U.S. National Whitewater Center

U.S. National Whitewater Center

The mission of the non-profit U.S. National Whitewater Center is to build stronger communities by:

  • Promoting healthy and active lifestyles
  • Developing environmental stewardship
  • Encouraging family and civic interaction

The National Whitewater Center has a unique way of doing that.  It is located on 1,100 acres near Charlotte, North Carolina adjacent to the Catawba River and it offers an array of outdoor activities including:

  • whitewater rafting and kayaking
  • flatwater kayaking
  • geocaching
  • mountain biking
  • hiking
  • zip lines
  • rock climbing
  • stand up paddle boarding
  • rope courses and
  • a canopy tour

That particular set of activities is fairly unique by itself, but what sets the center apart is that it has the largest man-made whitewater river in the world.  That river contains 12 million gallons of water.  To insure that it is clean and safe the water is continually treated with ultraviolet light and filtered, so the entire volume is treated over a 24 hour period.  In addition,  the center adds chlorine to the system periodically.  The water is tested weekly.  The result is very clean water.


Course Map

Click for a Larger View

If you want to try kayaking the whitewater course, you must either:

  1. be experienced in kayaking Class III whitewater and bring all of your own equipment or
  2. take one of the training opportunities offered by the center that includes all the equipment you need.

The recommended training includes a session on fundamental skills and self-rescue, a session on how to roll a kayak and three kayak lessons for a total of $300.  The course is not something you might find at your local water slide – it is serious business and an official Olympic Training Center for whitewater slalom racing.

If you’d rather skip the whitewater thrill, the center also offers flatwater kayaking on the Catawba River.  No experience is required and all gear comes with your paid pass.

Whitewater Rafting

U.S. National Whitewater Center Channels

Photo By U.S. National Whitewater Center [CC BY-SA 3.0]

If you don’t have the skills for kayaking and still want to experience the whitewater, the center offers guided raft trips around the course.  A family adventure includes class II and III rapids.  For a more exciting ride, try the Adventure tour. It adds Class IV rapids, but be prepared to take a surprise swim!

If you are an experienced whitewater rafter,  you might try rodeo rafting.  Participants need to be able to handle up to Class IV whitewater with drops, waves and tight technical turns.

Dry Adventures

If you’s rather stay dry,  the center offers other options.

For climbers they have a 46 foot tall spire that offers lead climbing possibilities as well as some bouldering problems.  The also have a climbing wall offering 30 foot roped climbs.  The wall and spire are both constructed to feel like granite.

If you like to climb, but prefer ropes to rocks, the center offers an array of course that combine rope bridges, plank bridges, cargo nets and tree platforms getting you fifty feet into the air.  If zip lines get your adrenaline going,  the center offers a 200 foot line and a 1,200 for line.  They are rigged so you can zip down one line and return on another.

For those that like to keep on the ground, the center offers 20 miles of trails through the forest and along the river.  The trails are shared by hikers, runners and mountain bikes.



If you happen to be in North Carolina,  the U.S. National Whitewater Center offers a great range of exciting adventures.  Be sure to check out the center’s website and plan your trip so you can fit in the activities you wish.

Please Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

Pin It on Pinterest