Living in a western mountain town generally means you are pretty far from the nearest ocean. While for many skiers and snowboarders, mountain biking and climbing are enough to satisfy the off-season itch. For the many of us chasing the water cycle from snow to surf, living in a mountain town means a major compromise to getting in the ocean regularly.
Luckily the creation of whitewater parks across the United States has helped bring surfing to landlocked places you might least expect. Here are some zones to get turns on the water and in the pow within a very reasonable distance….
Boise, Idaho: Bogus Basin to the Boise River Park: 18.7 miles
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, located 16.5 miles north of downtown Boise, is a short drive from the airport and surrounding communities. Since 1942, Bogus Basin has been offering family-friendly mountain recreation for generations of enthusiasts. The non-profit recreation area offers 2,600 acres of daytime skiable terrain and 165 acres for night skiing and riding; seven lifts and three people-mover carpets. A hidden gem, the area boasts 91 named runs, an 1800 foot vertical drop, and a Nordic center that offers 37 kilometers of groomed trail for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The Boise River Park was once known as 36th Street Wave, and it features one of the first adjustable river waves in the world. The park was originally made for kayakers but the wave is also excellent for river surfers.
On some days you may find a relatively green face, on others the wave is more like a hole — this really depends on how the park’s waveshapers are shaping it. The park has in place a man-made adjustable wave shaper to modify the wave as flow rates and water levels vary. There are two waves at Boise River Park which are usually surfable anytime from March-October.
Missoula, Montana: Montana Snowbowl to Brennan’s Wave: 13.4 miles
Montana Snowbowl is one of the better kept skiing secrets in Montana. Located just a short hop from downtown Missoula. Montana Snowbowl is a fun ski area that is affordable, receives plentiful snowfall, and has a wide variety of expert terrain. In short, it is a great place to go skiing, especially for those who enjoy tree skiing or are expert skiers. And compared to larger ski resorts, lift tickets at Snowbowl are quite affordable, too.
Montana Snowbowl has a solid, and true, vertical of 2600 feet, which is one of the higher lift-served verticals in Montana. The ski area itself covers 950 acres, 500 of which is designated glade skiing. Snowbowl also receives an average of 300 inches of snow a year.
Brennan’s Wave is a man made wave on the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula.
Missoula and water sports go so well today, we made waves to play on in the heart of downtown. Brennan’s Wave was constructed in memory of a world class kayaker from Missoula who died while paddling in Chile in 2001. There are plans to complete a second wave just a few yards from Brennan’s to up the action. Brennan’s Wave brings great surfing into the city limits. On any given summer evening you can stop to watch kayakers, surfers and paddle boarders playing on the wave and even attempting tricks.
Bend, Oregon: Mount Bachelor to Bend Whitewater Park: 20.2 miles
Mt. Bachelor is the Northwest destination of choice for families and adventurers seeking a fun, natural and unique mountain experience.
As a year round destination, Mt. Bachelor boasts nearly 4,300 acres of skiable terrain, 360 degrees of skiing off the summit, and 3,365 feet of total vert. With a season that extends through the month of May, Mt. Bachelor provides endless winter opportunity for all ability levels.
Are you a whitewater kayaker, surfer or paddleboarder?
The Whitewater Channel of the Bend Whitewater Park is your destination! This center channel of the park has four wave features for emerging to expert whitewater enthusiasts. The features are created by twenty-six, underwater pneumatic bladders, natural and man-made riverbed conditions and dynamic river flows.
Bend Whitewater Park is a feat of innovation and engineering with complexities and seasonal variables keeping the river recreation operators – or wave shapers – busy year-round. Less than 1/10th of a degree in gate movement can mean the difference between good and world-class.
No other whitewater park compares to the versatility, complexity and overall functionality of the Bend Whitewater Park. The operational controls begin with 26 air bladders, or ‘gates’ that have been permanently affixed to the river bed to regulate critical habitat, and to shape whitewater waves for recreation. These gates can be manipulated in real-time from anywhere in the world by touchscreen controls.