Construction is now complete on Oklahoma City’s new RIVERSPORT Rapids, a $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center built as part of MAPS 3. RIVERSPORT Rapids opened in May, 2016 and offers rafting and kayaking experiences for people from 8 to 80 – no previous experience necessary!
How long did construction take? Construction took approximately 15 months.
What did it cost to build? The center has a $45.2 million project budget with $33.2 million in actual construction costs.
Who can use the center? The center is designed for people of all ages and all levels of physical ability; you don’t have to be an athlete to go rafting! Families enjoy weekend rafting excursions, birthday parties and bringing out-of-town guests to the center. We also see many groups – churches, corporate groups, sororities/fraternities, sports teams and scouts to name a few – taking advantage of the rapids for team-building or just having fun.
Thrill seekers – those with more experience on the water – will enjoy the rush of using the faster channel for rafting or slalom kayaking. Expect to see both recreational and elite athletes training on the course. We also offer lessons and coached programs that will include race events.
The center is available to firefighters and others for swift water rescue training. The whitewater channels offer a controlled setting where rescuers can learn the most advanced techniques for rescuing people from fast-running water.
How are the rapids classified? Re-circulating channels pumping treated water create class II-IV rapids and offer a range of experiences for whitewater kayaking and rafting.
What on-the-water activities will be offered? The center offers a variety of activities including group rafting, whitewater kayaking (both competitive and recreational), tubing, and inflatable kayaks also known as “duckies.”
What if I don’t know how to raft/kayak? No previous experience is necessary! Professional guides will teach you everything you need to know for first-time experiences, and certified instructors will provide additional lessons and coached programs for those who want to build their skills.
What will the experience be like? The whitewater experience is approximately 60-90 minutes and includes the orientation session, raft instruction and multiple runs down the channels.
Every whitewater experience begins with an orientation session led by a professional guide. You’ll learn about the equipment, paddling tips and techniques, and everything you need to stay safe as you paddle down the rapids.
Once you are in your raft or kayak, you’ll be pulled up a conveyor belt to the top reservoir. From there, you’ll go down either the recreational or competition channel. The recreational channel will be slower and designed for people new to the sport. The competition channel will have a higher thrill level and require more advanced paddling skills.
Do I have to bring my own equipment? For rafting, tubing and body boarding, the center will provide all the equipment you need – rafts, tubes, boards, paddles, lifejackets (PFDs) and helmets. Whitewater kayakers may either bring their own gear or rent ours (in addition to pass).
Where can I buy a RIVERSPORT Rapids pass? Season and day passes can be purchased online or at Guest Services in the Boathouse District.
Will I have to pay if I just want to come down and watch? The whitewater center has open viewing areas that will be accessible free of charge; parking is $5 and all proceeds are used to benefit youth outreach and community programs of the OKC Boathouse Foundation.
How old do you have to be? Whitewater rafting and kayaking will be available for people ages 8+.
Does the whitewater center use river water? No. RIVERSPORT Rapids uses treated water in a closed recirculating system.
Why is the water brownish? The water is temporarily brown due to construction dust that blew into the channels before the center’s landscaping was completed. It will soon be filtered out and the water will be much clearer.
Where will I park? Parking is available in the Boathouse District for $5. Pedestrian-friendly access is available from Bricktown.
How long are the channels? The recreational channel is approximately 1600 feet long and the competition channel is approximately 1300 feet long.
Do I have to know how to swim? You do not need to know how to swim. Lifejackets (PFDs) are provided and required for everyone.
What happens if I flip? Oklahoma City’s whitewater course is the most advanced course to ever be built, and it is designed with a focus on safety. The channels are configured to provide an exciting experience that is, first and foremost, safe.
In general, paddlers who end up in the water can float down the channel in their lifejackets (PFD) to the end of the course. Stairs are positioned along the channels to make it easy to exit the course, if necessary, and professional river guides with special swift water rescue training will be positioned along each channel to assist anyone who needs help. Emergency stop buttons will allow the staff to shut off the flow of water in the event of an urgent situation.
What other activities does RIVERSPORT Rapids offer? The Big Water Grill offers great casual dining with a view of the whitewater channels. RIVERSPORT Outfitters retail shop offers whitewater gear, t-shirts, gift items and souvenirs. Festivals and music events are held with the whitewater channels as a backdrop, and the center includes viewing areas, jogging and walking paths and patio seating.
RIVERSPORT Adventures is located adjacent to the whitewater center site and offers outdoor attractions such as zip lines, the SandRidge Sky Trail adventure course, high-speed slides and an array of adventure activities.
What will I need to bring? Plan to bring all the things you’d take for a day in the sun – sunscreen, hat, sunglasses with strap, and if you’re going to get on the water, a towel and a dry change of clothing. Secure footwear is required.