L.A. River to reopen for another summer of recreation

L.A. River, kayaking

Kayakers shown last year preparing to launch into the river in  Elysian Valley/Martha Benedict

By Nathan Solis

ELYSIAN VALLEY — A stretch of the Los Angeles River will once again be open for fishing, kayaking, hiking and other recreational pursuits starting Memorial Day, Monday, May 26. For the second year in a row,  the public will be able to access the river at specific areas in Elysian Valley, where they can launch their non-motorized boats (sorry no inner tubes) or watch the local wildlife.

The summer program, which ends on Labor Day, makes the river accessible for about three months to the public during daylight hours, with rangers from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority on hand to provide safety measures. Guided kayak tours are available throughout the summer for those inexperienced in traveling the river.

Last year’s L.A. River Recreation Zone offered some of these activities for the first time, with at least 3,000 people paddling the river over the summer. Kayakers may launch their boats in either Elysian Valley or in the Sepulveda Basin, though those adventurers are on their own when it comes to walking the actual boat to the river, down the riverbed and into and out of the water.

Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the actual river, though dog walkers are encouraged to trot the paths alongside the channel with their canines. Various parking spots can be found throughout Northeast L.A. A permit is needed for fishing. Sunblock is recommended and other activities are offered by Marsh Park in Elysian Valley.

L.A. River, kayaking

Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone | Map from L.A. River Recreation Zone

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.


  1. Just a quick editorial note that you have Monday, May 26, identified as “Labor Day,” but it is in fact Memorial Day. You correctly label the end of the program in the subsequent paragraph as taking place on Labor Day. Otherwise, thanks for sharing this info!

  2. Thanks for covering this. I run LA River Kayaks and we are partnered with the MRCA to provide rental and optional guide services. Looking forward to a great summer!

  3. what a scam, charging people to use a river that is public property, a “strenuous 2.5 mile trip” HA HA , that is not even the best part of the river , I put my own kayak in at sepulveda dam and floated all the way to long beach, for free… and i brought beer too.
    pay up hipsters, see you on the river

    • Uhh…. it’s free to single users, only big organized groups have to pay. And what do “hipsters” have to do with this? Misguided hate much?

    • Can you really go from the Sepulveda Dam all the way to Long Beach on a kayak?

      • David McGovern

        No. You can really only go from Rattlesnake Park to Egret Park. It’s about a 3 mile kayak row. But maybe one day in our lifetime, we’ll be able to do Sepulveda to the Harbor. That would be incredible!

    • David McGovern

      Sepulveda to the Harbor?

      Interesting, especially considering that is (1) illegal, and (2) impossible, due to several mile stretches of dry river through the SF Valley and South LA.

  4. Isn’t the LA River the channel for all the slew, grime, dirt, debris and trash the people throw in the streets and run off from? Sure I want to Kayak in a river of garbage and walk along the water that smells like a toilet.

  5. Well this section of the LA river I guess is not full of trash and grime from the city just yet. I have heard this is a fun thing to do over the weekend. I have yet to do this activity, I will have to get out there and try it out before I can say anything. The one fact it that I am from the Midwest and I am used to rafting or kayaking down a real river and not a man made one.

    I do look forward in trying this out in the near future. Thanks for the article on this.

  6. @Nathan…….the LA river is a real river.. However, it used to overflow its banks and meander thru the SF Valley. So they made it into a channel. Of course, the Army Corp of Engineers tends value engineer their projects and went overboard.

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