning of a statewide trend.
If we can get more of these in Iowa. The Cedar River. I know Coralville is talking about it. Wherever. We’d like to make Iowa a white water kayaking destination. Because we’ve got a lot of rivers, said Thomas.