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Norfolk's newest recreational spot, North Fork Whitewater Park, opens Saturday

Surf or kayak the Elkhorn River? Seven structures built underwater have turned a stretch of the river into a destination for the adventurous.
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jun 05, 2024

NORFOLK, Neb. (KMTV) — The Elkhorn River has been central to Norfolk's past. Starting Saturday, it will attract surfers and kayakers at the years-in-the-making North Fork Whitewater Park, which now has seven structures, or lifts, underwater creating a whitewater experience.

  • Visitors should use Winter Park as a launch area (Johnson Park is still closed for construction).
  • Life jackets are required and helmets are encouraged. Both are available for free - stocked at stations at the park(s).
  • Click here for additional information.

In 2021, Mary Nelson reported on Norfolk's momentum - including plans to build the park. Continue reading for that story:
Since when was removing stop lights a sign of growth? In Norfolk, it is a harbinger of things to come - a literal sign that downtown will soon be more bike- and foot-friendly.

"I hear the word "quaint" a lot... you know?"

Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning prefers to think of his city as bustling.

"You can see it around us. What we're hoping to create is a buzz and an intangible sense that there's activity and energy and vibrancy," he said.

Downtown Norfolk has a nice mix of businesses: 15 bars, and a dozen or so clothing boutiques. Leaders also found ways to turn what they don't have into an asset.

"Norfolk is in a unique position - just where we are. We're not on an interstate system. We're not terribly close to a metro area. And so, the community has always had to think a little bit differently and view things differently just to survive," Moenning divulged.

He estimates that about 60 percent of new businesses were started by people with ties to the city. The rest are newcomers.

The 'north fork' is a few blocks from downtown. Talk about making changes to that area started in 2016. When the ground thaws next year (2022), construction will begin on the North Fork Riverfront Redevelopment Project, or "The Fork." An 1,800-foot span will create a whitewater experience for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The project is made possible through investments by the NRD, State of Nebraska, city parks funds and private partnerships.

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