Whether you pre­fer the pad­dle strokes from a white­wa­ter kayak, a raft, or you stand-up instead, the dif­fer­ent white­wa­ter cours­es around the U.S. can pro­vide many avenues for enjoy­ment. Whether it’s your first-time front surf­ing or you’re an expe­ri­enced pad­dler, all the best white­wa­ter parks across the coun­try also inhab­it adven­ture-rich sur­round­ings, lend­ing fun on both land and water.

U.S Nation­al White­wa­ter Cen­ter, Char­lotte, North Carolina
Home to the world’s largest man-made, recir­cu­lat­ing white­wa­ter riv­er, the U.S. Nation­al White­wa­ter Cen­ter (USNWC) pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for every type of pad­dler. Kayaks, canoes and guid­ed rafts can enjoy the class II-IV rapids and chan­nels at the USNWC, and flat water is eas­i­ly accessed from the adja­cent Cataw­ba Riv­er. Out­side of the water, the USNWC also offers plen­ty of land activ­i­ties includ­ing a deep water solo climb­ing wall, a high-ropes course and plen­ty of trails to explore by foot or bike. Throw in all the annu­al cel­e­bra­tions that hap­pen through­out the sea­son at the USNWC, and this adven­ture endowed facil­i­ty isn’t just a mec­ca for white­wa­ter rapids, it’s a bea­con for all the adven­ture sports found in the region.

Potomac White­wa­ter Rac­ing Cen­ter, Potomac Riv­er, Maryland
For recre­ation­al wave users, the Potomac White­wa­ter Rac­ing Cen­ter pro­vides two oppor­tu­ni­ties to hone your skills. The Potomac River’s Feed­ers Canal has been help­ing Potomac White­wa­ter Rac­ing ath­letes train since the ear­ly 1970s, and these class I‑II nat­ur­al rapids are still a great place to prac­tice your slalom tech­nique. The Potomac White­wa­ter Rac­ing Cen­ter also lends to the unique NRG Dick­er­son White­wa­ter Course, which fea­tures a straight, 900-foot chan­nel cre­at­ed by NRG Ener­gy as an out­put for cool­ing water from the Dick­er­son Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion. The white­wa­ter course was installed in 1992 as an Olympic train­ing grounds, and pad­dlers must have a PWRC mem­ber­ship to ride the Dick­er­son White­wa­ter Course, and as a bonus, the water is always heat­ed when it’s time to ride.

Bend White­wa­ter Park, Deschutes Riv­er, Oregon
The Bend White­wa­ter Park of Ore­gon offers three dis­tinct chan­nels on the Deschutes Riv­er, two of which are designed for riv­er rid­ers, with the third exclu­sive­ly des­ig­nat­ed for wildlife trav­el. The two chan­nels designed for humans vary between a pas­sage­way chan­nel that adds a lit­tle froth to anyone’s float, and the white­wa­ter chan­nel specif­i­cal­ly designed for white­wa­ter kayak­ing, surf­ing, and stand-up pad­dle board­ing. The white­wa­ter chan­nel at the Bend White­wa­ter Park fea­tures four waves of vary­ing dif­fi­cul­ty, all cre­at­ed by under­wa­ter pneu­mat­ic blad­ders and nat­ur­al riv­er fea­tures, and caters towards all skill lev­els of white­wa­ter athletes.

Kelly’s White­wa­ter Park, Cas­cade, Idaho
Locat­ed an hour and a half from Boise, Kelly’s White­wa­ter Park is a nation­al­ly rec­og­nized play space for kayak­ers and riv­er enthu­si­ast of all kinds. Home to The Payette Riv­er Games, Kelly’s White­wa­ter Park brings ath­letes and the com­mu­ni­ty to the river­bank through­out the sea­son and caters towards all lev­els of rid­ers with the vari­ety of waves, fea­tures and sep­a­rate chan­nels to nav­i­gate. Even for those not real com­fort­able in the water, the charm­ing back­drop of Cas­cade Ida­ho is worth the vis­it, and the adja­cent 2,600 square foot wel­come cen­ter can add a real extra lay­er to the white­wa­ter experience.

whitewater

River­sport Rapids, Okla­homa Riv­er, Oklahoma
Serv­ing as the num­ber one adven­ture des­ti­na­tion in Okla­homa City, River­sport Rapids offers great white­wa­ter oppor­tu­ni­ty and so much more. Rafters, kayak­ers, tubers, stand-up pad­dle board­ers and even Drag­on Boat pad­dlers can find some fun in the recir­cu­lat­ing water of River­sport Rapids, and for those only inter­est­ed in the waves, River­sport Rapids offers clin­ics, class­es and pass­es for expe­ri­enced rid­ers to ride on their own. Between tack­ling the class II-IV rapids that define the facil­i­ty, adven­ture options for the whole fam­i­ly are abound, includ­ing high-speed slides, height-defy­ing obsta­cle cours­es, and a bicy­cle pump track.

