Three years in a row makes it routine: Memorial Day heralds the start of prime recreation season on the Los Angeles River. River advocates see the boating program as a first step toward one day opening the full 51–mile course of the L.A. River to the public. The stretch through Elysian Valley is part of a larger section of river that L.A. officials hope to return to a more natural state through a 1.3 billion dollar restoration project.
The Mountain Recreations and Conservation Authority oversees the open zone, which is open sunrise to sunset, through Labor Day, to boating and fishing, and you don't need special reservations. But the number of programs has increased, so here's a quick roundup:
- Bring your own: Big news this year: for the first time you can avoid pesky rental fees and drop your own boat into the river at at Rattlesnake Park off Fletcher Drive in Elysian Valley, and at the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone in Encino.
- Rent a kayak, or a guide: a nonprofit called L.A. River Kayaks offers both, including two experienced guides, Anthea Raymond and Nate Hubbard. They're in both sections of the river, and they note that the 1.5 mile Sepulveda stretch is a little easier than the Frogtown-Elysian Valley access for the Glendale Narrows.
- Lay back and take a trip: Paddle the River offers a 90 minute trip through soft-bottomed river in the Sepulveda Basin area for $50, that includes river history and politics. It's run by the L.A. Conservation Corps, so it benefits programs for at-risk youth. George Wolfe and Los Angeles River Expeditions once again offer a 2 ¼ hour trip in the Sepulveda River section too, as they have since 2011; Wolfe and others were in the crew of people who paddled the length of the river 2008, demonstrating that this kind of activity was even possible. (If you haven’t seen Rock the Boat: Saving America’s Wildest River, a documentary about the trip, you really should!) And LARKS, the Los Angeles River Kayak Safari, offers a longer, nearly 4-hour tour for $75, which includes a bike ride as well as time in a 2-plus mile stretch of the Glendale Narrows section of the river. Tickets are hot, so get in there early!
You don't need a special permit. But if you're looking for competition, brush up your skills all summer, then get into the Friends of the Los Angeles River's Off Tha' Hook fishing derby September 5.
Audubon Debs Park is doing 90-minute guided bird walks May 23, June 27 and July 25.
Walks, talks and campouts!
Play the LA River is compiling a pretty good calendar year-round for all kinds of activities. And Friends of the LA River has The Frog Spot, open till 8 PM on weekends, offering coffee, beer and wine, vegan snacks, and entertainment.
This post has been updated.