A Park Designed With Kids’ Input Helps Them Learn to Ride Bikes By the Colorado River
One Riverfront and the City of Grand Junction worked with a broad coalition to build a bike park, basketball court, and playground in an underserved neighborhood by the Colorado Riverfront Trail.
One Riverfront, a nonprofit that brings the Mesa County community together to steward its waterways, pooled resources with a broad coalition to help make the Dos Rios community park a better play space. Dos Rios is sandwiched between the Riverside neighborhood and the Colorado River. It’s named for the two rivers that meet in the heart of Grand Junction, the Gunnison and the mighty Colorado. Despite its grand namesakes, the park had room for improvement.
To make it better, One Riverfront worked with GOCO Inspire, Grand Junction’s RIO (Recreation Inspired by the Outdoors) Coalition, local youth leaders from the Riverside Educational Center, and many other partners. Together, they focused on one of the area’s biggest tourism drivers, bikes.
A lot of kids in Riverside don’t know how to ride a bike. The Dos Rios improvement project added a bike park to help them learn. The improvements also include slides, swings, a basketball court, a picnic area, and public restrooms. The park has always been a good resource. Now it’s far more user-friendly. It’s also a jumping-off point for valley-wide recreation.
“We’re excited because it’s getting the children out and on the riverfront trail,” says Michele Rohrbach of One Riverfront. That’s the Colorado Riverfront Trail, which runs beside the park and connects to miles of bike trails along the Colorado River, including a river access point on City property just upstream of Dos Rio. (The river launch is also getting an update from the City.)
Because of this connectivity, One Riverfront sees the park as a gateway to the city’s great outdoor spaces and to the rivers that run through the valley and carve its canyons. “We thought it was important to get kids outside so they could learn to enjoy it and want to participate in rafting, cycling, walking, and just going out and being a part of nature,” says Rohrbach. “Future stewards are really what we’re looking for,” she says.
These Kids are Going Places
Getting comfortable on a bike offers a lifetime of inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and healthy commuting. It’s also a great way to recreate. As kids grow and learn to bike safely, they can switch to road riding or move to the community’s beginner mountain trails in the Lunch Loop area, only a 2.5-mile bike ride away. The City hopes to build a pedestrian bridge across the Colorado so they can ride those 2.5 miles without leaving a bike path.
Helping disadvantaged kids enjoy their own backyard will improve their quality of life at face value. It will also help them gain access to a booming industry. Biking is big business, and Grand Junction, Fruita, and Loma are major mountain and road biking destinations. Getting local kids involved is a great way to support their physical, mental and emotional development while granting them entry into a potential career path.
Learning to ride a bike is a childhood right of passage. For kids in the Grand Valley, it also opens the door to world-class opportunities.
Turning Towards the Colorado River
The Dos Rios project is part of a wave of commercial, residential and recreational improvements along the banks of the Colorado River in the Grand Valley, which starts with Palisade’s peaches and ends with mountain biking bliss in Loma, Colorado. Most of the upgrades are happening in Grand Junction, the Valley’s juggernaut. After years of nearly ignoring the river and lining its banks with salvage and junkyards, the city is turning to embrace and benefit from this invaluable natural resource.
The Dos Rios project benefited from robust nonprofit, agency and foundation networks in the Grand Valley and from savvy funding strategies. One Riverfront used Forever Our Rivers grant funds to leverage other funding for the park. Leveraging money to grow funding potential is one of Forever Our Rivers’ founding principles, and the Foundation is proud to support this multifaceted community project.
Other project partners and funders include the Colorado West Land Trust, Colorado Canyons Association, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mesa County Partners, Mesa County Health Department, Riverside Task Force, Colorado Health Foundation, Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, and the Junior Service League.