Clear Creek White­wa­ter Park, Gold­en, Colorado
Per­haps some of the most fun to be had in the adven­ture-endowed region of Gold­en can be found at the Clear Creek White­wa­ter Park locat­ed in the heart of the munic­i­pal­i­ty. Fea­tur­ing a quar­ter-mile run, the Clear Creek White­wa­ter Course is split into a top, bot­tom and mid­dle sec­tion, with each area offer­ing its own unique waves and drop-offs. Admis­sion and park­ing is always free to the Clear Creek White­wa­ter Park, and it can be a pop­u­lar place to pad­dle dur­ing the warmer months of the year. Serv­ing as a great place for begin­ner and long-time pad­dling enthu­si­asts, the Clear Creek White­wa­ter Park is also a great com­mu­ni­ty gath­er­ing place for out­door enthu­si­asts of Gold­en and beyond.

Truc­k­ee Riv­er White­wa­ter Park, Reno, Nevada
The Truc­k­ee Riv­er White­wa­ter Park of Reno is an aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing engi­neered space full of adren­a­line-pump­ing adven­ture. Com­pris­ing of a half-mile of fea­tures, includ­ing 11 drop pools, a vari­ety of class II-III rapids and a con­stant 50–70⁰ tem­per­a­ture, the Truc­k­ee Riv­er has some­thing for all pad­dling enthu­si­asts to enjoy. Sur­round­ing the water is a beau­ti­ful­ly man­i­cured space that’s a com­mon place for pedes­tri­ans to spend the day, and whether you hop in the water to prac­tice your pad­dle strokes, or sim­ply stand by and watch some­one nav­i­gate the waves, the Truc­k­ee Riv­er White­wa­ter Park is sim­ply an excit­ing place to be.

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Wher­ev­er you are in the world, there’s a fine place to pad­dle your kayak. Whether close enough to your urban area for a week­end trip or halfway around the world, these beau­ti­ful water­ways offer hid­den delights.

Doubtful Sound, New ZealandDoubt­ful Sound, New Zealand
Doubt­ful Sound is also called the “Sound of Silence,” and you’ll under­stand why as you cruise these waters rich in forests and rarely seen black coral. As a bonus, you’ll like­ly encounter New Zealand fur seals, pen­guins, and amaz­ing water­falls around almost every corner.

Chattahoochee RiverChat­ta­hoochee Riv­er, Geor­gia, USA
Thrill seek­ers who arrive in Colum­bus, GA can’t help but be excit­ed when see­ing the Chat­ta­hoochee Riv­er for the first time—frothing and churn­ing the thun­der of fast-mov­ing water falling some­where in the dis­tance. Kayaks can now be rid­den over some of the biggest and most thrilling white­wa­ter rapids in the Amer­i­can East.

The white­wa­ter on the Chat­ta­hoochee can reach up to 13,000 cubic feet per sec­ond in vol­ume dur­ing high water release lev­els. The speed of the rapids on the Chat­ta­hoochee makes them the largest white­wa­ter rapids south of Cana­da and east of Colorado.

©istockphoto/AneeseSea of Cortez, Mexico
This rich body of water is only a short dri­ve from the US bor­der and is one of the top kayak­ing des­ti­na­tions in the world. You can take your boat through coves and caves and pull up on an emp­ty beach to watch dol­phins play or whales make their jour­ney south. With 2000 miles of coast­line, the Sea of Cortez is one of the lush­est waters on the plan­et with more than 900 vari­eties of fish. The warm weath­er is also on your side when you’re pad­dling this sea, mak­ing it an ide­al des­ti­na­tion for a win­ter adventure.

