Things to Do

Forget the Cold: The Elitch Gardens Water Park Opens This Weekend.

Let water park season begin.
Let water park season begin. Elitch Gardens
A few days ago, Denverites were digging out their winter coats, gloves and hats and then shoveling the sidewalks, scraping the car windows and covering up the garden beds, praying that whatever they'd planted after Mother's Day hadn't shriveled up and died.

Now Memorial Day weekend is here — a holiday for hiking (good luck slogging through the muck the snows left behind), biking and, for those who prefer the urban outdoors, hitting amusement parks. Forecasts predict warmer weather than we've seen most of this week — not season lows, at least. Most of the snow has melted, and the sun will be out.

So in true Colorado fashion, many bold souls will break out their bathing suits and flip-flops and head to Elitch Gardens Island King Water Park to celebrate its first weekend of the season — if the weather gods permit. Others will trek to Water World, which turns forty this year and opened earlier in May. (The rest of Elitch Gardens opened in April.)

Both parks are decadent. There's nothing quite so glorious — or optimistic (perhaps even foolhardy) — as splashing around in the high plains desert where the city, growing at a terrifying pace, faces a looming water crisis. But drought's a couple of decades away; we might as well splash while we can.


There's plenty of fun to be had at both Water World and Elitch's, the latter just recognized by Thrillist as one of the eight best water parks in the United States that are fun for adults, too. Neither water park is offering much new this year. Elitch's pride is in its amusement park, where it revamped Ghost Blasters 2, renaming it Kaleidoscape, a psychedelic dark-ride art installation co-produced with Meow Wolf.

With low-cost season passes (currently $69.95) that pay for themselves in just two visits to the park and include all of the rides, Elitch's has become a meeting ground for thrill seekers and families alike. Elitch's is also facing possible demolition and relocation in the next few years, as the city eyes developing the River Mile into another kind of playground. So take a dip and a zip down the slides while you still can.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris