Take a trek through the great outdoors.

Pick your own path through the 1,300 acres at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a nonprofit destination that promotes healthy, active lifestyles and environmentalism through free and purchasable activities. Home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, the USNWC hosts endless events including free River Jam concerts, Adventure Dining, the Whitewater Race Series and annual festivals. From the adrenaline rush of rock climbing to the relaxing vibe along the water features, there’s an option for everyone to spend their perfect day outdoors. Note: parking at USNWC is $6 per day or $50 for an annual parking pass. Mountain bikes rentals are included with all activity pass purchases.

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Time/Distance Estimates


Channel Loop

  • .8 miles
  • 15-min walk
  • 5-min bike ride
  • Easy intensity


Mountain bikes rentals are included with all activity pass purchases.


Outfitters, the 5,000 square-foot store at the main entrance

Before you hit the Channel Loop, take a peek inside Outfitters to stock up on anything you need for the day, including equipment and apparel, as well as quick snacks like protein bars. You can shop more than 40 outdoor brands, and items like sunglasses, jackets and water bottles. No activity pass is required.


The Channel Loop, the 0.8-mile loop around the whitewater channels

Take a quick lap around the Channel Loop to survey the land, see what other visitors are up to and pick out your preferred activity. Notice the Competition Channel, Hawk Island, Wilderness Channel and other features. No activity pass is required.


Go Climbing

Along the Channel Loop, you can test your strength with the intense Deep Water Solo Climb with five walls and a drop-off into a deep pool of water. Prefer something tamer? Choose from more than 35 top-rope routes that feature an anchor system and different levels of difficulty. There are also about 50 bouldering problems. An All Access Pass or Single Activity Pass is required.


River’s Edge, for a full-service restaurant meal

Fuel up for (or after) a day of excitement with starters, salads, sandwiches, main meals and fun menu items for kids, plus wine and beer. The patio overlooks the Channel Loop, so you can watch ziplines go by, see rafters get jostled on the rapids, observe the climbers and get inspired to make your next move. No activity pass is required.


Head to the Channel Loop trailhead access point to go biking, hiking or running

How far do you want to go? Another 0.4 miles? A whole 3 miles? Farther? Choose between two routes by the Lower Pond, for starters. Walk, bike or run along the 0.4-mile Jackrabbit Trail (lowest difficulty) or the 3-mile North Main Trail (more difficulty). Both loop you down by the Catawba River.
 No activity pass is required.


The Pump House Biergarten, for craft beer or snacks

Cross the bridge from the Channel Loop to Belmont Abbey Island to grab a refreshment and a picnic table in the shade. The craft beer list is long, with about 60 on tap. It’s accompanied by a smaller food menu if you’re feeling snackish. No activity pass is required.


Not ready to call it a day? Good. There are more than 50 miles of trail begging to be explored. Check out the additional trails to continue your adventure (hint: the longest is the East Main trail at 5.7 miles, and there are many connecting trail options). No activity pass is required.

Trail Complete