5000 Whitewater Parkway
or 1825 Belmeade Drive
Free. But there is a $5 charge for parking. Other activities vary.
Home of the world's largest man-made recirculating river, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a non-profit outdoor recreation facility situated on the outskirts of Charlotte. Since its opening in 2006, it's quickly become one of the premier rafting training facilities in the country. The center regularly holds training and trials for Olympic competition, many athletes even relocate to the Charlotte area to be near the center. But don't think that just because you're not headed to the Olympics that you can't enjoy the water. The center offers guided raft tours for the rest of us.
The facility has five different water sport options - both whitewater and flat water - including kayaking to rafting to canoeing, and a dozen different land sports - including climbing walls, biking and hiking trails, zip lines, and a new canopy tour. As a part of the canopy tour, visitors are guided through the treetops and along the banks of the Catawba River, traveling 60 feet in the air from platform to platform on a series of zips, sky bridges, rappels and other high adventure challenges. For an added edge, reserve the "Twilight Tour" and take it all in complete darkness.
Whitewater rafting, is of course, the highlight of the facility.The facility has class II, III and IV rapids, which range from "moderate difficulty with passages clear" to rapids that "demand an expert boatman and excellent boat and good quality equipment."
If your kids are the "adventurous" type, the center also offers numerous summer day camps. It's not all fun and games, though - you can get some education here. Courses in survival and rescue are held regularly, as well as other training, instruction, and certification programs.
Even if you're not actively involved in sports, you can still enjoy the Whitewater Center. There's a restaurant on site with great views of the river and surrounding are, and there's nothing like taking in a sunset over the water as you watch rafts pass by. There's even the Whitewater River Jam Concert Series, which adds live music to the mix. The center also has a spectacular fireworks show for the Fourth of July and other holidays.
Whitewater Rafting (Family, Adventure and Rodeo)
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Climb 2 Zip
The Trail System