Kayaking FAQs


What is the difference between whitewater kayaking and flatwater kayaking?
Whitewater kayaking is performed in rapids of varying difficulty using specific kayaks. Flatwater kayaking is done on calm bodies of water using recreational style kayaks. Flatwater requires little or no experience while whitewater kayaking requires instruction, prior experience and specific equipment.

Flatwater kayaking is included in the Annual Pass, Day Pass, and Single Activity Pass and takes place on the Catawba River. Whitewater kayakers may access the whitewater channels with the purchase of a Day Pass or a Single Activity Pass.


Do I need previous experience to whitewater kayak at the USNWC?
You must be an experienced kayaker to paddle our channels. We define an experienced kayaker as one who has experience in Class III whitewater and owns all their own kayaking equipment.

If you are not an experienced kayaker, we offer kayaking instructional packages.


What if I have never kayaked before?
If you have never whitewater kayaked before then we have instruction available. All the necessary equipment is included in the price.

Flatwater kayaking is a perfect activity for both novices and experienced paddlers alike. Self-guided trips or group clinics are available to suit your needs.


What kinds of kayaks are permitted on the whitewater channels?
Whitewater-specific kayaks and canoes are the only boats, other than guided rafts, that are allowed on the whitewater channels. Private inflatable crafts that are whitewater-specific, such as Catarafts (Shredders, Paddle Cats) and Inflatable Kayaks (Duckies) are permitted. Please note that there is a limit of 2 people per private craft. Private rafts, oar rigs, and framed inflatable crafts are not permitted regardless of size.


Are kayaks available for rent?
Whitewater kayaks are provided during instruction. Kayaks are available to demo for $25 / 4 hours for paddlers with experience and who own personal equipment including a paddle, PFD, helmet, and sprayskirt.


Do I need a reservation to kayak?
For kayakers with experience and their own whitewater equipment, walk-ups are welcome. Please check our Pass & Activities Schedule for water release times. All guests must check-in at the Kayak Center upon arrival.

For kayakers without experience, prior notice is required before booking kayaking instruction.


Can I bring my own boat?
Paddlers are more than welcome to bring their own boats. Whitewater kayakers are required to have all their own gear. Flatwater kayaks are included with the price of a Day Pass or Single Activity Pass, but guests with their own boats are welcome to portage them to the Flatwater Dock.

U.S. National Whitewater Center | 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway | Charlotte, NC 28214 | 704.391.3900 | info@usnwc.org