Kayaking the Los Angeles River

Kayaking?* In Los Angeles? Are you kidding (teasing or joking with) me?

Few people would expect a kayak excursion (short journey organized so that people can visit a place) through Los Angeles on the L. A. River to be one of the hottest tickets (an event so popular that it’s difficult to get tickets for it) in town! But it recently was. Tickets for the excursion sold out in only a few minutes.

If you look at a map of Los Angeles, you’ll see that the L.A. River begins in the mountains north of Los Angeles and flows (moves) through the city. It passes through well-known areas such as Burbank, West Hollywood, and Griffith Park, and finally flows out into the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach.

The L.A. River provided most of Los Angeles’ water until 1913, when the Los Angeles Aqueduct – a man-made river for transporting water – was finished and began to bring water to Los Angeles from the mountains in northern California.

The land on both sides of the river is very low. It’s what we call a flood plain, an area that easily floods (is covered with water) when large amounts of rainwater come down out of the mountains and flows over the banks (sides) of the river. Floods were so unpredictable and so devastating (caused serious damage) that the government lined (covered) the rivers’ bed (bottom) and banks with concrete after a severe (very bad) flood in 1938. Today the river is an important part of the city’s flood control system, but it’s covered with concrete and only a small part of the river enjoys its original bed and banks. Those parts are still beautiful and provide a home for a variety of birds and fish.

Usually the river is off limits to (can’t be used by) recreational users. Some of the water in it comes from storm drains, electric power-generating (producing) plants, and other industrial sources and is polluted. When floods come, the water rises quickly, flows fast, and becomes very dangerous.

The excursion, called Paddle the L.A. River, was the work of an organization named L.A. River Expeditions. It’s a group of concerned citizens and organizations who began working to protect the river in 2008. As a result of their work, the government declared (made an official statement) it to be a “traditional navigable (usable by boats) waterway” in 2010 and gave it the same federal protection as a real river.

In 2011, more organizations joined L.A. River Expeditions and helped create the Paddle the L.A. River boating program and sponsor (organize and support) the first excursion. The number of people and organizations who support the program continues to grow. The program provides recreation (enjoyable activities) and education while helping to clean up the river and change the way people think about it.

Chris Erskine, a Los Angeles Times writer who joined the excursion, writes: “If someone had blind-folded you (covered your eyes) and plopped (dropped) you down here … you might think you’re in Idaho (a state with a lot of beautiful natural areas).”

The Los Angeles River project is a good example of what concerned citizens can do to encourage urban renewal – redeveloping or renovating (repairing, fixing) the bad parts of a city. Perhaps there are similar projects where you live. Urban renewal projects are becoming more and more necessary and common across the U.S. and around the world.

You can see pictures that were taken during the 2012 Paddle the L.A. River excursion on the L.A. River Expeditions web site. Click on the pictures on the side of the home page and use your left/right arrows or mouse to move from picture to picture.

*Kayaks are small, one- or two-person boats originally developed about 4,000 years ago by the native people of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia who lived near the Arctic Circle. They used them to hunt and fish on lakes, rivers, and coastal (where the land meets the ocean) waters of the Northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea. Today they’re used around the world for recreation.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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9 Responses to Kayaking the Los Angeles River

  1. Dan says:

    Thanks Worren,

    I must confess my ignorance. I did not even know that L.A. had a river.
    I had never heard of it before.

    I looked at it flying over with Google earth. At some points it looks dried out.
    It probably depends on the period of the year they took the picture.

    I have also noticed there is a little lake there. It’s called lake Silver Lake Reservoire.
    How does it taste tap water in L.A.? Is it good?


  2. Rasoul says:

    Hello to Dr. Warren and all of ESLPOD listeners,

    Transferring water from adjacent basin to another basin is Interbasin Water transferring which is done for three major reasons. First and foremost is alleviating water shortage. Second reason is hydroelectrically purposes, and finally in some cases it use for political reasons. By any means which water transferring structures created, new ecosystem and manmade scenes will created. Constructing water transfer structures have their own benefits and drawbacks.



  3. Peter says:

    Hello world!!:)
    Dear Waren
    have you ever kayoked down the river that runs through LA?
    I didn’t know about the river to beging with.
    However, I m not a stranger to kayokying and canoeing
    Well, as you might know there are more than one million lakes across Canada most of them are suitable for riding a boat:)
    But,there is a popular river in Canada called “French river “which is the best soecially for kayokying and canoeing.
    You should go see for yourself.
    The area is a persofunication of Canada’s wild life both flora and fauna.
    Man , The river run through a astonishingly beautiful , dazzling ,dreamy landscape including the assortment of breath taking scenery. i don’t know how to put it ,how to demonstrate it. You know ,it feels like a stretch of heaven on earth. The peace and quite of the terrain is like a very strong sleeping pill at night, the fresh weather of the land ,on the other hand , is very energetic , and invigorating during the day.
    Most part of the river is a conservative area with family resorts ,and lodgings that accomodate visitors with a large variety of marine activities like fishing ,canoeing ,kayokying and so on.
    French river is situated in Eastern Ontario South of Georgian Bay and it is quite long. My guess is 110 kilometers or so. I m not sure ,though
    You know me , I m too lazy to look It up :))

    The river runs through an intact nature that has remained intact for 200 or 300 Houndred years. Can you believe that . It is amazing
    But ,every body around Canada knows it as a sort if very popular trivia

    Warren ,my man
    I have been up there.
    In fact ,we as a group canoed in the river for more than one week.as you can see it wasn’t a recursion by any means. It was quite a trip. we canoe down the river
    And put up tents on the bank by the river during the night.
    We set up tents , made bonfire ,cooked ,wrestled ,arm wrestled , And the funniest of all we made shaddow puppets on the tent.

