All the Info You Need to Start Playing the LA River


Come one, come all for 51 miles & 51 weeks of play on the mighty LA River! Explore, enjoy, reclaim & reimagine the river as a grand civic space that can green & connect our communities. Play the LA River is led by Project 51—a collective of riverly artists, designers, planners, writers & educators

What Is This?

The Quik-Guide is your one-stop shop for getting up to speed on the who, what, where, when, why & how of Play the LA River!

Download A PDF of the Quik-Guide

What Is Play the LA River?

A call across the land—to play on the banks of the LA River, & to call others to do the same. Yes, the LA River! Any time, anywhere.

A card deck—so you can find the LA River!—which historically, we know, has often been very hard to do. The playable card deck doubles as a guide to 56 sites—52 glorious sites on the river & 4 fantastic wild-card sites off the river.

Order, download or pick up a card deck.

Where Can I Play the LA river?

Along all 51 miles, from Headwaters to Mouth. The card deck will show you all of it, in 4 suits—Valley, Glendale Narrows, Downtown & South.

Some sites have shiny new green parks. Some… Well, not so much—not yet—but you might find a mural, a cool view, a great nearby taqueria, an old suspension bridge, a horse crossing, or an unexpected flock of water birds. The cards take you to the River, over the River—& even into the River in the 2 summer recreation zones.

How Do I Play the LA River?

Choose one of the 56 sites in the card deck. Go there. Play there. Have some fun there. Got pix, videos, songs, a river sonnet or dance moves? Share it on social media using #playthelariver.

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“We’re playing the LA River!” Imagine jillions of these posts & pix flying around the web.

Salsa. Picnic. Chess. Paint. Soccer. Sey. Act. Puzzle. Kayak. Nardi. Poker. Bike. Sculpt. Forage. Yoga. Bird. Sing. Tell ghost stories. Run. Hula hoop. Juggle. Bocce ball. Hip hop. Solitaire. Scavenger hunt. Skip. Tai Chi. Charades. Fish. A cappella. Debate. Stroll.

How do you want to play?

Who Can Play the LA River?

YOU! Your friends, family, soul mates, blind dates. Your teammates & classmates. Your arts group, NGO, neighbors, coven or flash mob.

Play solo. Go with people you know. Or play with strangers—the nice ones, anyway: find or post an event on the river calendar.

Why Play the LA River?

Why not?!

And because the huge, gazillion-dollar public projects to turn the concrete River into a 51-mile greenbelt through the heart of the LA area are happening right now. Revitalizing the river will clean our waters & maximize our water supplies. It’ll connect our communities & it’ll bring parks & public spaces to many of LA’s most challenged & parkstarved neighborhoods.

And because you should be able to find & enjoy what’s been built so far.

And because you should have a say in the future—especially if you live near the river. What, where, how fast & for whom. They’re all up for grabs.

And because this huge vision for new parks, wetlands, bikeways & public spaces will transform the LA area—& everyone (not just developers & the planners we love) should know what’s going on & have the chance to speak up.

So go, find, explore enjoy—& claim & reimagine the river & LA as our public treasure & our megalopolis.

When Can I Play the LA River?

Anytime. Wake up some friends this Saturday and go—or plan something a week or a month ahead. Play at a few sites. Try a new site every other weekend. Binge for a couple weeks & try 27. Binge on Netflix, but do it on the LA River.

Check the calendar for riverly events, including occasional Project 51 happenings.

Play Safely, Play Legally

Use caution & common sense. Check the 3-point “gritty-to-green” scale on the cards to gauge how official & inviting (or not!) a site is likely to be. Play in your comfort zone. Carry in, carry out. As a general rule, you’ll want to play during the day, as most of the 56 sites are not lit or patrolled.  Play next to the river, & obey posted signs. You can only 100% legally enter the river—including the channel & sloped embankments—in the 2 summer LA River Recreation Zones (check out the Valley 6 & Glendale Narrows 8, 10, J & K cards for sites in the rec zones, & visit the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) website for more info). icon_summer_rec_zone_circleThe summer rec zone is indicated on the above-mentioned cards in the Play the LA River card deck river guide with this pattern shown over the river channel.

Stay out of the river during & for at least 24 hours after a rain—& whenever the rec zones are closed. ALWAYS, ABSOLUTELY, NO EXCEPTIONS. FLASH FLOODS ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. 

Do you need a permit?

Possibly, but only if you plan to do big events. Contact playthelariver@gmail.com if you’re not sure whether or where to get one, & we’ll help you find the appropriate official people.

A Round of Applause!

Play the LA River contributes to ongoing efforts to revitalize the river & bring Angelenos to its banks. It wouldn’t be possible without our amazing community of sponsors & partners.