As kayaking event returns to Ogden River, watch out for high, fast moving water

Tuesday , September 12, 2017 - 5:30 AM2 comments

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The Ogden River will soon flow at about 10 times its normal summertime capacity as local kayakers do something they haven’t been able to in six years.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, the O-Town Kayakers will host the 2017 Ogden GNARrows Down River Race. The 1.5-mile kayak race down the Ogden River and through Ogden Canyon hasn’t been held since 2011 due to lack of water.

But the event is back this year, and water officials will be opening up Pineview Reservoir to make it happen.

Dave Wolfgram, one of the event’s organizers, said water will be gradually released from Pineview the day of the race, beginning at about 8 a.m. The Ogden River’s flow will reach about 500 cubic feet per second (CFS) during the race, Wolfgram said.

According to the National Weather Service, one CFS is roughly the size of a basketball.

Data from the United States Geological Survey shows the river below the reservoir has hovered near 50 CFS since late July, though the flow reached about 200 CFS over the weekend. Based on the last 28 years of USGS water level records, average daily discharge on the Ogden River below the reservoir is 67 CFS.

“There won’t be any erosion, obviously no homes at risk — nothing like that,” Wolfgram said. “But on that day of the race, there’s going to be a lot of water compared to what it’s been flowing at all summer. We just want people to be aware and to be safe.”

Wolfgram said there will be safety boaters in the water and 15 to 20 riverbank safety personnel stationed at different spots along the race route.

The excess water released from the dam to facilitate the race will be channeled into a canal that leads to Willard Bay, Wolfgram said, where it will be stored.

“People have been concerned about that too,” he said. “But we’re not wasting water just so we can have this race. The water will be pushed into Willard Bay and stored.”

Ben Quick, Pineview Water Systems general manager said Ogden City allowed the group to use a portion of their water allotment from the reservoir for the race. Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson said the kayak group obtained a special events permit from the city to hold the race.

The race begins just north of the trail head to Coldwater Springs Canyon and will end just below Rainbow Gardens at 1851 Valley Drive. Wolfgram said races will run until about 2 or 3 p.m. 

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at

Sign up for e-mail news updates.