Landlocked mountain towns aren’t always known for their water culture. But for those with the will to reimagine the possibilities for play on local waterways, a new world of opportunity opens up. Enter river surfing. When the snow melt hits the river just right, these static waves create the perfect swell for those looking for surf in the mountains. Here are some notable river waves from all over the country, both natural and man made – we’ll see you out there this summer.
Lowell, ID (or at least, that’s the nearest city….): The Lochsa Pipeline is a massive wave located on the Lochsa River near Lowell, Idaho – or to get specific, at mile marker 113.5 off ID-12. While the river is a popular choice for rafters and kayakers, the wave is also almost always being surfed by shortboard enthusiasts as well. The wave isn’t exactly for beginners as it’s characterized by its steepness and difficult exit line, but everyone from spectators to surfers ends up enjoying the emerald glassiness of the Lochsa. Take the board out in the Lochsa’s crystal clear, ice cold waters and then hit up the natural hot springs after, a short 20 minute drive from the wave.
Jackson WY: The whitewater section of the Snake River is a favorite spot for river surfers in the Tetons. Located at Lunch Counter (one of the major rapids hit by commercial rafting trips), the wave is best surfed in the early spring and late summer when the flow is a little lower. At higher water, the feature gets slightly washed out. Watch out for kayakers and rafts!
Holyoke, MA: “Wave O Saurus” isn’t a dinosaur sized wave, but it is located right next to a series of dinosaur footprints found close by on the banks of the Connecticut River. While the river typically flows anywhere from 12,000-30,000 CFS, it can occasionally reach flows of up to almost 70,000 CFS – or even higher. While the higher flows make for a fun, advanced surf, the majority of the year the river flows at a rate that makes it easy to wade out behind the wave and jump over it onto your board.
Missoula, MT: Brennan’s wave is a super popular spot suited for beginners to experts. Located in the middle of Missoula on the Clark’s Fork River, the wave is surfable all year long – and at 900 to 3500 CFS it makes a great spot to learn the basics of river surfing or for more advanced riders to hone their skills. There are actually two waves to surf: Middle Brennan’s and Main Brennan’s. The characteristics of the waves change drastically depending on river flow, so be sure to check conditions before heading out!
David Bosler @d_bosler at Middle Brennans Wave snapped by @natepmeyer. @strongwatersurf ▼ Follow @riverbreakmagazine to keep you in the know about everything river surfing! ▲ #riversurfing #riversurf #riverbreak #RVBK #surfing #surf #riversurfer #river #riverwave #surfer #landlocked #landlockedsurfing #inlandsurf #stoke #stoked #secretspot #photooftheday #picoftheday #shotoftheday #fitness #fun #getoutside #adventure #brennanswave #kayak #montana #missoula #sup #beautiful #instasurf
Littleton, CO: Those in the front range don’t have to travel far for urban river surfing. Hawaii 5-O wave is located on the South Platte River. Due to it’s wedge style break, those who frequent the spot say it often feels like surfing a boat wake. Park your car at the baseball fields at Centennial Park for an afternoon pick-up game and a surf for a solid multi-sport afternoon.