Zambezi river in ZimbabweZam­bezi Riv­er, Zam­bia, Africa
Sure, Africa is known for its safaris, but this is where you can find the best Grade 5 rapids in the world—along with a hip­po thrown in. This leg­endary big-water riv­er doesn’t skimp on excite­ment. The Zam­bezi Riv­er below Vic­to­ria Falls has been clas­si­fied by the British Canoe Union as Grade 5—“extremely dif­fi­cult, long and vio­lent rapids, steep gra­di­ents, big drops, and pres­sure areas.” Mas­sive tow­ers of water plunge into the riv­er year-round and it’s over a mile wide. Steam ris­ing from the falls can be seen over ten miles away. The views are spec­tac­u­lar and the waves are so excit­ing you won’t even wor­ry about the lit­tle croc­o­diles float­ing past your boat.

CalanquesCas­sis, France
The Proven­cal writer Fredric Mis­tral once said, “Any­one who has seen Paris, but not Cas­sis, hasn’t seen anything.”

Sea kayak­ing is the best way to dis­cov­er the fab­u­lous coast of Cas­sis, pad­dling on the turquoise waters of the Mediter­ranean. Hemmed in by high white cliffs, the fish­ing vil­lage of Cas­sis is one of the best-kept secrets of the Cote d’Azur. There are no tacky cabanas, no blar­ing dis­co beats, and no surf side cock­tails at this paradise-by-the-sea—only the purr of a pass­ing yacht or the sound of the waves lick­ing the pic­ture-per­fect beach. As you kick back on the calm sea in your kayak (unless the Mistral—a mean wind—comes up), you can cruise beneath the Calan­ques (kah-lahnk), the nar­row inlets cre­at­ed by sharp cliffs that bor­der the shore.

NahanniThe Nahan­ni Riv­er, Canada
The Nahan­ni, a true Cana­di­an icon, winds through canyons more than half a mile deep and plunges over the Vir­ginia water­fall, which is twice as big as Nia­gara. This beau­ti­ful riv­er is sit­u­at­ed in a moun­tain­ous land­scape and glacial waters flow through Canada’s deep­est canyons, past hot springs, and tow­er­ing rock walls. Pad­dling on this riv­er you’ll quick­ly under­stand why it was declared the first World Her­itage Site by the Unit­ed Nations in 1978.

camp kayak

camp kayakThe blue water beck­ons. Some­where out there is a remote island with a beach, some­place you can only get to by pad­dling. You’ve rent­ed a kayak or bor­rowed a friend’s. Before you just load up and go, here’s what you should know: some essen­tial gear for kayak camp­ing, and how to make it easy and fun.

Dry Hatch­es
Those com­part­ments inside sea kayaks keep out most of the water if the boat cap­sizes, but not all. If you want to keep your gear dry, but it in dry bags inside the hatch­es. Things that absolute­ly need to stay dry, such as elec­tron­ics and cam­eras, should go into dry box­es with O‑ring seals.

Lots of Small Things Pack Easier
Don’t pile things in big dry bags as canoers and rafters do. It’s far eas­i­er to cram gear in a kayak when it’s in lots of small dry bags (5–10 liters and small­er) than a few big ones. This lets you use the near­ly infi­nite small spaces between items. Hard objects, like pots and pans and big dry box­es, are the hard­est to pack, so pack those first or find small­er versions.

Bal­ance and Access
Just like a back­pack, you’ll want to make sure your kayak floats even­ly. Too much weight in the ends will make it hard to turn. Bal­ance fore and aft will make it pad­dle nor­mal­ly, instead of tilt­ing to one side or wan­der­ing across the water like a drunk stum­bling down the side­walk. And think about what you want access to eas­i­ly: lunch, jack­et, gloves, etc. and what you won’t need until camp.

Keep a Clean Deck
You’ll be tempt­ed to strap lots of stuff to the deck. Don’t. Gear on the deck makes the kayak unsta­ble, catch­es the wind, and com­pli­cates res­cues. A fright­en­ing num­ber of acci­dents and coast guard res­cues involve pad­dlers who had moun­tains of gear strapped to the deck. Kayaks are designed to be pad­dled with gear inside, not on top.

Bring Less Than You Want
Kayaks can car­ry a lot—more than you need unless you’re head­ing out for weeks on end. Resist the urge to bring fire­wood, tons of extra camp gear, or a boc­ce ball set. You’ll have to car­ry every­thing you bring up and down the beach twice every day. You’re there to have fun, not to lug stuff back and forth.

