The U.S. National Whitewater Center sits alongside the Catawba River and is home to the world’s largest man-made recirculating river, providing exciting rafting and kayaking adventures on Class II, III and IV whitewater rapids. Upon arrival, guests choose from different trip levels with the purchase of an AllSport Pass.

Family Rafting is the ideal raft trip for a group that has never experienced whitewater rafting. Adventure Rafting, the center’s most popular option, represents the mid-level of its rafting trips. Rodeo Rafting, an upgrade from the AllSport Pass, is the most extreme of the trips as it challenges guests to raft down the most aggressive lines in a lighter raft. All raft trips include a professional guide, a short trip talk on the fundamentals of rafting and essential safety information, and all the technical equipment needed.

The multiple-channel whitewater river is perfect for kayakers as well, as the center has the ability to control the consistent quality of the rapids and a limited amount of flatwater. Kayakers with their own gear can paddle the man-made river for nine months of the year. Instruction courses are available for those interested in learning the sport.

Aside from the trail and whitewater activities available, USNWC’s 400-acre facility offers various other activities that allow guests to enjoy the outdoors. The USNWC’s location along the Catawba River gives guests an opportunity to experience flatwater activities that include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing. USNWC’s many land activities include a climbing center, zip-lines, high ropes courses and a Canopy Tour. A three- to four-hour guided experience, the Canopy Tour is a unique way for guests to travel through the trees while learning the history of the Catawba River and the Tuckaseegee Ford and Trail.

Throughout the year, the USNWC hosts more than 50 events, including races, festivals and concerts. From mountain-biking races to triathlons, a food-truck festival to holiday celebrations, the USNWC invites guests to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Kayakers with their own gear have access the USNWC’s man-made river for nine months of the year. If you’re looking for a more laid-back kayaking experience, North Carolina offers an abundance of creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds and coastal areas where you can kayak on your own. Before setting out on your own you’ll need some sound advice from the pros. Stop by your local Great Outdoor Provision Co. and talk to their knowledgeable staff or check out their online resource for places to paddle at

There’s a wide variety of gear choices. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

Jackson Fun Runner Kayak & Werner Desperado Paddle



The Fun Runner kayak and Werner Desperado are a great combo for beginners looking to get into some whitewater action.

P&H Delphin & Aquabound Stingray Paddle



Looking to explore North Carolina’s amazing coastal regions? We recommend the P & H Delphin kayak along with the Aquabound Stingray paddle.

Hurricane Santee & Manta Ray Paddle



If you want a bit more versatility, the Hurricane Santee is a great river/hybrid choice for recreational paddling. We also like the Manta Ray paddle.