High waters cancel several events at Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival

Despite several amateur events getting cancelled, the United States Rafting Association still competed in their National Championship. / Taylor Bishop -- FOX21 News
Despite several amateur events getting cancelled, the United States Rafting Association still competed in their National Championship. / Taylor Bishop -- FOX21 News

CAÑON CITY, Colo. — Hundreds came out to the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival in Cañon City this weekend to watch the pros and the amateurs float the white waters of the Arkansas River.

Several events were either cancelled or changed due to the high water levels, but that didn’t stop everyone from riding the rapids.

“It’s high water and it makes it really fast and fun,” United States Rafting Association athlete Jeremiah Peck said.

“It looks to me like it’s really running high,” spectator Roger Loo said.

And high water means high danger.

“The big one that we’re missing is the build your own boat race, and that will always be the centerpiece of this event.” Kyle Horne, Co-Chairman of the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival, said. “It’s always the crowd favorite. We have 3,000 to 4,000 people lining the banks of the Arkansas to normally watch that.”

But there was still plenty to see from the professionals, like the United States Rafting Association’s National Championship.

“I’m really happy the whole event went down,” Peck said.

His team has more than 100 years of combined experience, and he said when the water looks like this you should always raft with an experienced guide.

“I know it’s a high water year and sadly there’s been fatalities on the river and that’s a part of the risk of high water,” Peck said.

FOX21 talked to Colorado Springs residents who said it’s events like this that attract them to Cañon City.

“We’re real proud of Cañon City,” Loo said. “They’re developing into a really nice town down here and they’re doing a lot of great things.”

“It’s all about promoting outdoor activities, people getting active, getting in the water or staying on land, but whatever they do knowing that they can do things in Fremont County that they can just have a great time by getting outdoors,” Horne said.

Even though the high water caused a few hiccups, there were plenty of things to do on land, like live music, booths, and food vendors.

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