Once mocked as an eyesore, the Los Angeles River has experienced something of a renaissance in the last decade. Stretches of the waterway that were once synonymous with blight, decay and ugliness have been cleaned up and safety improved. Where once there was nothing to do along the the L.A. River’s concrete-lined banks, you can now enjoy bike paths, a string of pocket parks, and community events. Now, in a historic development, you can throw boating into the mix.
For the next couple of months, kayaks, canoes and rafts will be allowed on a two-and-a-half mile stretch of the Los Angeles River between Fletcher Drive just south of L.A.’s Atwater Village neighborhood and Steelhead Park just north of downtown L.A. It’s the first time boating has been allowed since the 1930s. It’s part of a pilot project organized by groups including the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Friends of the Los Angeles River, and the Los Angeles Flood Control District. If this trial program goes well, the boating program could become an annual summertime event and a great new L.A. tradition.
Here’s more information about how you can paddle the L.A. River . Below, photos of the boating program’s opening day and the people who were eager to get into the water
At an event before the boating program started, various officials and environmental activists talked about the long struggle to improve the Los Angeles River and turn it into a fully functioning recreational waterway. This stretch of the L.A. River is boarded by working class neighborhoods whose residents feel the waterway is finally getting the attention it deserves. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
The stretch of the L.A. River open to boating features mostly placid waters with a couple of mini-rapids. People don’t have to buy a permit or pay a fee to put their boats in the water. Just show up with your vessel of choice and cast off. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Those who paddle this stretch of the L.A. River will share the waterway with a small group of people who regularly fish from its banks. Fishing from boats is also allowed. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Rangers will be on hand during the boating program to help make sure boaters stay safe. Watercraft will be allowed in the L.A. River between sunup and sundown. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
The first day of the boating program encouraged many people to bring watercraft out of their garages. Jennifer Young, in the orange hat, frequently paddles her canoe in Montana and was looking forward to doing it on a river that’s only a stone’s throw away from her house. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
People who don’t have their own boats will be able rent watercraft from private operators. There will also be organized paddles of the L.A. River, with experts talking about its history and the abundance of plant and wildlife to be found along this stretch of the waterway. (Photo by Raphael Gonzalez)
The boating program does have rules. Only boats that can be navigated, like kayaks, canoes and rafts, will be allowed on the water. That leaves out floating on inner tubes or giant pieces of Styrofoam. Smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages also aren’t allowed on boats. You’ll also have to leave Fido at home. Pets aren’t allowed on the water. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)