    We were a realtively large group consisting of 20 individuals, guys and gals
    All in all, It was a fun trip.
    Every summer ,I usually have a two or three trips up there for some sailing:))
    I know Jeff might think I m crazy or sth. But, let me tell you I love a nature walk through weeds and plants that are sometimes up to my waste ,and guys I m 6.3 tall. Go figure!!
    I know how much Jeff hates it:))
    Dear Jeff,
    Color me cuckoo ,but I love every second of it :))

    Dear warren thanks for the beautiful post
    Your post was quite a trip down LA river.
    I gotta tell you, i always enjoy reading your posts ,and I love to see more of you on blog.


    Dude, Your posts make me think; It rarely happens :))


  4. Peter says:

    Dear Dan ,
    I didn’t know either
    don’t beat yourself up ,bro
    I bet my bottom dollar that we r not alone on this. There must be more among our dear classmates who didn’t know about the LA river.
    I , myself, had no inkling about the whole river deal in L.A.
    The funny thing , I was in L.A. Once or twice and I didn’t know squate about the river. See , how clueless I m :))

    Well, what matters is that now ,we know.



  5. Peter says:

    Dear Dan,
    Drinking water in LA is potable for sure
    I mean the watter supplied to the household meet the standards

    but ,I don’t know how it taste like
    As far as I know most people ,at least the people I know buy bottels of drinking water simply because they have their doubts about the pipe lines that carry water in to the household. They argue that the pipe lines get rusty after a while and the build-up rust contaminates the potable water along the way and makes the tap water toxic.
    On the other hand ,some response, ” Baloney ” the tap watter is as pure as it can get.:)

    Now ,whose side are on?:)

  6. Peter says:

    Dear warren ,
    I didn’t get it
    I mean I m baffled
    If the river flows throw the city , the only scenery you get are buildings,cars ,and roads.
    My understanding is a small part of the river should flow through a park or sth.if it is the case , it must be too short for excursion of any kinds.
    how has it made home for birds and stuff if it goes through the city
    Are you saying that in the morning when Angelicas wake up chances are they see a parrot or owl is staring at the through the window bedroom :)))
    You know what I mean it doesn’t make sense

    French river is different. It is geniuly a part of an intact nature flowing through a secluded area all along. Even in some parts ,the river is flanked by tall seamless rocks that makes it even more perfect and original.
    There is just one smalt part of highway that blemishes an otherwise a perfect picture. The highway overlooks a small part of the river from which you can see people canoeing through the river and the highway is closed enough to wave hello to people enjoying on the river; if you wanna greet them you must shot at the top of your voice otherwise there would be no way they can hear.needless to say that part of the highway overlooking the river is a very popular pit spot . Oddly enough , there are no restrooms ,plaza,or resturants of any kinds over there . It is just a vast shoulder on the side of the highway that is always so packed with parked cars that gives an illusion of a severe pile-up or sth as you are driving pass the shoulder.
    need less to say there are a lot of rubberneckers (thanks Lucy , Podcast 287) who slow down the traffic in the area:)


    The rubbernecker:))

  7. Peter says:

    The thing is ,sometimes it gets very lonely around here ,and blog interaction is the next best thing
    I usually spend my weekeneds alternating between blog ,and scripts reading as well as lessons taking.

    Generally speaking ,I strongly believe humore plays a very important role in creating a delightful atmosphere for leaning languages.
    My apology , if sometimes I cross the line.

    I personaly believe ,The humour expedites the absorbing process of the freshly introduced materials.
    I must say ,warren’s posts are always riddled with words and expressions enteries that are totally new to me.
    I ,for one ,really enjoye his posts. And I would love it if I could see more of his works around the blog

    Dear warren ,
    I can get enough of your posts
    Indeed ,Jeff has a good eye for spotting the best in the linguistic ,academic world.

    Waren ,my good man
    I appriciate the effort

    Yours truly


  8. Dan says:

    Thanks Peter,

    I do not understand why so many people buy bottled water at the mall.
    It seems that in the U.S. only, or Europe, we spend billion of dollars in bottled water each year, that crazy!

    Personally I get the water I dink from a public water spring here in the town where i live in.
    When that is not available due to safety reasons I drink tap water wich is good here.
    If you want to Google my town look for Brusimpiano, Italy.
    It’s a nice little town by the lake of Lugano probanly the size of a single block of L.A.


  9. Hank says:

    I just bought a inflatable kayak. I dont have any experience in kayaking. Wondering can I join you guys on the next outing ? If not can I go myself after I get my kayak. Please tell me where to go kayaking in LA River. Thanks.

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