If you’re gonna drive 4 hours you better get your money’s worth. With the price of admission ($25 for a one-day pass) to the National Whitewater Center that’s a pretty good bet.

In part that’s because the half-mile long man-made concrete whitewater course, the longest manmade whitewater river in the world, doesn’t disappoint. It’s a constant flow of Class I-III water you can run all day without a break. (Or you could, to grab a burger at the onsite River’s Edge Bar & Grill.) A wide range of instruction is available as well; stay two days and hone your skills. Plus, you needn’t worry about local rainfall ruining your stay; this 12,000-gallon, well-fed river runs continuously. (Or at least during daily hours of operation.)

Pay a little more and you can sprinkle some other adventure into your visit, from climbing (there’s a 46-foot climbing wall) to canopy tours to mountain biking. This is an adventure destination where you won’t have to worry about driving hither and yon to fulfill your various wants.

After all, you’ve already driven more than 200 miles to get here.

More info: National Whitewater Center, usnwc.org, 704.391.3900

Getting there from downtown Wilmington


Rating: Class II-IV
Length: Continuous (the course is a loop, served by an escalator that brings your boat back to the top of the course)
Drive: 3 hours 45 minutes from downtown
Put-in: NWC Paddle Center
Latitude: 35.1651
Longitude: 81.0026
Take-out: Same
Latitude: 35.1651
Longitude: 81.0026
Time to complete: 2-3 hours?
Gauge: always running during operating hours.
Minimum flow: pretty much the same, all the time
City: Charlotte