News & Articles

Bend Whitewater Park (Formerly known as Colorado Dam Safe Passage)

Bond-Funded Project

BPRD Project Phase 4 graphic




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Closures, Detours & Maps

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Dam Cam Live Feed & Timelapse Video



Location: Colorado Avenue Dam on the Deschutes River, between Mckay and Miller's Landing Parks.

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Total Budget: $9,681,985

Funding Sources:

  • Bond - $7,721,025
  • Partnership - $1,133,737 (Bend Paddle Trail Alliance)
  • Facility Reserve Fund - $ 827,223

Estimated Completion: Fall 2015* (* Park and trail construction on either side of the river will continue into summer 2016).

Overview: The Bend Whitewater Park project will renovate the Colorado Dam to create three channels downstream--a safe channel for paddle boarders and other floaters, a whitewater play area and a natural river area to enhance habitat. The project also includes replacing the existing bike/pedestrian bridge that connects McKay Park to Miller’s Landing Park. The project is primarily funded by the 2012 General Obligation Bond Measure and has a budget of $9,681,985. The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance is a sponsor on this project and has committed $1,133,737 in fundraising towards the project.  Please visit for more information on how to support their efforts. The project is anticipated to be completed by fall of 2015.

McKay Park, located directly adjacent to the Bend Whitewater Park project, will be upgraded to support activities associated with the project including accessible trails, a larger beach, restrooms, changing rooms, an observation deck and new pavilion.  Construction of McKay Park will be completed in late 2016.

Additionally, the District is designing a pedestrian undercrossing under Colorado Avenue to improve accessibility along the Deschutes River Trail, adjacent to the Bend Whitewater Park project. Construction of the undercrossing is anticipated to begin in late 2015.

Bend Whitewater Park Rendering

Bend Whitewater Park Rendering

Current Project Update: Construction of stage two (the whitewater channel) is nearing completion and work has begun on the safe passage channel. The pneumatic bladder system has been installed on the wave blocks within the whitewater channel. Work also continues on the new pedestrian bridge. Please continue to observe closures and detours while traveling in and around the project area. Closures and detours will be in place around the area until 2016.

Colorado Undercrossing and DRT Trail Extensions:  Final design was delivered April 14.  The project goes to the City Planning Commission for water overlay zone (WOZ) permit review on April 27. Project bidding is scheduled for April 21-May 19, with a presentation to the Board at the June 2 meeting for approval of the construction contract.  The project schedule targets an October through November 2015 closure window to allow sufficient time to order materials, complete design and coordinate with utilities and stakeholders. Coordination with City staff on the Colorado Lift Station Project continues, as both teams are working to construct the two projects within the same closure window.

For all Bend Whitewater Park project past updates, click here.



Please be aware that there will be mandatory take-out and portage around the dam for all river users until all in-water work is complete in fall 2015. The construction area expands beyond the Colorado Dam and will affect access to the following locations with both short and long term closures: Colorado Avenue, Miller’s Landing Park, Deschutes River, Deschutes River Trail on both east and west sides, McKay Park, Colorado Dam footbridge, Shevlin Hixon Road and private properties in the north end of the Old Mill District. In addition, the City of Bend is constructing new sewer infrastructure in the vicinity so additional closures by the City should be expected. 

BPRD appreciates the community’s patience during the project.

Click to view closure and detour maps for the project. 

Background: River floating began in earnest in Bend when Farewell Bend Park opened access to the calm moving portion of the Deschutes River above the Colorado Street Dam in 2005. Since then, there have been several accidents and one death at the dam. Once the safe passage channel is complete, river users will be able to travel through the dam without having to portage.

Additional Information: For more information on Colorado Dam Safe Passage, contact Chelsea Schneider, Project Manager at (541) 706-6155 or or Brian Hudspeth, BPRD Construction Manager, at (541) 706-6137 or


Colorado Dam before Construction


Bend Whitewater Park after Construction, future rendering