White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

Splish Splash: Whitewater Rafting … in Oklahoma City?

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Shortly after touching down in Oklahoma City, we bopped across the street for lunch at Pitchfork in the Park then made a beeline for our first activity of the trip: whitewater rafting.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it, too. But Oklahoma is so flat! There are no mountains in sight! Is there even a river? How on Earth do they have whitewater rafting? This would be the first of many things that surprised me about OKC in the coming days.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

Straddling the banks of the man-made, seven-mile Oklahoma River, the multipurpose Boathouse District was created from Oklahoma City’s innovative MAPS funding, which has transformed the relationship between public spaces, businesses and civic community across the area for several decades. The river was finalized in 2004, and the formerly dry, flood diversion channel has been turned into a championship training site for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic rowing, canoe and kayak teams.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

As a result, Oklahoma City is now one of the only places in the country where you can go urban whitewater rafting.

But you don’t have to be a pro to dig the activities offered here (I’m certainly not!). Visitors to the $45.2 million Riversport Adventures development can choose from two different whitewater experiences: rafting and kayaking. We chose rafting because, well, it seemed a little less scary!

Whitewater Rafting in Oklahoma City at Riversport Adventures

A hilarious Aussie guide took our group through the safety briefing, before we were handed over to our Ecuadorian boat captain; the team that Riversport employs is some of the best in their field anywhere, and even though I’ve only gone whitewater rafting a handful of times in my life, I felt completely confident with them guiding us through the process. We went down each of the two courses—the recreational and competition channels—and then the third and final lap was paddlers’ choice.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

But the complex is so much more than just rafting. After our hour of rafting was done, we decided to mosey on around beyond the 11 acres of whitewater adventure.

The Boathouse District as a whole was established in 2006 with the construction of Chesapeake Boathouse, a public-private partnership between Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the city. The $3.5 million building evokes oars and the bows of a grand rowing vessel while anchoring activities in the district with training facilities, dramatic viewing stands of the water, event spaces and boat bays for storage of equipment.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

Rand Elliott, who has revitalized many other locations around town like the flat-iron, 1924 Como Hotel on Harrison Avenue, was involved with creating the strikingly angular buildings making up the soul of the water park. From every angle, the crisp lines of white buildings seem to jut confidently into a blue sky, invoking motion and sailcloth.

The Boathouse District in Oklahoma City
The Boathouse District in Oklahoma City

The area is one popular with competitive rowers, kayakers, paddleboarders and really anyone who loves to get out on the water. But even if you aren’t proficient at any of the aforementioned sports, there are plenty of lessons, camps and workshops offered throughout the year in the Boathouse District, so you can get up to speed with your skills—or simply rent equipment to test out the waters, literally. Additionally, there are paved running and biking trails and even a pump track.

The Boathouse District in Oklahoma City

Next to these fascinating buildings comprising the Boathouse District, Riversport has what I like to think of as an adventure tower; its “Reach for the Sky” area consists of a sky trail, slides (both water and dry), a youth zone, a climbing wall, a bungee jump and even a zipline that goes from one side of the river to the other. Obviously, we had to try this. You know I’m not one to pass up on a zipline!

Ziplining in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

The process to get up there was very cool, too; after getting all harnessed up at the bottom of the tower, a Riversport employee clicks you into a self-guided trolley system, and you walk all the way to the top—note: a whole lot of stairs!—of this slightly menacing, rail-less tower before shooting across the Oklahoma River, then back again.

Ziplining in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

And best of all, other than the ziplining, which is an added fee, you can use all the rest of the facilities for a day pass of $49—that includes the whitewater rafting and all other land activities. If you just want land and flatwater activities, you can get the adventure pass for $39. If you’re local, you can also get a season pass for $99, which for comparison’s sake, is less than one day at Disney. I love that Riversport doesn’t try to upcharge everything, and I think that’s a very reasonably rate for as top-notch as their amenities are.

Ziplining in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

The day we were visiting, Riversport closed early for a private corporate event—I wish I worked for a company that shut down an adventure park like this one for employee amusement!—so imagine this scene absolutely teeming with rafters, rowers and kayakers. From what the locals tell me, that’s what it looks like on an average summer weekend, and I can’t wait to go back and try alllll the things next summer.

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures

White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
This post is part of a partnership with Visit OKC.

 

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White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
White Water Rafting in Oklahoma City | Riversport Adventures
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COMMENTS
  • September 22, 2017

    I really love how these “older” towns are being so creative with revitalizing under-served areas for the benefit of its citizens and promoting health, outdoors and physical fitness. They did a similar project in downtown Indianapolis converting old factory areas to a wonderful complex, I truly think it is the wave of the future and smart cities like OKC are at the top of the curve and drawing in a smarter, more conscious tourist.

