Colorado man takes surfing to new lengths on river

SOUTH PLATTE RIVER, CO (AP) - Just in time for summer, a new Colorado surf spot will let you ride the river.

Ben Nielsen learned to surf as a college student in California and brought that love of riding ocean waves to Colorado.

He can’t be choosy, but there are a few spots along the South Platte River big enough for a board.

“You ride on a surfboard just like you would in the ocean,” Nielsen said. “I think the biggest difference is, in the ocean you’re actually moving with the wave. In the river, the wave is stationary.”

Along with being an avid surfer, Nielsen is the engineer for River Run Park, a $15 million project to revamp a one mile stretch of river in Englewood and Sheridan.

Along with new trails, a playground, and beach area, two man-made wave features will let river visitors surf, tube or kayak.

“There’s really nothing like this on the South Platte River,” Nielsen said.

Surfers can start enjoying the water in July for free, and the rest of the project should wrap up in about two years.

It’s not a water park, so that means no lifeguards.

Nielsen suggests putting on helmets and life jackets before hitting the waves, because the water is so shallow.

And of course, he recommends wearing a life jacket before hitting the waves.

“The idea is really to be able to come down here with your family on any given day in the summer and to be able to surf,” Nielsen said.

The public project is six years in the making.

A long list of local governments and the state are footing the bill.