with gallery: Water levels keep kayakers moving on reopened Argo Cascades in Ann Arbor
After being closed for a week, the Argo Cascades Saturday were once again thrilling kayakers and folks who chose to float down the Huron River in Ann Arbor in inner tubes.
"Some people still think the Cascades is closed," said Joe Wilhelme, who works for Ann Arbor's Parks and Recreation Department at the Argo Canoe Livery. "We're busy but we might be even busier had it not closed for that week. A lot of people know that the water is low."
Ann Arbor officials closed the Cascades, a series of drop pools separated by rocky formations, July 26, because of low flow conditions caused by this summer's drought. The river was at its lowest level in 10 years, according to staff members at the park.
The levels recovered enough to reopen the Cascades by Thursday, and Saturday kayaks and inner tubes were moving at a pretty good pace.
"I counted nine rapids," said 10-year-old Alexander Davis of Ann Arbor, who was tubing on the Cascades with his mom. "I like getting wet and really liked the big drop at the end."
"The rapids are fun but it was kind of slow in between," said his mom, Carol Davis.
The cascades have been a popular recreation spot since their opening earlier this year. The city spent $1.17 million constructing the kayak feature and recently approved a contract to lease 40 extra parking spaces at nearby property due to the popularity of the site.
The Mazzone family of Clarkston, who were tubing on the river Saturday, said the Cascades were worth the hour-long drive.
"We found it on line and just the pictures made us want to come," said Rick Mazzone.
Also tubing were Fran and Mark Coley of Ann Arbor who had scoped out the area the night before.
"They did a nice job setting this up," said Mark Coley.
Josh Crowton and Adam Bliznick came from Warren to kayak on the Argo Cascades.
"It's worth the trip to come out here," said Bliznick. Crowton said he was enjoying the workout.
A group from the Sunset Church of Christ in Taylor was also enjoy kayaking on the Cascades. "This is great," member Jesse Gilmer said. Her kayaking partner Antoinette Hill added, "It's really cool."
Wendy Ogilvie was visiting from Grand Rapids to get ideas to create a similar setup on the Grand River.
"I've been following the progress on Argo," said Ogilvie. "I like what they've done here. We have even bigger rapids on the Grand River and want to build something similar that allows canoes, kayaks and boats."
Canoes were not being rented at the Argo Livery for the Cascades, so James Blackburn of Saline brought his own.
"I've been here before and even though the water's a bit low, it's a normal flow," said Blackburn, who checked out the flow rate on a gauge mounted on the Broadway bridge as well as on a government website.
"They rate the river in cubic feet per second," said Blackburn. "The typical August flow rate is 150 cubic feet per second. In the springtime when the snow melts and the rains are heavier, it can go up to 2,000 cubic feet per second. That's when my friends and I love to make the Argo Cascades a destination."