Try Pack­ing First
Try pack­ing your gear in your back­yard to make sure it fits. There’s noth­ing more embar­rass­ing than being the guy every­one’s wait­ing for on the beach, only to have to ask your pals to bail you out by car­ry­ing your sleep­ing bag.

The Sur­face Moves
Unlike hik­ing or climb­ing, a kayak moves on a sur­face that’s always mov­ing. Tides rise and drop, reveal­ing hid­den rocks and suck­ing away kayaks left unse­cured overnight, and some­times even swamp­ing tents that are too low on the beach. Cur­rents cre­ate a tread­mill that can either stop your progress or speed you along. Learn how to read tide and cur­rent tables.

Go Ear­ly and Watch the Weather
The wind is an equal­ly big fac­tor that applies far less when you’re back­pack­ing. Learn the pat­terns and lis­ten to the fore­cast. On the west coast, most sun­ny days will have a north­west wind that ris­es short­ly after noon and builds in strength. Don’t be caught unawares by this famil­iar pattern.

Know Your Route
It’s easy to get lost on the water. Unlike hik­ing, where your per­spec­tive changes as you climb ridges, in a kayak you’re always about 3 feet off the water. Islands can look like penin­su­las and bays dis­ap­pear against vast shore­lines. Learn how to read a chart, which is dif­fer­ent from a topo­graph­i­cal map. And in the US, most chart data is free online.

Have Fun!
There are few joys like trav­el­ing self-sup­port­ed on the sea. Don’t be sur­prised if you get hooked.

ekThe ram­pant April show­ers have last­ed into May, leav­ing many rivers and recre­ation­al pad­dling areas closed due to high water. When the rains come, not only does your lawn flood, so do many rivers and creeks and that can cre­ate dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions for pad­dlers and bystanders alike. Before pad­dling, always check reg­u­la­tions in your area to make sure the con­di­tions of the water are safe.

Lis­ten to the River
You don’t have to be a hip­pie to lis­ten to the riv­er. With faster water comes less sta­bil­i­ty. If it’s been rain­ing and/or flood­ing, there will also be debris like logs, leaves, sticks, and whole trees. Trees and branch­es, known as “strain­ers” will leave you in big trou­ble so before drop­ping in, look around and see if these are going to be an issue.

wsDon’t Go Alone
You would­n’t go back-coun­try ski­ing by your­self now would you? Pad­dling with only the chirp of the birds and the swish of the pad­dle through the water is always nice, but if in high water chan­nels, don’t go alone. Emer­gen­cies on the water hap­pen often and recep­tion on the riv­er is about as pre­dictable as the riv­er itself. If you’re absolute­ly dead set on pad­dling high water, at least let some­one know where you will be drop­ping in and tak­ing out.

Don’t Flip
Flip­ping is fine when there isn’t poten­tial­ly sharp/large debris in the water. Save your amaz­ing Eski­mo roll and prac­tice-wet exits for a calmer day. Plus you won’t have to be pick­ing lit­tle piece of tree bark and sticks from out of your kayak. If you know there’s debris in the water, save your tricks for anoth­er day.

jnSafe­ty First
Before leav­ing for your pad­dle trip, be sure to pack an emer­gency dry bag. In case tragedy may strike, at least you will be pre­pared. An extra set of dry clothes is some­thing you should always take on a trip. Also, an emer­gency pon­cho, water, a whis­tle, solar blan­ket, match­es or a lighter, and emer­gency food are always great to have. If your kayak has enough com­part­ments, throw in a small camp stove. Even bet­ter, learn how to make a stove out of an alu­minum can.

Don’t Get Caught
Many states have laws and reg­u­la­tions against pad­dling on high water marked rivers and creeks. Get­ting caught break­ing those reg­u­la­tions can result in a hefty fine. Obvi­ous­ly, it’s bet­ter to abide by the law and not pad­dle when con­di­tions have been deemed unsafe. Just remem­ber that the law enforce­ment offi­cials are try­ing to keep you alive, not to damper on your fun. If it’s absolute­ly nec­es­sary for you to pad­dle that day, remem­ber to be safe. Just always keep in mind, “When in doubt, stay out.”

Whether you’re 8 or 38, any­one jump­ing into a kayak for the first time make the same mis­takes. It seems that the feel­ing of invin­ci­bil­i­ty is ingrained in our blood no mat­ter how old you are. As a guide since I was 12 years old, I’ve watch many peo­ple make many mis­takes because they refused to lis­ten to a kid. Shows what they know.

