In the first two years of its existence, the Royal Gorge River Initiative Organization has already carried out a number of projects and organized several events, and they have big plans underway for this year.
The nonprofit took over the work of the former Whitewater Kayak and Recreation Park group as stewards of the whitewater park, raising funds to care for it and make improvements.
“We expanded our mission when we became a 501c3 to do community outreach, community whitewater sports and conservation programs,” said Chris Moffett, president of RG RIO.
In 2021, RG RIO and a host of other local groups and businesses teamed up to establish a lifejacket loaner program, which will resume this year in early May, and they organized a 35-mile river cleanup.
“We were in the river pulling stuff out,” Moffett said. “We had an RV hull last year, tires and a lot of miscellaneous trash. We removed over a thousand pounds of trash from the river.
The next cleanup will be on May 1 and volunteers are still needed.
RG RIO is also a partner of the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival. The 2022 event is scheduled for July 22-23 at Centennial Park. To sign up to help with the event, email the Cañon City Chamber of Commerce at [email protected]
New this year, RG RIO will host a series of community raft races in May, June, July and August.
“It’s kind of like the community raft race in the whitewater festival, but it’s going to be right in the whitewater park,” Moffett said. “It will be the slalom event and the head-to-head event, where you race against another boat to get around the buoys.”
It will be a cumulative event with prizes at the end.
RG RIO continues to work on a river surfing project and adding a stand up paddle wave near the former Skyline Steel property.
“Almost everything we do is fundraise for that, and we’re going to continue to restore our bank there,” Moffett said.
None of these events would be possible without the support of the community.
“That’s what’s great, getting people to engage in their river and help out,” he said. “It’s everyone’s river.”
Looking to the future, RG RIO has several goals that it hopes to achieve over the next 10 years.
“Ideally in 10 years the river surfing project is complete – that’s the new feature plus some additional river work – and we want to host an International Rafting Federation World Championship,” Moffett said. “It’s our dream.”
They also want to relaunch the Royal Gorge Gargoyles Youth rafting team for 15-19 year olds.
“And we want to continue to deliver a great whitewater festival year after year and continue to defend the river and maintain an awesome river corridor through the city,” Moffett said. “Our goal is to get locals to use it.”
To learn more, visit https://royalgorgerio.org/ or follow RG RIO on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/royalgorgerio. For more information, email [email protected]
To view Moffett’s presentation on RG RIO to the Cañon City Vision Committee on November 17, visit https://bit.ly/3zXmXdT.
Events to come
- May 1st River Cleanup Day
- Community series of raft races in May, June, July and August
- First Friday/150th Anniversary Celebration at Centennial Park on July 1
- The Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival is scheduled for July 22-23 at Centennial Park