Earlier this summer, the town of Montgomery, Alabama, unveiled a new addition to its downtown area: a whitewater park. The $ 50 million project, slated for completion by summer 2023, will be located on a 120-acre parcel along the banks of the Alabama River, with a recirculating wave park suitable for kayakers and paddleboarders. .
This is just one of the many new whitewater parks appearing in the United States. A destination is also under construction in Great Falls, South Carolina, on the Catawba River, as an extension of the White water center. It should open by 2023. New England becomes its first locationThe 13-acre Mill City Park will open in September in the former mill town of Franklin, New Hampshire, with a bike pumping trail, climbing walls, and whitewater features.
“Whitewater parks have revolutionized the sport by bringing the best of remote mountain kayaking to the center of town,” said Scott Shipley, former World Cup kayaking slalom champion and three-time Olympian who now races. S2O design, a whitewater design and engineering company based in Lyon, Colorado. Shipley estimates that there are more than 70 whitewater parks in the United States, with a dozen more currently underway.
Here’s why that’s good news: If you want to try it out, it’s just gotten a lot easier. Until the advent of these man-made training grounds, which appeared in the mid-1990s and used engineering to make surf waves and other river-like features, whitewater kayaking was a reserved sport. remote and risk tolerant people. Now, residents of Boise, Oklahoma City can paddle a downtown river and learn to kayak with the help of a qualified instructor or guide.
“Destination lessons can help you learn from the best,” Shipley says. Here are some spots to get you started this summer.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Bryson City, North Carolina
Take a kayaking lesson, sign up for a whitewater rescue course, or paddle a raft at the Nantahala Outdoor CenterThe 500-acre campus along the Nantahala River, on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains. On-site accommodation (starting at $ 80) includes cabins, rooms at the newly renovated Dogwood Motel, and private inn-style dorms alongside Appalachian Trail hikers.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I bet you didn’t know downtown Oklahoma City had Class IV rapids. Yes, the recirculating whitewater park Riversport Rapids has gentle to rowdy wave trains suitable for a wide range of experience levels. If you’re just getting started, sign up for a kayaking roll lesson or private or group kayaking lessons. You’ll also find raft adventures for the whole family (for kids ages eight and up). There is no accommodation on site, but the park is associated with several local hotels (ask for the “boathouse rate”).
Boise Whitewater Park
The River Boise runs through downtown and the Boise Whitewater Park has become a playground for surfers, stand-up paddles and kayakers playing on an adjustable wave. The park, which is managed by the Boise Parks and Recreation Department, opened in 2012 on a previously neglected section of river that was littered with industrial debris. The features of the park have been updated and extended since then.
Charles City Whitewater
Charles City, Iowa
Known as one of the best river surfing waves in the Midwest, Charles City Whitewater First opened in 2011 on a quarter-mile section of the Cedar River through Charles City’s Riverfront Park. It has three beginner-friendly wave trains that serve as the site for an annual surf kayak competition. Pitch a tent near the river at R Campground (from $ 20), from which you can rent a canoe (from $ 18).
Bend Whitewater Park
Tubers, kayakers and surfers flock to the Bend Whitewater Park on a section of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill neighborhood of Bend for surf waves and good times. Three separate channels on the river provide an option for everyone: the fish ladder has gentle waves for tubers and children, the whitewater channel is suitable for experienced paddlers with four separate waves, and the l The habitat is intended for migratory fauna and is closed to the rest. from U.S. This section of the river was previously impassable for paddlers and fish due to an underwater dam structure that was removed when the area was redeveloped into a park in 2015.
Rio Vista Park
San Marcos, Texas
Don’t have paddle equipment? Its good. You can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and tubes nearby to float or paddle the San Marcos River through the rapids of Rio Vista Park, about half an hour south of Austin. This spring-fed river stays stable and comfortable at 70 degrees all year round, making this place popular even during the winter months and at night when the lights are shining on the park. In 2006, the city of San Marcos transformed this dam into a whitewater park with three main rapids. Olympic paddler Ben Kvanli teaches clinics and river circuits here, and the local Lions Club rents tubes and manages a shuttle for the river.
Buena Vista Whitewater Park
Buena Vista, Colorado
The Arkansas River is a legendary kayaking and rafting destination about three hours from Denver. the Buena Vista Whitewater Park, one of Colorado’s largest whitewater parks, with five waves, lets you test your skills before jumping into the Class III and IV natural rapids elsewhere on the river, like Numbers or Browns Canyon . Stay at Surf hotel (from $ 245), which is part of the vision of professional kayaker turned entrepreneur Jed Selby Principal South District.
Truckee River Whitewater Park
Amidst the sparkling casinos of downtown Reno, you’ll find a calming riverside paradise known as the Truckee River Whitewater Park. This half-mile stretch of the Truckee River has been transformed into a series of Class II and III rapids, perfectly surfable even for new kayakers. Sierra Adventures leads tours and offers instruction. Proximity Whitney Peak Hotel (starting at $ 284) has an indoor bouldering room and a 164-foot outdoor climbing wall on the side of the hotel.