Listen to Your GuideLis­ten to Your Guide
I under­stand the feel­ing of hop­ping into the kayak­ing, secur­ing your skirt, and want­i­ng to pad­dle as fast as you can to feel the wind in your hair. This, of course, isn’t always the best option. You more than like­ly don’t know the body of water that you are pad­dling and you don’t under­stand the dan­gers that lay beneath the rip­pling sur­face. Wait for your guide to give you instruc­tions! Injuries and acci­dents hap­pen when peo­ple don’t lis­ten. Your guide may seem like an incom­pe­tent kid, but they most like­ly know more than you do about kayak­ing in that moment.

Paddle RightPad­dle Right
Begin­ning pad­dlers tend to lock their shoul­ders and tor­so to feel in con­trol, and then pad­dle with their elbows bent and clos­er towards the body. This “pad­dle hug­ging” always leads to sore mus­cles and some­times more exten­sive injuries. Be sure to con­quer your “paddler’s box” by sit­ting up straight in your boat and reach your arms out in front of you. Your pad­dle should be as far away from your chest as pos­si­ble. By main­tain­ing your “paddler’s box”, you will main­tain pow­er, have more endurance, and pre­vent injury.

HydrateHydrate
It isn’t hard to fig­ure out that you will get thirsty at some point dur­ing your pad­dling excur­sion, but what you don’t real­ize is how fast you will become dehy­drat­ed. Whether you have a Camel­back, Nal­gene, Platy­pus, or even just a reg­u­lar bot­tle of water, be sure to drink and keep your body hydrat­ed through­out your day. With the sun beat­ing down on you and being reflect­ed onto you from the water, your body will be beg­ging for gal­lons of water by the end of your trip. 

Sun ProtectionSun Pro­tec­tion
Of course, your clothes will pro­tect you from the sun, but there’s only so far a rash guard will go. Be sure to slather on the SPF and pay very close atten­tion to your face. Bring the tube with you and reap­ply any time you stop. Remem­ber to wear a hat to pro­tect your scalp, and a pair of sun­glass­es to shield your eyes from the bright­ness com­ing at you from seem­ing­ly every direc­tion. Be sure to apply sun­screen even on over­cast days. The sun may not be out, but the UV rays are still com­ing down on you. Anoth­er sun­screen tip — don’t rub it too close to your eyes. Your sweat will make it leak into your eyes leav­ing you squint­ing for the lat­ter por­tion of your trip.

vdDress the Part
Now, you don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe just for one pad­dle trip, but it would be smart to invest in a cou­ple things espe­cial­ly if you intend to pad­dle more. Just like any oth­er action sport, a hel­met will keep you from pass­ing out, except that while kayak­ing, your hel­met will keep you from pass­ing out in the water. Cot­ton takes for­ev­er to dry so lean towards the syn­thet­ic, silki­er mate­ri­als that wick away sweat. Ath­let­ic shorts, board shorts, and swim suit bot­toms are great exam­ples that near­ly every­one can find in their dress­er draw­ers. You can just wear a tank top, or bathing suit top under your life pre­serv­er, but a rash guard is a great item that you will be want­i­ng after 10 min­utes of pad­dling. It guards against rash­es due to the rub­bing of your arm against the pre­serv­er and a must on a long pad­dle trip.

scStay Calm
One of the most impor­tant things about pad­dling is to stay calm. Whether it is being freaked out by a chop­py part of the riv­er, an eddy, or you acci­den­tal­ly flip over just remem­ber to stay calm. If it is one of your first times, you are most like­ly not on a body of water that pos­es immi­nent dan­gers. Slip out of your boat and hold onto it. Wait for your guide to pad­dle over and give you instruc­tions on how to pro­ceed. If you stay calm, then this keeps you and your guide in a safer position.

With ris­ing tem­per­a­tures comes melt­ing snow­pack and for some, that means big water and rush­ing moun­tain streams. Check out these sev­en des­ti­na­tions for wild spring whitewater.

Salmon River, Idaho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mid­dle Fork of the Salmon Riv­er, Idaho

The leg­endary Mid­dle Fork of the Salmon Riv­er drops 3,000 feet over 105 miles through the wild Riv­er of No Return Wilder­ness. The free-flow­ing Mid­dle Fork cours­es through spec­tac­u­lar scenery and rugged land­scape free from roads or human con­struc­tion. This riv­er is pro­tect­ed as one of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Unit­ed States.

