In 1880, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad chose a site on the banks of the Animas River for its depot, and the rest, as they say, is history. The city grew up around the river and still hugs its shores today, so what could be more Durango than a festival celebrating it?
Animas River Days takes place Saturday, June 2, and celebrates the river and Durango’s love of it. It all began when local paddling legend Nancy Wiley put on the first whitewater rodeo in Durango in 1983. Over the years, Animas River Days has drawn world-class paddlers and water pros from all around the world. The city’s famed whitewater park opened in 2014 and in four short years has hosted national competitions, including the U.S. National team trials for freestyle, slalom, and wild water events as well as the U.S. National Championships in slalom and open canoe slalom.
The festival takes place at Santa Rita Park, where the city’s whitewater park makes for perfect kayaking, canoeing, rafting, surfing and paddleboarding competitions as well as an inflatable floatie rodeo and — everyone’s favorite — a river parade.
River-lovers and fun-seekers can enjoy food and vendor booths, a beer garden and kids’ activities all day long.
Thursday, May 31
The 35th annual Animas River Days kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 31, with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at Animas City Theater. Tickets are $15 and available at 4Corners Riversports and the film festival includes free prizes, food and drink!
Saturday, June 2
The main event takes place Saturday, June 2, at Santa Rita Park on the banks of the Animas River at 2700 Main Ave.
- 8:30-10:30 a.m. — Kayak and Canoe Slalom, Sponsored by Durango Whitewater
- 10:30-11:15 a.m. — Expert SURF/SUP Competition (Wave TBD), Sponsored by Badfish
- 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Smelter Smackdown Raft Slalom, Sponsored by the Animas Amazons
- Noon — Ska Beer Garden and Toast Mobile Lounge Open, No outside alcohol allowed, no dogs allowed
- 12:45-1:30 p.m. — Junior Freestyle Kayak
- 1-1:30 p.m. — Inflatable Rodeo, Sponsored by 4Corners Riversports
- 1:45-2:45 p.m. — Boatercross, Sponsored by Ska Brewing
- 2:45-3:30 p.m. — Pro Surf/SUP Competition (Wave TBD), Sponsored by Badfish *Prelims Friday Night*
- 3-4 p.m. — Expert Freestyle Kayak
- 4-5:30 p.m. — Pro Freestyle Kayak Finals, Sponsored by The Greenery *Prelims Friday Night*
- 6-7:30 p.m. — Parade Viewing Party with Posh Josh doing a riverside DJ set
- 10 p.m. — Late Night Party at El Rancho Tavern featuring the jams of J-Calvin’s Funk Express. Get your groove on!
Park your kayak and put your feet up at the Durango Econo Lodge Inn & Suites. Our Durango hotel is 2 miles north of Santa Rita Park, and we love a good river parade! Book your room at the Econo Lodge Durango today!