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A Visitor’s Guide to Kelly’s Whitewater Park

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If you booked a vacation rental in McCall to experience all of the adventures in the great outdoors that Idaho has to offer, you can’t miss one of the premier whitewater parks in the area, Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade, Idaho.

A great day trip from McCall, Kelly’s Whitewater Park is one of the most beloved outdoor spots for kayakers, tubers, and paddle boarders, alike in Idaho. The Cascade Rapids, or the “Narrows,” provides endless hours of playtime at Kelly’s Whitewater Park, and visitors will not want to miss out on what this unique location has to offer.

Located just over half an hour from McCall in Valley County, this exciting water sports area is the perfect place to spend a day outside our small town.

But, contrary to the name, whitewater rafting is not all this park is about. Kelly’s is so much more than you might expect!

About Kelly’s Whitewater Park

Photo Credit: Joshua Denniley

Kelly’s Whitewater Park is a nonprofit outdoor adventure park located in Cascade, Idaho, created as a community adventure green space in 2010.

Most of all, it is worth mentioning that this astounding adventure land stands as a company that is dedicated to preserving the memory of its namesake, Kelly Brennan.

Kelly was an avid outdoorswoman and sports enthusiast who passed away in 1997. After her passing, Kelly’s family wanted a unique way to carry on the legacy that she left behind. Her unbridled love of the outdoors shines on in Kelly’s Whitewater Park.

Since Kelly’s is a nonprofit, visitors’ entry to the park is free! Kelly’s is well-known for giving back to the community. For instance, local school children can take free paddle boarding, surfing, and kayaking lessons!

With a stunning turquoise river surrounded by mountainous terrain, it offers both beauty and adventure. While visiting this expansive park, guests can take advantage of its easy access, which makes it a great place to relax or honor a complete challenge.

There are options for all levels of ability–beginners and experienced kayakers, along with full guided tours available to explore sections of the rapids where you will learn techniques and safety basics and learn about the natural history along the way.

Welcome Center

Outside the Welcome Center, you’ll find a statue memorializing Kelly Brennan and another statue honoring John Borbonus.

John Borbonus, born and raised in Boise, Idaho, was an American soldier who lost his life in Iraq. In John’s memory, his family donated the land for Kelly’s Whitewater Park.

Inside the welcome center, visitors will be blown away by the picturesque views of the Payette River and the surrounding landscape.

The history of Idaho is on full display here, where you should absolutely take some time to peruse exhibits about the local area.

Activities at Kelly’s Whitewater Park

Outdoor adventure is what Kelly’s Whitewater Park is all about, but it is best known for whitewater rafting! However, that’s not all there is to do at this amazing water playground.

Whitewater Kayaking and Rafting

Photo Credit: Artur Didyk

Whitewater kayaking and rafting are easily some of the most popular things to do at the park! But even if you’re new to these outdoor sports, Kelly’s Whitewater Park is among the best places to learn!

One thing that makes the park unique is its five different areas where the rapids are controlled, making it a safe place to gain experience.

This means that people of all ages can participate in these sports that might not be easily accessible elsewhere, where rapids are stronger and can turn into scary currents. Thankfully, the water conditions are less demanding because of the controlled rapids, making a trip here suitable for everyone!

Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Photo Credit: NicoElNino

Stand-up paddle boarding has taken the world by storm over the past decade, becoming a popular water sport to try- especially while on vacation!

Try your luck at balancing on top of the long paddle board and using an oar to paddle your way around the water. Paddlers will have a blast learning to SUP on the Payette River; just be prepared to get wet! There is a high probability of falling in!

Whitewater Surfing

Photo Credit: CSNafzger

You read that right, surfing! It’s hard to believe that surfing is an option anywhere in inland Idaho, but if you think about it, rapids produce waves, too!

Got an adventurer in the family? Have them try their skills as they work to balance their way across the rapids of the Payette River on a surfboard!

Whitewater surfing is not a water sport for the faint of heart, but it is an exciting way to spend the afternoon and try a novel water activity.

Family Tubing

Even if you’re not up for an adventurous afternoon of learning a new sport, there’s still something for you to enjoy! One of the most popular things to do at Kelly’s Whitewater Park is rent tubes. A float down the rapids on the river is the perfect way to relax and still enjoy the water.

You’ll see the natural beauty of Cascade, Idaho, as you catch a few rays with the family!

Other Activities at the Park

Water sports are not where the fun stops at Kelly’s! There are plenty of on-land opportunities for excitement, too!

Picnic Games

Once you’ve had your fill of spills in the river, try a pickup game of volleyball! Courts can be found in the park, and setups for bocce ball and horseshoes are all perfect games to play while enjoying a picnic lunch!

A Nature Walk on The Strand

Finally, Kelly’s connects to the middle of the beautiful 5-mile nature walk fondly known as “The Strand.” Also known as the Cascade River Walk, it is a popular local hiking path that winds its way along the Payette River.

Wildlife sightings and stunning natural scenery are two of the top reasons you definitely want to check out this peaceful walk as an excursion at Kelly’s Whitewater Park.

Equipment Rentals at Kelly’s

Most people don’t travel with all of the necessary gear to hit the river. No worries, Kelly’s has a full-service rental equipment company on site to help!

You can even rent tubes or boogie boards for the whole family. From kayaks to paddleboards, helmets, and life vests, Kelly’s Whitepark will have you outfitted in no time.

Water Sport Lessons

Something that separates this water park from the rest is your opportunity to learn while you adventure. So if you’ve been wanting to try rafting or paddle boarding but haven’t had the courage to start from the beginning, this is your chance!

The controlled rapids of the Payette River make learning a much easier process, and lessons focus on water safety and skill for all ages!

Kelly’s welcomes visitors of all skill levels, and an onsite academy offers free lessons to kids for standup paddleboarding and whitewater surfing. You just might find yourself enjoying a new water hobby more easily than you thought!

When to Visit Kelly’s Whitewater Park

The kick-off to outdoor adventure begins when Kelly’s Whitewater Park officially opens on Memorial Day weekend each year.

The park is accessible from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September.

Access to the park is FREE, but there are donation boxes throughout the park if you wish to contribute to the upkeep of the grounds.

Outdoor Fun at Kelly’s Whitewater Park

Whatever you choose to do at Kelly’s, you’ll learn a lot and have a blast while doing it!

Your getaway to McCall, Idaho, is sure to be one to remember when you add a day at Kelly’s Whitewater Park to your agenda. So book your ideal vacation rental, pack up the family, grab your gumption, and prepare for a fantastic morning on the water!

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