Black Canyon of the Bear River Whitewater Festival

It is funny how things happen sometimes, take this past weekend for instance. Emily and I were just in California, but with the water shortage and limited options for paddling we decided to pack up and make our way to Colorado. On our way we stopped in Salt Lake City to get some engine work done on our RV, and then we got a call from my good friend Alec Voorhees. After realizing we were Salt Lake, Alec told us about a whitewater festival and creek race happening the next day and only 2.5 hours away. So we quickly changed directions and headed north to Idaho.


The Black Canyon of the Bear River Whitewater Festival was an amazing event. It was cool to be a part of a grass roots event that is young and growing quickly. This event happens to be one of only 4 recreational releases a year for the Bear River, thanks to American Whitewater for organizing that. I felt honored to be able to paddle this amazing stretch of whitewater, especially with the fact it only runs 4 times a year and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to experience it.


Tons of paddlers made it out for the weekend from Idaho, Wyoming and Utah made it out for the festival. I made some new friends and got to hangout with some old friends too.

There was also a race that was part of the festival. It was a long race that started off with a bang. ‘BOO BOO’ is the hardest rapid on the river run, and it was the start of the race, the race continued down the next 2 miles consisting on continuous read and run class 3-4 rapids. It was a tough race being that there were several fast paddlers, it was a long race (winning times were over 11 minutes), and the hardest part of all, I HAD NEVER RUN THE RIVER BEFORE. Actually, there were a lot of us who were racing that had never run the river before. This was a cool experience to be able to race while trying to scout the lines and see where the fast water is, all while running the rapids and trying to keep my speed up. In the end it was a close race, though I was able to walk away with the crown (an amazing helmet/ tiara combo), closely followed by Russell Davies in second, and Seth Stoner in third. DSC_0213

All the race times, were posted on their website:

The organizers had set up a festival grounds just past the takeout with the help of some land trusts, and we all hung out and had some burgers and beers and music and camp fires etc. There were also a ton of raffle prizes including a kayak, and and ton of gear, paddles and clothing from various sponsors, including a ton of stuff from Rendezvous River Sports. Everyone had a blast, and the beer, music and campfire and free swag made for a great night. All the proceeds went to a good douse, and in the need they were able to raise 2000$ for First Descents, an amazing program for young adults battling cancer, if you haven’t heard about it check it out here.

We woke up on Sunday morning to a brisk morning, though with another day of scheduled river release we wouldn’t let falling snow deter our motivation to paddle. Even with the snow there were still a solid crew of around 40 paddlers out Sunday morning to get a couple more laps in before the water shut off again. I was fired up that Jody Voorhees was able to watch Tucker while Emily and I got to run the river together. After a chilly run down the river and big group of us all went to the nearby hot springs to warm up which was the cherry on the cake after an great day on the water.


In the end it was an amazing weekend, with great whitewater, super fun festival, solid race course and many great friends. I hope to make it out again next year and a big thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers for making it happen. 11059738_924754327546156_2558069840511030929_o

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