NewsIdaho Back Roads


Kelly's Whitewater Park continues to be a paradise for paddlers

Posted at 9:05 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 11:05:28-04

Kelly's Whitewater Park opened in 2010 and more than a decade later continues to see a lot of use by kayakers, surfers and people who enjoy the water.

"Oh it is awesome, it is kind of like the center of the community especially for the outdoor community," said Ryan Campbell who lives in Cascade. "We come here a couple of times a week with our kids and we just love it."

This park was the vision of former Cascade Mayor Richard Carter and several community members.

Hans Barbonus donated the land for Kelly's while Mark and Kristina Pickard donated the funds to make the park a reality.

Kristina's sister Kelly Brennan died in a tragic car accident at the age of 23 in 1997, her family wanted to remember her with something that shared Kelly's passion for the outdoors with like-minded people.

"I love kayaking it is my heart and soul it offers a whole connection to the Earth," said Gabby Nicholson who was kayaking at the park. "It feels pretty rad and then it is just so playful."

Nicholson works as a raft guide for Bear Valley, runs trips down the Main Salmon, kayaks when she has the chance, but she also shares her passion with the next generation of paddlers.

"We love coming out here, we actually work at Alzars as well so we get to bring down a bunch of kids all the time teach them how to roll," said Nicholson. "It’s a great place for beginners all the way up to advanced with the waves that it has so it is a pretty sweet spot."

I have met kayakers who make Kelly's their home base when they make trips to Idaho for adventure, I met a couple from California in the parking lot who told me they make a trip every year and certainly tourism is a key component of what Kelly's Whitewater Park means to Cascade.

“Yeah I think it is a big draw for outsiders," said Campbell. "I think it is cherished here by locals and it is also something to share with others."

The park runs off donations which keeps this park free to the public. They also provide clinics for kids at no charge.