The U.S. National Whitewater Center is the world's premier outdoor facility featuring whitewater rafting, biking, zip lines, live music, craft brews, and more.

On Gaston County’s eastern edge, along the Catawba River, lies a 1,300-acre playground. The nonprofit U.S. National Whitewater Center has one goal: to encourage people to get outdoors. The centerpiece is the largest manmade whitewater course in the world, where paddling novices as young as 8 years old navigate class II and III rapids and elite athletes up their training on class IV rapids in preparation for the Olympic games.

The center also embraces its natural neighbor, sending kayakers and paddlers along the Catawba River’s flat water. River trips afford floaters wildlife views and a peaceful serenity that comes with gently drifting water. In all, the USNWC offers more than 30 land- and water-based activities. The center also supports complementary components of an active lifestyle, such as live music, fresh food and craft beverages. A visit here stirs a desire to make the outdoors a daily destination.

Paddle, climb, hike
 and bike

Whitewater rafting is a must at USNWC — it’s in the name after all. Rapids range from classes II to IV, and experiences vary from beginner to advanced. All options include a professional guide. Experienced paddlers may take on the whitewater course by kayak. For a flat-water float on Catawba River or Long Creek, choose from single and tandem kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Zipline courses stretch across the center’s campus. Varying from 200 feet to more than 1,000 feet long, ziplines carry passengers above the tree canopy and across the whitewater course. Traverse platforms, cargo nets and bridges on one of several ropes courses, or inch to the top of the rock at one of the region’s largest outdoor climbing facilities. The property contains 45 miles of trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking and trail running. Most USNWC activities require a pass. All-access passes cover every activity for one to two days, or single activity passes cover one activity for a certain day. Annual passes are also available.

Disconnect and Reconnect
The center encourages friends, couples and families to spend full days here, not only playing outdoors, but also eating together, listening to music, laughing and making memories. River’s Edge restaurant serves a hearty menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers and protein-packed plates. Vegetarian options are plentiful, and kids enjoy their own menu. A large deck overlooks the whitewater river. Pumphouse Biergarten is a favorite spot for cooling down and toasting the day. Choose from 60 craft beers and several casual food options. The Adventure Dining series pairs paddling or ziplining with a chef-curated meal.

Music events at USNWC have become nearly as popular as outdoor activities. An outdoor stage and lawn play host to River Jam from May through September. The concert series brings roots rock, Americana, bluegrass, folk and funk acts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. During the year, festivals pair races, runs and athletic competitions with music and food for an all-day outdoor experience.

Fun for the whole family

Kids learn through play at USNWC. A series of weeklong summer day camps encourages children to build physical skills, work together as a team and develop an active lifestyle that will serve them well for many years. Designed for ages 8 to 18, camps cover adventures from paddling and climbing to biking and hiking. Survival camp and backcountry camping take kids into the forest to teach the basics of wilderness know-how, from setting up a tent to building a fire.

USNWC field trips encourage students to appreciate their natural surroundings and teach skills for outdoor enjoyment. Classes and activities parallel North Carolina educational standards and add a hands-on component to supplement classroom instruction.



After your hike go relax in town

Mount Holly

After Your Hike Go Relax In Town

Located on the east side of Gaston County, North Carolina along the Catawba River is Mount Holly. Visitors can find this old mill town and fun things to do, by traveling north along Hwy 273 off of exit 27 on I-85.


The US National Whitewater Center


In Gaston County, NC

11 Mill Blueway South Fork Trail

A long paddle that will take you almost 9 miles down the South Fork River where you will witness both a beautifully protected shoreline and signs of Gaston's past in the textile industry with plenty of places to stop at parks, restaurants, and breweries along the way.

Riverside Marina

Many amenities for your outdoor sporting eventalong the Catawba River.

1500 River Drive


Mountain Island Park

This park features river access, a 1.6-mile walking trail part of the Carolina Thread Trail and afishing pier.

400 Mountain Island Rd.

Mount Holly

Tuckaseege Park

Visitors make use of the playground, dog park, walking trail and skate park and much more.

165 Broome St.

Mount Holly

Rankin Lake Park

The 80-acre lake, complete with fishing pier and boat dock. Canoes, kayaks, johnboats and pedal boats are available to rent.

1750 Rankin Lake Rd.


Aaron Moss Park

Located on Park Drive, includes athletic fields, tennis courts, and a picnic area.

604 N Pink St


Our accommodations are conveniently located close to major highways and include national brands, historic boutiques, bed & breakfasts and Airbnbs.  Whether you are traveling in a large group, a family, or all by yourself, you will find our lodgings to be well appointed with all the amenities you may need for a short or long stay.


Get your FREE Gaston County Visitors Guide and start planning your vacation today!A printed version of our FREE visitor guide can be sent by mail. Simply fill out and submit the form below.
Gaston County Visitor Guide 2020 Cover.j


620 N. Main St.

Belmont, NC 28012

Phone: 704-825-4044

Toll Free: 1-800-849-9994

Visitors Center is closed
until further notice.

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