The Ani­mas Riv­er, Colorado

The Ani­mas Riv­er near Duran­go pro­vides ample oppor­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies and expe­ri­enced adven­ture seek­ers alike. The low­er Ani­mas Riv­er offers some mod­est spring­time thrills as the melt­ing snow­pack fills the rapids with rush­ing water. Want to up the anti? Head with an out­fit­ter to the Upper Ani­mas, where seri­ous class IV and V rapids test expe­ri­enced thrill seek­ers to the lim­it. Check out the 28-mile Ani­mas Gorge, which will get your pulse racing.

Gauley Riv­er, West Virginia

The sec­tion of white­wa­ter below the Som­merville Dam swells in the spring and sum­mer with reg­u­lar dis­charges from the reser­voir. Along this most famous East­ern set of rapids, the Gauley drops 668 feet over 27 miles cre­at­ing more than 100 rapids, 53 of which are rat­ed class III or above.

gc2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogue Riv­er, Oregon

The Rogue Riv­er is divid­ed into two gen­er­al areas, the 34-mile Wild and Scenic stretch from Grave Creek to Fos­ter Bar. To pro­tect this sec­tion of con­sis­tent class III rapids, a max­i­mum of 120 users per day are allowed to run this sec­tion. A hik­ing trail along the riv­er offers access to hid­den swim­ming pools and side creeks among the lush Ore­gon forest.

Col­orado Riv­er, Utah and Arizona

Quite pos­si­bly the crown jew­el of North Amer­i­can white­wa­ter raft­ing adven­tures, the Col­orado Riv­er through the Grand Canyon is a fix­ture on the buck­et list of many adven­tur­ous souls.

There are a lot of options for a Grand Canyon raft trip and they all require per­mit­ting from the Nation­al Park Ser­vice. For a quick sight­see­ing tour, one-day com­mer­cial trips are avail­able reg­u­lar­ly on smooth water. Two to five day non­com­mer­cial (pri­vate) trips that launch from Dia­mond Creek are avail­able on a first come first serve basis.

Longer trips from Lee’s Fer­ry to Dia­mond Creek are per­mit­ted for three to 18 days for com­mer­cial­ly guid­ed adven­tures. For pri­vate trips from 12 to 25 days, hope­ful rafters must enter a lot­tery, which is weight­ed to give advan­tage to those who have wait­ed years for this once-in-a-lifetime.

Snake Riv­er, Oregon

The Snake Riv­er winds through Hells Canyon, the deep­est riv­er gorge in North Amer­i­ca at 7,993 feet. The riv­er winds through a scenic, 10-mile wide canyon and trips are high­light­ed with vis­its to Native Amer­i­can pet­ro­glyphs and beau­ti­ful hikes through the wild land­scape. Just three roads reach the riv­er in Hells Canyon and none cross it. Enjoy the wilder­ness of the Sev­en Dev­ils Moun­tain Range if you dare.

Green Riv­er, Utah

Want to check out a riv­er and some amaz­ing canyon lands such as Arch­es Nation­al Park in a sin­gle trip? Head to Utah and float the Green Riv­er, which runs from Flam­ing Gorge Nation­al Recre­ation Area to Dinosaur Nation­al Mon­u­ment. From there it cross­es the rugged south­west land­scape before meet­ing up with the Col­orado Riv­er at Canyon­lands Nation­al Park. Many sec­tions of the riv­er of vary­ing dif­fi­cul­ty and length to pro­vide a wide range of options for vis­i­tors look­ing for water-based adventure.

Green River, Utah

Mem­bers, click through below for exclu­sive sav­ings on today’s fea­tured brands:

Blund­stone: Proven in the Aus­tralian Out­back, Blund­stone boots have adorned adven­tur­ous feet since 1870. Fea­tur­ing time-test­ed boots and casu­al shoes by the leg­endary brand.

Ster­ling Rope: Ster­ling Rope is a lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­er of life safe­ty rope and cord for use in climb­ing, rope res­cue, guid­ing, and more. The icing on the cake? Their ropes are pro­duced in the Unit­ed States.

Wenger: Oth­er than choco­late, Switzer­land is known for doing two things real­ly well: watch­es and knives. Wenger made them famous for both. This col­lec­tion fea­tures clas­sic time­pieces and knives.

