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& Other Nearby Adventures

One of the many things I love about Charlotte's U.S. National Whitewater Center is that it provides a great "taste" of whitewater and other diversions in this adventure-rich region. With so many other mild to wild rivers and outfitters within easy driving distance of the Charlotte area, the USNWC is sure to seriously whet some appetites for further river explorations and more.

Along with other options nearby in North Carolina, an array of companies offer paddling possibilities in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia. A multi-location company appropriately called Wildwater specializes in adventures on and off rivers in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. Adventures on the Gorge up in West Virginia offers river adventures and much more. And, over in Virginia, Riverside Outfitters features urban whitewater and more on Richmond's James River.

was founded way back in 1971, the year Deliverance was being filmed on the Chattooga River between Georgia and South Carolina. The company still offers various rafting trips on the famed Chattooga (a National Wild & Scenic River), but they now feature so much more on and off many rivers near Charlotte.

"Guests visiting Wildwater have often asked the question, 'What else is there to do?'" says Wildwater vice-president Jeff Greiner. "They have looked to Wildwater to help them plan a more complete adventure escape and typically want their favorite guides to lead them. From those requests, Wildwater began searching for ways to provide the all-around adventure. They were all a natural fit."

With 'AdventuË& Cent&Ës' locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, Wildwater features mild to wild paddling adventures on the Chattooga, Nantahala, and Pigeon. Each river has its own appeals (and required experience levels) and many Wildwater veterans have paddled them all several times.

Along with the convenient rivers, Wildwater is like the USNWC in that they offer many other adventures, including: zipline canopy tours; "Raft & Rail" trips; Jeep tours; ropes courses; climbing walls; paddling instruction (kayaking and canoeing); lake kayaking; tasty dining on and off the rivers; overnight river trips; and even varied lodging options (like cabins and yurts!). For more information visit www.wildwaterrafting.com.

Adventures on the Gorge
Up in West Virginia, the possibilities at Adventures on the Gorge are equally diverse. Their famed rivers include the historic New River and the famed Gauley River. The Upper New is great for families and first-timers, while the Lower New features big whitewater. Nearby, the Gauley River is dam-controlled and the fall releases create world-renowned whitewater--while spring and summer can also mean great Gauley River runs, depending on water levels.

Like Wildwater, Adventures on the Gorge offers many other possibilities. The laundry list of fun pursuits can include: all-levels paddling instruction; canopy tours; world-class rock climbing; ATV and motorcycle adventures; varied biking and hiking; bridge walk tours high over the New River Gorge; fishing; lake adventures; paintball; team building; horseback riding; caving; scenic dining on and off the rivers; overnight paddling trips on both rivers; and accommodations (including convenient cabins).

"We started out as a whitewater paddling company on West Virginia's wonderful rivers," says company co-founder Dave Arnold. "We still offer a wide variety of whitewater adventures, but now there's so much more to pursue as well while here." Adventures on the Gorge is situated right on the New River Gorge. Visit www.onthegorge.com

Adventure Gateway
Both Wildwater and Adventures on the Gorge are members of RVer-friendly Adventure Gateway, a group of top-notch outfitters offering paddling adventures on America's top rivers across the country. The possibilities include: the Buffalo National River in Arkansas; many Maine rivers; Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness Area; the Rio Grande River in Texas; several legendary Colorado, Idaho, Utah options; the American and more in California; and the Rogue up in Oregon. Their website is a great place to start planning more mild to wild (and wet) fun across the country. All of the Adventure Gateway companies also offer options beyond their beautiful rivers. For more information visit www.adventuregateway.com.

Riverside Outfitters
In Richmond, Virginia's Riverside Outfitters features trips down the James River, with the Upper James generally for first-timers and families and the Lower James through the Falls of the James definitely a wild ride at certain water levels. Located near the James, Riverside Outfitters also offers guided kayaking and canoeing trips, various boat and tube rentals for independent river adventures, and something truly different--recreational tree climbing. For more information visit www.riversideoutfitters.net.

A bit further afield, several other rivers in the region can lead to more fun. These include: the Potomac River running through Washington, D.C, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland; West Virginia's Cheat and Tygart; Pennsylvania's Youghiogheny River; and North Carolina's French Broad and Cheoah.

So thanks to these three companies and others within easy driving distance of Charlotte, the wet and wild fun doesn't have to end at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.