The U.S. National Whitewater Center or as we like to call it, Mecca for Outdoor Enthusiasts, is one of Charlotte’s most awe inspiring attractions. Simply put, it is the worlds largest man-made whitewater river. The USNWC is not a one trick pony. Although the whitewater is the headline, the center also offers a slew of other attractions and activities that are sure to excite the senses, and wear some tread off of those $300 hiking boots that have been sitting in your closet all winter.
Activities at the USNWC include whitewater rafting and kayaking, a canopy tour, zip-lines, ropes courses, climbing, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking and eco trekking. So how do you decide what to do when you get there? These are our suggestions.
Being that this is a man-made river, one might expect it to pale in comparison to an actual whitewater river. Do not be mistaken, this is the real deal. There are plenty of options for all skill levels. Rapids range from Class II, III and IV whitewater rapids. All raft trips include a professional guide that eats, sleeps and breathes rafting. In addition to being the Yoda of the raft world, our guide was hilarious and very personable. He gave us a short trip talk on the fundamentals of rafting and essential safety information and all the technical equipment needed.
Stand-up paddle boarding has become one of the fastest growing sports around, and a great way to enjoy our oceans, rivers and natural waterways, all while getting a great workout. Paddling along the Catawba River while taking in the natural elements would make for a great place to take a date, or a chance to get out on the open water on your own to clear your head. No experience is required. You can set off on your own or take a staff guided tour.
The Canyon Zip is your round trip ticket to explore the beautiful Piedmont from a birds eye veiw. Imagine being suspended above the canyon on a circuit of zip-lines with the first zip dangling you over the gorge and through the trees before landing you safely on the far side of the ridge. From there you transfer to one of the two return zip-lines, which traverse back across the gorge.
The Whitewater Centers climbing wall is one of the worlds largest and is great for any skill level. This 46 foot open air climbing wall offers more than 40 different roped climbs, and is made to look and feel like real granite. Climbing instruction is available to introduce you to climbing or enhance your skills in climbing, belaying, rappelling and bouldering.