In May 2021, Ada County Parks and Waterways began construction to improve Barker Park. They added a new boat ramp, enhanced the walkways, added more grassy areas, and made significant upgrades to the parking lot. The county finished most of these before last year's float season. One change they made still confuses residents and floaters and sometimes upsets them.

Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps
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Back in the day, you could bring your deflated raft to Barber Park before floating the river. It was convenient because you needed the extra room in your car for the third or fourth person who would float with you. Once you got to the park, you could use the air stations to inflate your raft, and off you'd go. You may have to wait for one of the air stations to open up, but you aren't on a schedule, so it wasn't a big deal. In 2020, Ada County turned those air stations off to run the park more efficiently. More people were floating on the river, and the park was understaffed. Many thought this was a temporary, COVID-related change. Without the air stations, there were no lines, and while there were many complaints, there wasn't a pileup of people standing on the beach waiting for air for close to an hour. That's why the air stations were removed entirely during the latest renovations to Barber Park. If you thought these air pumps were coming back, you are about to be disappointed. They aren't.

Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps
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If you're planning to float the river this season, bring waterproof sunscreen, sunglasses, drinks, and your floating device that is already inflated. Otherwise, you may be driving to buy your own air compressor. If you get to the park and forget your air pump, Fred Meyer on Federal or Albertsons on Parkcenter are your closest options.

Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps
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Having your own air compressor is even better because you can ensure your raft is completely inflated when you arrive. You can even help the people who didn't realize they wouldn't be able to use the park's air stations.

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