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Old 11-01-2006   #1
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316
My expereince at USNWC

My experience at the US National Whitewater Center

So I think that most of us have been interested in this place ever since we first heard about it. I called a friend of mine from Charlotte to see if he knew anything about it and come to find out the place is less than 10 minutes from his house. So what the heck, I bought some plane tickets and headed out to Charlotte.

At first I was a little put off my spending $15 for and our and a half of paddling. But the trick is to buy a day pass for $25. This pretty much gave me the freedom to paddle almost the whole day. And when you consider the cost relative to the cost of a lift ticket it is actually a pretty amazing deal. Its just hard for us to get used to.

After checking in and getting my bib I walked over to the put in. By the way the people that work there are super cool. You know how it is when you go into a paddling shop or something like that and you get the feeling that you are not welcome there. Its like the employees are there just to get the pro deal and that is it. More often the employees took initiative to talk to me and to make sure that I was taken care of. I never got the feeling that I was being sized up to see if I was better than them or anything like that. Anyway I walked over to the put in and set my boat down. You look up and almost dead ahead are the 7 pumps 6 of them running. They are quiet but powerful. I slid my boat down the ramp and sat on it. I reached down and felt the amazingly warm water. This was a welcome feeling considering it was mid October.

I chose the Wilderness channel first. It felt a lot like Golden to be honest, several small drops with small surfable holes at the bottom. My favorite feature in the upper part of this channel was a small pulsing wave. It allowed for low angle blunts and spins.

After working through the upper section of this channel the river takes a hard right and current speeds up. This is where their version of the M wave is. I have never been on the real M wave so I have no idea if it does any justice to the real thing. However this is by far the coolest feature in the whole park. Its fast. Feels kind of like setting your boat between two railroad tracks and having a locomotive push you. (I watched a video of Mike Harvey and he makes it look much more tame than it is) I watched a poor fellow window shade in it and come up with half a paddle. The eddys there are easy to catch and stay in but crazy none the less. The surfers right eddy has pulsing wave that faces downstream. So its no place to just relax.

I paddled down the rest of the channel and then over to the conveyor belt. You hop on, wiggle your toes to get the blood flowing again, wiggle your hips around to settle back into your boat and get ready for another lap. Having the belt there was so cool because I knew that if I blew and eddy I could just paddle down and hop back on.

I headed over to the competition channel for my next run. Talk about a blast. The run is fast and big. The eddy lines were crazy. In a project 45 I was definitely on my toes the whole way through. I was not there when they had the competition play hole. Someone said it was broken. Not much play here so I moved back over to the M wave.

All in all the experience was kind of surreal. Manicured rapids and conveyor belts, a river side restaurant that served beer and wine, the whole deal is crazy. I sent an email to the center thanking them for such a cool experience. In it one of the employees said that they were going to continue to work on the rapids and tune them up so that more of the features will be playable (this was one of my criticisms) and that they plan to offer boat demos for traveling people (my other criticism.) With direct roundtrip tickets from Denver priced out at around $220 (United) I plan to head back as soon as I can.


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Old 11-01-2006   #2
COUNT's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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Sounds pretty awesome!


"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 11-02-2006   #3
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Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 805
I am psyched you had fun and glad you had a positive experience with the staff. Their staff is really cool and the manager types are genuinely into whitewater paddling and introducing people to their materialized dream.

The M Wave is a name that is sticking but in reality the wave is not really a hydraulic copy of The M Wave (plus no one in North Carolina knows what the M Wave is). We just used the shape of the channel, slope, etc. as a template for that spot.
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Old 11-02-2006   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Very cool. I have been thinking about doing just that. Flying out and getting a couple of day passes. Did you buy the pass online before you left? Did you fly with your boat or use your buddies?

Mike, it seems that most people know what the m-wave is by now even if they havent been there.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 11-05-2006   #5
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316

Give them a call and tell them when you plan to come out. At that point you will know if you need to go ahead and make a "reservation". They have a week long pass that costs $65. This is the way to go if you are going to paddle more than two days.

I took my boat out with me because at that point they could not rent boats due to liability issues. Now they are offering "demo" boats which gives them some way of avoiding liability. You could call them as well and more than likely make a reservation for the boat. (They had a ton of boats in about every shape you could want when I was there.) This is the best way to go even if you dont get the exact boat you want simply because the cost of bringing your own boat. $160 with USAir, $360 with United. Plus you will have to rent a car that would allow you to transport the boat which costs way more than an economy car.

Also if you are into this they are building a pretty cool looking climbing area. The bouldering looks pretty amazing. I would have loved to have climbed and then went boating.

Finally if you have some of those cool creeking elbow pads go ahead and bring those too. Not sure how tucked up you get on you roll. I popped my elbow and it still hurts.

Have fun,

Ben Rodda

PS... Hey mike when are we going to have a franchise co-op thingy and move one out here to the front range?
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Old 11-05-2006   #6
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Sounds great. I am getting old and cant do two intense upper body workouts on the same day so climbing will have to wait. I had heard that Southwest had $50 each way for boats. Was the water warm?
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 11-05-2006   #7
Eagle, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I was there last month and talked to them about the m-wave feature. apparently, if they shut down everything else and open up all the gates, it becomes and exact replect of the original m-wave! i was there on 2 different days and it was two completely different features! one day, it was a small, fast standing wave. the second day, it has a big (you could disappear in it) foam pile - was sticky enough you had to Work your way out of it...

maybe we can get a covered, heated park built our here for year-round warm water boating?! anybody have a few million to spare?
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Old 11-05-2006   #8
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316

Sorry man but southwest does not fly into charlotte and I called a baggage specialist a while back and they do not technically allow boats per the phone line. But then again neither did USair but I was able to go with them and it was 160. still way more expensive than a demo i would imagine. what kind of boat do you have?

When I was there the air was at about 66. A couple of days it was raining. . Between the air and the water my watch said it was about 56. Not bad I would say. I wore a dry top and a sweater and got hot.
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Old 11-05-2006   #9
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
sounds great, current playboat is a kingpin
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 11-07-2006   #10
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 49
That's pretty cool that they named a feature after the M-wave. Are we still keeping the M-wave a secret?

I doubt it is like the real thing. They only have 21 feet of elevation drop at the USNWC.

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