Grab your kayak: The LA River is open for the summer

Kayakers paddle their way along the LA River through the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley. The site is one of two, 2.5 mile stretches of the river opened to the public on Memorial Day.
Kayakers paddle their way along the LA River through the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley. The site is one of two, 2.5 mile stretches of the river opened to the public on Memorial Day. Cynthinee/ Flickr

Two portions of the Los Angeles River will open to the public for kayaking and fishing beginning on Memorial Day.

The two “recreation zones” are in the Sepulveda Basin and Elysian Valley, off the 5 freeway. Each stretch spans about two and half miles, which will remain open until late September, seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset.

Access to the river is free for visitors who have a kayak. The LA Conservation Corps has also scheduled several guided tours this summer at the Sepulveda Basin site at a cost of $30.

At the Frogtown stretch of the river, tours will be hosted by LA River Kayak Safari and LA River Expeditions.

This is the third year the river has been open to recreational activity. Fernando Gomez, chief ranger for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority says visitors can expect a similar level of service to that of county and city parks. 

“There’s a certain expectation that there’s going to be rangers around, that there’s structured usage,” said Gomez.  “It’s just like using a trail in one of our parks.”

His organization manages recreation at the river, but the zones are the result of collaboration between several public agencies including the County of Los Angeles, L.A. City and the Army Corps of Engineers.

In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency declared the river a navigable waterway. A pilot kayak program followed in 2011.

Gomez believes that attitudes towards the river are shifting, from seeing the water way as a piece of infrastructure to part of the natural environment.

“People are seeing the possibilities; it has a great value.”

For more information about the LA River Recreation program, click here.

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