Ibex: Silky-soft, all-nat­ur­al, antimi­cro­bial (mean­ing it won’t stink), Ibex Meri­no wool appar­el eas­es the heartache of retir­ing your old wool gear to the rag box. Fea­tur­ing jack­ets, bean­ies, jer­seys, and more.

G‑Form: If Felix Baum­gart­ner dropped his cell phone before leap­ing from 130,000 feet to break the human speed record, his phone would have sur­vived in a G‑Form case. Seri­ous­ly. Find über pro­tec­tion here.

Naish: The past 35 years of tech­nol­o­gy and design inno­va­tions in the board­rid­ing world can be summed up with one name: Naish. Pad­dle the next gen­er­a­tion of excel­lence with inflat­able SUPs by the icon­ic brand.

Bonk Break­er: First cooked up in an apart­ment kitchen in 2005, Bonk Break­er bars give ath­letes and week­end war­riors alike the oppor­tu­ni­ty to reap the ben­e­fits of a healthy pow­er-snack that’s also delicious.

First Descents pro­vides young adult can­cer sur­vivors and fight­ers with a free week-long out­door adven­ture designed to get them climb­ing, surf­ing, and pad­dling. It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for them to reclaim their lives and con­nect with oth­ers doing the same.

First Descents is able to offer these empow­er­ing and con­fi­dence-boost­ing trips because of gen­er­ous dona­tions from peo­ple like Kurt and Deb­bi Krichko. As a part of Team Teva US West Coast, the Krichkos have been vol­un­teer­ing their time in their local com­mu­ni­ty since June 1st thanks to dona­tions that also direct­ly sup­port First Descents in their efforts. They’ll con­tin­ue to vol­un­teer in such activ­i­ties like local area road and riv­er cleanup and soup kitchen assis­tance until Sep­tem­ber 1st. For infor­ma­tion on how you can assist, vis­it their dona­tion page here.

 

Pho­to cour­tesy of FirstDescents.org

You can also apply to vol­un­teer (Camp Moms, Med­ical Vol­un­teers, Camp Pho­tog­ra­phers, etc.) at First Descents direct­ly at their site here. Or you can start your own team.

We’re always look­ing to high­light peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions doing good works while sup­port­ing their love of the out­doors. If you know of some­one we should inter­view, please send the infor­ma­tion to nina@theclymb.com.

Pad­dling since he was able to hold a pad­dle, at 21-years-old Casey Eich­feld is cur­rent­ly the top C‑1 pad­dler in the Unites States. Slow­ing down is not some­thing that comes nat­u­ral­ly to Casey, so we were hon­ored when he took a few moments for us, as he pre­pares to com­pete in L’Argentiere, France this week­end, to answer some ques­tions about his career and what its like to be an Olympian. 

 

The Clymb: What’s your ear­li­est pad­dling memory?

Casey Eich­feld: My ear­li­est pad­dling mem­o­ry is of an island that my Dad and I used to vis­it when I was two years old and we were liv­ing in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia. The island was on the James Riv­er and cre­at­ed a lit­tle stream between it and the main shore. My Dad would bring thin PVC poles with us and he would stick them into the sand. They were the first slalom gates that I ever got to do. I think it was around that time that par­ents real­ized the lit­tle riv­er mon­ster they had created.

TC: What would peo­ple be sur­prised to learn about what it’s like to par­tic­i­pate in The Olympics (Bei­jing Olympic Games)?

CE: Being an Olympian is prob­a­bly the most incred­i­ble thing that I have got­ten to do so far in my ath­let­ic career. It was an adven­ture beyond any I had come across to that point. Some­thing that I found inter­est­ing and did­n’t real­ly expect was the orga­ni­za­tion of the Olympic Vil­lage. To be com­plete­ly hon­est, the Vil­lage was almost like being at school with a bunch of exchange stu­dents. We had gath­er­ings where we could get togeth­er and meet one anoth­er from ath­letes in oth­er sports from our coun­try as well as all the oth­ers. And the cafa­te­ria, it was just like school again with every­one going up in lines togeth­er and sit­ting with one anoth­er. Slow­ly you could see the ath­letes leave their com­fort zones and start hang­ing out with oth­er peo­ple they had met in the Vil­lage. It was real­ly cool to get to see how every­one coin­cid­ed with one anoth­er as oppose to just stay­ing with the team mem­bers they knew.

