There isn’t very much whitewater around the Boundary Waters and if there is then there’s usually a portage nearby. Last week Mike was able to find as much whitewater as he wanted, it just wasn’t in the BWCA.
As President of the Professional Paddlesport Industry he traveled to North Carolina for a meeting held at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. He was quite impressed with the facility where the olympic kayakers train and thousands of people raft and kayak in the largest person made river. It’s the newest trend in paddlesports and it’s getting lots of people in boats who otherwise wouldn’t dare to kayak or raft.
There are 7 pumps, weighing 12,500 lbs each that move more than 536,000 gallons of water per minute. In under 20 seconds the pumps could fill an Olympic size pool. From the website.
People are flocking to the facility to experience the whitewater. Most of the paddlers are oriented in rafting through the course which takes from 5-10 minutes depending upon the path taken. Rafters are challenged by Class II-Class IV rapids and kayakers even have their own special area. Guides accompany groups while they paddle the river then ascend on a conveyor belt back to the top to do it over again and again. Most paddling sessions last 90 minutes to two hours and there’s more to do than just paddle.
The facility is a conference center that I would love to attend a conference at. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is located on the Catawba River with access to many nearby creeks to canoe or kayak on, but that’s not all. There’s a climbing center with a 30 foot wall and an open air 46 foot spire to climb and rapell from, there’s 11 miles of trails to hike, run or bike on, a Team Development Center with a ropes course and zip line and a restaurant, store and bar. This is one place I would be content to stick around during a conference.
If you’re ever in the Charlotte area then I would recommend visiting the U.S. National Whitewater Center. I know if I get close to it I’ll have a difficult time ever leaving. With the popularity of the Center there’s no doubt these places will be popping up in other places, so be ready to grab your lifevest and go paddling, even if it isn’t in a wilderness area, it’s still paddling.