CARSON CITY, Nev. – Carson City and Dayton officially became a Nevada whitewater destination Saturday when officials cut the ribbon to open the area's first rafting and kayaking facilities on a frisky stretch of the Carson River Aquatic Trail that runs through a scenic canyon with historic relics of Comstock gold mining.

A newly constructed launching ramp, paved parking, picnic tables and a restroom make it safer, simpler and more enjoyable to launch boats from the Morgan Mill Road River Access in Carson City for a 9.3-mile float on the Carson River through Class II and Class III whitewater downstream to Santa Maria Ranch River Park in Dayton, where similar new facilities create a user-friendly take-out area.

"These facilities establish Carson City as a whitewater rafting and kayaking destination and expand the quality of life and sense of well-being that outdoor adventure and natural beauty provide," Carson City Supervisor Shelly Aldean said. "Whether you go rafting or kayaking, just stroll along the river or come for a picnic, these beautiful new facilities make it much easier to enjoy one of Carson City's greatest natural assets."

The Morgan Mill put-in area is just upstream of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management offices at Deer Run and Morgan Mill roads, south of U.S. Highway 50 East. The take-out area at Santa Maria Ranch subdivision is accessible from U.S. Highway 50 on the west end of Dayton.

"Special put-in and take-out areas help protect, enhance and sustain the river's health and splendor and respect private property rights by providing boaters designated places to enter and leave the river," Lyon County Manager Dennis Stark said. "Improved areas to enter and leave the river make rafting and kayaking experiences much more desirable and create a new recreational attraction."

The 12.6-mile aquatic trail, designated in 2007, begins at Carson River Park with a placid 3.3-mile Class I stretch of river that takes a boater about 1.5 hours to float downstream to Morgan Mill Road and is suitable for beginners. The energetic 2.5-hour float from Morgan Mill to Dayton is for experienced boaters. Signs along the aquatic trail advise boaters of rapids and where to take out of the river.

Boaters through magnificent Carson River Canyon, where gold and silver mills once flourished, can see stone walls that Chinese laborers crafted more than a century ago to shore up mountain mining roads.

Carson City Parks and Recreation Department built the Morgan Mill facilities, and Lyon County Engineering Department, including its Parks Department, improved the Santa Maria Ranch area. Carson River Regional Recreation Steering Committee coordinated Saturday's event, which included a rafting excursion.