Have you ever gone white water rafting? I have…twice! The first time was in 2006 on the Colorado River, and the second time was in Montana, on the Flathead River, in 2010. Both times were when we were on Adventures By Disney tours. The trip on the Colorado River was incredible, with Class I and II rapids and I think one “almost a III” (rapids are labeled from Class I to Class V, depending on difficulty). The experience in Montana was during dry season and the rapids weren’t as strong, but let me tell you, it was still a whole lot of fun! Here’s some recently found video of the last rapid of the day during that Flathead River trip:
You’d think that part of the ability to go white water rafting would be going to where the rivers with the white water rapids were. But nope! If you’re just in it for the excitement of the rapids, there are several man made rapids in places where rivers can’t be found for miles. Here are some of them, in no particular order:
U.S. National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC
The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, featuring class II-IV rapids throughout multiple channels. Guests can select between the Adventure Rafting and Family Rafting experience. Adventure Rafting, their most popular activity, is designed for those looking to get the most excitement from their world-class rapids, while Family Rafting provides a more relaxed whitewater experience. Rodeo Rafting is also available for more experienced rafters.
RIVERSPORT Adventures, Oklahoma City, OK
Experience Class II-IV whitewater rafting in the heart of Oklahoma City at RIVERSPORT Rapids, Oklahoma City’s $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center. Your adventure starts when you meet your raft guide for the “trip talk.” You’ll learn what to expect on the water and how to paddle your raft, plus safety information to ensure you have a great experience. Your guide will help you properly fit your helmet and PFD, then it’s off to the raft for your adventure. A conveyor belt will take you to the top of the rapids where your guide will take you on an exciting, authentic whitewater rafting experience!
You’ll have the opportunity to do several runs on the rapids as you experience this “bucket list” adventure. Be sure to smile! They’re taking photos which you can purchase after your raft trip in the whitewater center.
Adventure Sports Center International, McHenry, MD
Test your timing, reflexes and teamwork on the world’s only adjustable whitewater sports venue that offers class I – IV whitewater in a “controlled” environment. The 1/3 mile artificial river features authentic whitewater rapids, and is the most natural looking and feeling course of its kind in the world. Large boulders, excavated onsite, frame the course and shape the rapids — this is not a theme park ride, but we are confident that Walt Disney would have been envious. ASCI’s raft “conveyor” conveniently transports you from the finish pond to the start pool, eliminating the traditional shuttle of natural river rafting experiences. A great way to try whitewater rafting, anyone 50 lbs or more can have an amazing adventure. Expert guides and instructors on staff ensure high quality, inspiring and consistent teaching methods.
Whitewater Express, Decatur, GA
Located in the heart of downtown Columbus is the recently completed Chattahoochee Whitewater Park. This course offers over 5 class III rapids during the low water release (8am to 4pm) and after 4 these rapids become class IV +, when the water level increases up to 13,000 cubic feet per second.
Lee Valley, Waltham Cross, Herfordshire, England
There are several top white water centers in the UK. The most famous is probably Lee Valley the £31m venue that was built for the 2012 Olympics. Sitting just outside London in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire this center offers a 300m course with plenty of cool features and a giant deck area to chill out on after a hard day’s rafting.
There are literally dozens of artificial whitewater courses around the world, many of which offer rafting as an option. If you’ve never gone white water rafting before, consider giving it a shot. And if you have gone before, well, you know what you’re missing by not going ASAP!
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