Elkader to Build White Water Park on Turkey River

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The city of Elkader is adding it's name to the growing list of small communities using the river for white water rafting. But that city is taking a unique approach to attract visitors to the Turkey River. Unlike a traditional white water course, Elkader is building a white water park.That means rafters will use the river in a more isolated location near downtown Elkader.

Since the Flood of 2008 the Turkey River has been a source of pain for many people living in Elkader. But now the city says they want to embrace what they have and they hope that means big money.

Stephen Wright knows a thing or two about what makes a good place to white water raft.

Wright said, "there is a good amount of flow coming through the river, year round. Which is ideal to create a play spot for a year round environment. "

The professional kayaker is visiting Elkader, touting his sport and telling city leaders what to expect.

"You are going to see people on inter-tubes, stand up paddle board. People on rafts, canoes," said Wright.

This fall, crews will place massive boulders in the bed of the river to build up what is now a small dam.That will create a 100 foot white water park.

Tom Gifford, Elkader White Water Project Coordinator said, "you are actually facing upstream like you are surfing on a wave and you have the sensation that you are moving very quickly but you aren't going anywhere. "

The city says keeping people in one spot, is exactly what this community needs.

Gifford said, "we aren't having to ferry Kayaks from point to point. We are staying here in downtown Elkader and kayak all afternoon and go enjoy something at the restaurants. "

Crews will start putting the boulders in the river starting September 1st.
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