“New” River Surfing Spot in Grand Junction, CO
When Zack and I were on our way out to Southern California this January to pick up blanks; we had a mishap that turned out to be a good thing. Zack’s trusty F-250’s (216,000miles) transmission went out just west of Grand Junction, Colorado. We limped back in town bummed at the realization that our surf….er…business trip was getting cut short.
While visiting with our friends at Summit Canyon Mountaineering in GJ we learned of a new spot that had appeared during the record high water of 2011. The 29 Road waves. We ran back to the dealership to grab a MCIT with the loaner car they gave us and headed out for a cold, January river surf session.
The spot could not have been more perfect for river SUP; a class II rapid with a huge eddy and recovery zone, multiple surf waves and no rocks. We started to plot a return to the spot for the spring. We were told it was optimal at low flows so we planned to come back before the run off started. Low and behold there is no run off to speak of this summer so this super fun river surfing site should be in all summer!
The rapid is just upstream of where 29 Road crosses the Colorado River in Grand Junction, Colorado. GJ is one of the warmest places in Colorado where the high country transitions to the desert. The water is reasonably warm and the air temps are very warm, making this a very comfortable Colorado river surfing site.
At the top of the rapid there is a large eddy that provides easy access to the first (and best) two waves. These waves are the type of features that made me fall in love with river surfing, first in a kayak then on a Badfish board. Wide and smooth with plenty of room to operate, we had five Badfish boards out there at once several times. We brought Haley Mills and Mike Tavares to the rapid and met one of Zack and my best friends, Blair, there for a session.
It was pure fun….everyone was hooting and hollering and high five’ing. The 9’0 MVP was the board of choice for me. I could stay on my feet the whole time, comfortably ferrying over to the eddy after a ride. The 9’0 absolutely lights up on these type of waves, the board simply parks on waves and turns so smoothly…it is the most underrated river surfing board around in my opinion. Haley was ripping the 7’6 MVP while Zack and Blair were loving the 8’0 River Surfer.
29 Road is a fantastic spot for river sup paddlers of all abilities. Beginners will find plenty of challenges for improving their skills, including just practicing running the mellow wave train and catching the eddy to walk up and do it again. There are no large boulders to avoid in the rapid that so its a low stress place to improve. The waves are extremely friendly with almost perfect eddy access.
Sorry in advance to the locals for blowing up your spot…but near as I can tell there aren’t any locals! We haven’t seen many folks other than kids tubing through the rapid in any of our sessions. We’ll probably plan some sort of demo/informal event there later in the summer. When the whole state dries up there will still be plenty of fun to be had in GJ at 29 Road! -Mike Harvey, Salida, CO