Colorado Dam Project

Over a decade in the making.

What was the Colorado Dam?

Built in 1915, the Colorado Street Dam was constructed to provide a mill pond for the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon lumber mills. The mill pond above the dam stored logs in the river allowing easy access to the Ponderosa pine cut nearby.

Bond Measure 9-86

The Bond Measure 9-86 passed in November of 2012 funded the Bend Whitewater Park with four wave features, the Class II boater channel, improvements to the pedestrian bridge, and some improvements to McKay Park. Improvements also include a natural river area with enhanced fish and wildlife habitat.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance contributed $1.13M for this project, about 12% of the overall cost of the total package of improvements.

Why were these improvements made?

The 2005 opening of Farewell Bend Park provided more convenient public access to the Deschutes River. As a result, during the warm summer months thousands of people float a stretch of the river from Farewell Bend, through the Old Mill District, to Drake Park in Downtown Bend. The Colorado Dam improvements provide a continuous paddle trail between the two parks. Whitewater features incorporated into the design provide recreational opportunities that have positive local economic benefits. It is estimated that whitewater play features in Golden, CO bring approximately 2 million dollars per year to the local economy.

What does the project look like today?

Located in the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District, the park offers a variety of river recreation opportunities including tubing, kayaking, and surfing.

The park is made up of three distinctly different channels:

Passageway channel– a passageway for people floating the river from Riverbend Park to Drake Park.
Whitewater channel – four whitewater wave features for emerging and expert whitewater recreation enthusiasts.
Nature Habitat channel – a special place to protect nature; not accessible to public (or pets).

Who can use the new facilities?

River users can use the whitewater channel or Class II channel and many new floaters choose to portage around. Please get out and take a look at the channel before deciding to go through it. The river now has improved access from a new pedestrian bridge, McKay Park and the new Miller’s Landing Park. Many activities including floating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, bird watching and boater watching arena enhanced because of these improvements.

What is the Miller’s Landing Project?

In 2010, the Trust for Public Land coordinated the purchase of the 4.6 acre Miller’s Landing property on river right, just downstream from the Colorado Dam. The acquisition was integral to the overall vision for the area and is now owned and managed by Bend Parks & Recreation. The new development of this community river park provides access to the river, connectivity to the River Trail system and plenty of passive recreational opportunities. There is now parking and changing facilities for those recreating on the Bend Whitewater Park.

Will the improvements affect the wetlands above the Colorado Dam?

The wetlands and riparian sections above and below the Colorado Dam should not be affected as water levels will remain the same.

How will this affect fishing?
Whitewater features promote water aeration, deep pools and eddies that provide fish with enhanced habitat. The bypass/fish passage channel and whitewater channel will replace the current fish ladder. In the long term whitewater features can increase the quality of habitat for the fish and fishing should be positively affected as a result.

How much did the improvements cost?

The majority of the improvements to the Colorado Dam were covered by the $29 Million Bond Measure that was passed in November 2012, and the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance contributed $1.13M to the project. The contingency fund for the project was used during the winter of 2016 to make continued improvements to the design and the park continues to be a work in progress.