“Five years in the making” — The Know

Parks planner Kelly Smith, left, and parks supervisor Dave Bothell, right, walk on a fishing platform along the Big Thompson River in Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, which will open to the public this fall for the first time since it was destroyed by the 2013 flood. They are pictured during a tour of the park on Monday, July 16.
Parks planner Kelly Smith, left, and parks supervisor Dave Bothell, right, walk on a fishing platform along the Big Thompson River in Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, which will open to the public this fall for the first time since it was destroyed by the 2013 flood. They are pictured during a tour of the park on Monday, July 16. (Pamela Johnson, Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Five years after the flood that devastated the Big Thompson Canyon, Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park will reopen to the public with a more natural feel and added resilience.

The popular haven in the Big Thompson Canyon is expected to open this fall when most of the reconstruction and rehabilitation is complete — a multi-phase project that cost nearly $5 million total.

It will feature two pedestrian bridges over the river, which is now on the south end of the property instead of through the middle, as well as a trail that loops around and connects the entire property.

New picnic shade structures dot the property, which is planted with native grasses and trees, and three historic buildings remain.

What was once designed as an urban, manicured park, an oasis in the natural surroundings of the canyon, now features a natural look and design that should withstand future floods.

Read the full story on reporterherald.com.

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