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Bend, OR 97709   

Colorado Avenue Dam Improvements

What is 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 has passed! What are the next steps?

The Bond Measure will fund a safe passage for boaters and tubers, improvements to the pedestrian bridge, and some improvements to McKay Park. Three channels will be constructed: a safe passage channel, a natural river area with enhanced fish and wildlife habitat and the whitewater surfpark with four wave features.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has committed to contribute $1.13M for this project, about 12% of the overall cost of the total package of improvements. Please attend our events, help spread the word and donate some funds to help finish this monumental improvement on the Deschutes River.

Why are these improvements being 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 proposed Colorado Dam improvements will provide a continuous paddle trail between the two parks.  Whitewater features incorporated into the design will also provide for recreational opportunities that can 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 will the improvements look like?

Preliminary plans call for a new pedestrian bridge, and a left-side channel designed for river user bypass and a river right channel for improved fish passage.  A third, mid-stream channel will provide whitewater surfpark features.

Who can use the new facilities?

All river users will be able to use either the whitewater channel or the bypass channel. The river will have 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 will be enhanced with the proposed 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 & Rec. The new development of this community river park will provide access to the river, connectivity to the River Trail system and plenty of passive recreational opportunities. There will also be parking and changing facilities for those recreating on the Colorado Dam Surfpark.


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 will the improvements cost?

The majority of the improvements to the Colorado Dam will be covered by the $29 Million Bond Measure that was passed in November 2012, but the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has committed to raising $1.13M to contribute to the project. Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has already raised $882K and is continuing to raise a remaining $248,000 to complete the fundraising needed for the surfpark.

When will construction begin?

Construction has begun!


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Pickin' & Paddlin' 2015 Line Up Announced!

Join us for Bend's favorite party by the river featuring boat demos and live music the last Wednesday of every month throughout the summer. Demos start at 4 p.m. and admission is $5 with children 12 and under free. 100% of the proceeds support the west coast's first whitewater park that is now in construction at the Colorado Bridge.

July 29
Brothers Comatose
Pitchfork Revolution
Honey Don’t

August 26
Rainbow Girls
Tone Red
Sweet Harlots

September 19 – SATURDAY
Renegade String Band
Franchot Tone

Construction Updates

It’s finally happening! The Colorado Dam Safe Passage and Bend Whitewater Park have an estimated completion date of the fall of 2015, according to Bend Metro Park & Rec District. There is still no final word on when the park and safe passage will be open for boaters and floaters and construction on either side of the river will continue through the summer of 2016. To see minute to minute updates check out this live webcam.



This project will renovate the Colorado Dam to create three channels downstream—a safe channel for paddleboards and floaters, the west coast’s first whitewater park and a natural river area to enhance habitat. This project will also replace the existing pedestrian bridge connecting McKay Park to Miller’s Landing Park. It is primarily funded by Bond Measure 9-86, which passed in 2012. Of the $9.68 M budgeted for this construction, Bend Paddle Trail Alliance has committed $1.13M which we have raised and continue to raise through grants, private sponsorships and fundraising events.


125 FOR 125

At the end of 2014, BPTA raised our contribution to Bend Park & Rec for the whitewater park from $900K to $1.13M. For one, the projected costs of the project were exceeding the original budget, and more importantly, we wanted to support the inclusion of pneumatic features (or bladders) in the current, which will inflate and deflate depending on the water levels. The bottom line: We wanted to ensure we were helping to deliver the best possible whitewater park to our community.With $125K left to raise, we are launching our 125 FOR 125 Campaign.

We're looking for 125 sponsors to each donate $1,000 or more to reach our goal of $125K. We need your help to reconnect the Deschutes River and enhance river health, beauty, safety and recreation. You can donate online by clicking in the header, or send us a check by printing off this form by clicking here. Do you know some river enthusiasts in our community that want to be a part of this lasting legacy? Please... forward along this email, or send them this PDF.

The 125 FOR 125 campaign will raise funds to cover final Colorado Dam improvement costs not funded by the Bond Measure. Your donation will improve the connectivity and recreation opportunities of the Deschutes River while creating a safer passage for fish, paddlers and floaters in Bend's urban core. 100% of your donation supports the work of BPTA.

Pickin’ Sponsorships

We still have a few sponsorship spots for Pickin' & Paddlin', Bend's favorite gathering by the banks of the river featuring live bands, boat and board demos, food carts and more. If you know of a business that might be interested please send them this Pickin' & Paddlin' Sponsorship Flier or have them email laurel {at} tumalocreek.com.

Thanks to our 2015 Sponsors:

Special thanks to our 2015 Pickin' & Paddlin' Sponsors:


Deschutes Brewery

Cascade Lakes Brewery

92.9 / Bend Radio Group



Edward Jones

Hydro Flask

Witt Wear


Eclipse Engineering

Rebound Physical Therapy

The Skjersaa Group at Duke Warner Realty


Wright Design Studio

Wall Street Suites

Sun Country Tours

Shelter Studio

Mill Point Dental



Lowes Group



Bowerman Guitars

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