    • October 16, 2017

      I love it, too, Andi! And that’s also why I’m really dying to get to Indy (well, that and the fact that your recent posts made it look so dreamy!).

  • September 23, 2017

    Wow! What an amazing adventure it is. I would really like to do this. In India, Rishikesh is the only place where we can have this adventure.

  • September 23, 2017

    I bet it was such a great experience <3

    Carmelatte

  • September 24, 2017

    That looks like a fun urban adventure park! I’ve never been rafting, and this river looks like a great place to ease into it!

    • October 16, 2017

      Really? I guess it’s not a big pastime in Europe, is it?

  • September 25, 2017

    Thank You so much for this blog! I have a lot enjoy to read this blog and Very Interesting and Clear Pictures on your Blog. Your Blog is seriously awesome.

  • September 25, 2017

    Thank you for all your hard work on your blog. I enjoy reading them. I hope to one day soon to travel to this place for a visit. Thank you for all the great ideas on the course of that dream….

  • September 25, 2017

    This is amazing! I had no idea a manmade river even existed, let alone urban whitewater rafting. You are making me seriously want to visit Oklahoma City with these posts. 😍

    • October 16, 2017

      Sounds like a future trip custom-made for Family Ferrier!

  • September 26, 2017

    Awesome river!!..I feel like wanna experience it and it looks so thrilling to watch. Your blog looks really great. Hoping to visit soon.

  • September 26, 2017
    Jon

    This is a amazing post. I am planning to visit Oklahoma City with these posts. thanks for sharing this post.

  • September 26, 2017

    ‘Looks really cool at Riversport!

    I wouldn’t go whitewater rafting in real waters as I don’t like the open sea, and it would be myself that would die, and tip over a vicious waterfall, or something!

    I love corporate events that do fun activities. Once we did paint-balling (In the UK, as it’s not the done thing in Germany. Memories of the War you see…) and all the Senior Managers (including myself) went Formula One driving which was so much fun. The winner was a young female manager, whilst the Head of Finance (male) was sick in his helmet!

    Good times!

    • October 16, 2017

      It’s official: You work for the coolest company ever! Is it Google? 😉

  • September 26, 2017

    That’s very neat! I ran a Spartan Race at a manmade white water site in North Carolina that was pretty impressive and Richmond is one of the only cities that has Class III an IV rapids within the city limits, courtesy the James River.

    • October 16, 2017

      Oh, girl, I’d love to do a Spartan Race with you sometime! That sounds amazing.

  • September 28, 2017

    What a cool and exciting experience! When I think of white water rafting I think of places like Colorado. I’d love to have this experience in a safe environment first before braving the wildness of CO !

    • October 16, 2017

      Exactly. In fact, Colorado was the first place I ever went rafting and Montana the second. Now, OKC makes three!

  • September 28, 2017

    Aah this looks incredible. It’s really interesting and exciting to have urban water sports other than water parks. I’ve done some white water rating in Ladakh and Goa in India which are about 2-3 level of Rapids. Would love to try this one.

    • October 16, 2017

      I didn’t even know there was whitewater rafting in India! India really does have everything, doesn’t it?

  • September 28, 2017
    Kristen

    This looks like such a fun time! I went rafting for the first time last year and it was such a blast. I need to go again!

    • October 16, 2017

      I loved this style of rafting as it wasn’t too big a commitment! An hour is about perfect for me 😉

  • September 28, 2017

    Wow. Oklahoma did a spectacular job creating this. This is my first time to see whitewater rafting in such an urban set-up. Looks like an amazing experience!

    • October 16, 2017

      It was mine, too, and I was blown away with how well done (and pretty!) it was.

  • September 28, 2017

    I knew about this! Turns out at the office we prepared several guides that help the recruiters to “sell” a destination. I prepared the one for OKC and included info about this place. While preparing the guide, the city surprised me. Made me realize how little I know about certain area in the US.

    • October 16, 2017

      What! That’s such a fun coincidence, Ruth. Tell them you need to go to experience it firsthand 😉

  • September 29, 2017

    Wow! This is crazy! Can’t believe Oklahoma is so adventurous. We don’t have anything similar around my area in Italy. Thank you for sharing!

    • October 16, 2017

      It really is. It has a very young vibe and a lot of college students and transplants; that demographic alone lends itself to adventure =)

  • October 3, 2017

    Love this article! White water rafting is so much fun, especially for families. Any suggestions for things in Oklahoma for a girls weekend getaway?

    • October 16, 2017

      A night out at the Jones Assembly and a weekend at the 21c Hotel, for sure! I didn’t check out any spas on this trip, but will put it on my agenda for next =)

  • October 3, 2017

    I’ve been rafting before but never through a constructed course in an urban setting. I didn’t even know this existed! Super neat!

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