Pho­to cour­tesy of Casey Eichfeld

TC: What life lessons have you learned from paddling?

CE: Pad­dling has been an enor­mous part of my life for as long as I can remem­ber. It has been a key piece to learn­ing patience that comes with any­thing that you do in life. Train­ing has its moments when it feels real­ly good and oth­er times when it is the most frus­trat­ing thing you can remem­ber hav­ing done. In the end, my boat is where I can escape to. I live on a flat­wa­ter stretch of the Cataw­ba Riv­er in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na and it is nice to know that I can escape to the calm water when­ev­er I need to mull things over.

TC: If you couldn’t do this, what would you be doing?

CE: As a per­son I am nat­u­ral­ly com­pet­i­tive and ath­let­ic so I would prob­a­bly be doing a sport of some kind. Per­haps I would have tak­en the more tra­di­tion­al route of four years of col­lege fol­low­ing high school and then mov­ing on to a career. Pad­dling has been my career though since I decid­ed that I want­ed that Olympic gold when I was still very young. It is hard for me to pic­ture myself not pad­dling and rac­ing competitively.

TC: You said that you stud­ied dance to help with bal­ance and flex­i­bil­i­ty. What kind of dance? What­ev­er activ­i­ties help with paddling?

CE: Dance was a pret­ty big part of my life for a num­ber of years. School, pad­dling, and dance took up the major­i­ty of my time. It was­n’t until I start­ed trav­el­ing to Europe at 14 that I decid­ed it was time to pri­or­i­tize. Dance for me includ­ed Bal­let, Mod­ern, Char­ac­ter, and a vari­ety of Hip Hop/Jazz. My dance school came to know me well and did­n’t seem to mind hav­ing a boy among the ranks. All sorts of cross train­ing are still found in my train­ing sched­ules. We run and weight lift a few times a week. Cer­tain activ­i­ties like moun­tain bik­ing are great for sta­mi­na but we have to be care­ful of injuries. Most of the rac­ers also real­ly enjoy recre­ation­al riv­er run­ning. It helps to keep our riv­er skills sharp so that we can han­dle what­ev­er the rivers have in store for us.

TC: Do you ever get ner­vous before competing?

CE: Do I get ner­vous? I am def­i­nite­ly one of the rac­ers that gets ner­vous. I have a heck of a time try­ing to eat break­fast the morn­ing of a race. Hav­ing said that, I would­n’t be the rac­er that I am if I did­n’t get ner­vous. The nerves help me to get amped up and excit­ed for a race. As soon as the start­ing count­down fin­ish­es instinct kicks in. I can always tell a good run for me by the way I notice every­thing that is going on around me and not just in front of me.

TC: What advice would you offer a young per­son inter­est­ed in pad­dling competitively?

CE: White­wa­ter slalom or any oth­er pad­dling dis­ci­pline is just like any oth­er sport. A lot of kids play sports when they are grow­ing up. Pad­dling is def­i­nite­ly out of the ordi­nary but it is a fun sport and there are always new peo­ple learn­ing how to pad­dle. I can’t count the num­ber of races that I did grow­ing up but I know that every one of them was a blast! I love this sport and have since the very begin­ning. I think that is what has allowed me to get this far. I want­ed it and I trained for it and I con­tin­ue to every­day. Noth­ing worth hav­ing comes easily.

 

Pho­to Cour­tesy of CaseyEichfeld.us

Casey start­ed pad­dling in white­wa­ter at age two and slalom rac­ing at age five. At the age of eight, Casey was the youngest Nation­al Slalom Cadet Team mem­ber and the youngest solo com­peti­tor at a U.S. White­wa­ter Slalom Nation­als. At age 14, he was com­pet­ing in Europe as a Nation­al Junior Team mem­ber. In June 2000, Casey was rec­og­nized as one of the “Pad­dlers of the Next Cen­tu­ry” by Pad­dler mag­a­zine. And, in the Sports Illus­trat­ed for Kids Octo­ber 2000 Olympic issue, Casey was list­ed as a future “Olympic Hotshot.”

For infor­ma­tion on how you can help Casey on his path to the 2012 Lon­don Games, email Casey direct­ly at: caseye­ich­feld (at) gmail (dot) com. Also, “like” Casey’s Face­book page to stay updat­ed on his com­pe­ti­tions and jour­ney to London.