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Mid-March 2023 was a time of celebration in the small little town of Great Falls, SC! The grand opening of the Southeast’s newest whitewater park and recreational paddling releases were center stage thanks to a great collaboration of Duke Energy, S2O Design & Engineering, American Whitewater, the town of Great Falls and many others. This was a +20 year project in the making. The project team transformed a +100 year old diversion dam that had long worn out its usefulness by turning it into a whitewater park with two different channels for whitewater paddlers: The right-hand Paperclip Channel and the left-hand Big Water Channel.

Get all the beta on this run at:

It was apparent that this new whitewater recreational asset would be one of the hallmarks to help bring life back to a town that time forgot. Good vibes abounded from both the paddling community who showed up to check out the new whitewater reach and the non-paddling local community who were eager to welcome the visitors!

I towed the Jackson Action Wagon down to the new Nitrolee Access Area (put-in for the new whitewater park and paddling reach) to setup a Fun Tour demo event with Dukes Outdoors as part of the grand opening celebration. It was great connecting with this local outfitter during this event to get a feel for the local community and learn some of the deep history of the area.

Most of the paddlers who showed up had no experience with this new whitewater reach, including myself. This section of river had been dewatered and not open for whitewater recreation for nearly a century. The sense of something new had spirits high and we all were eager to get on the water to check out the whitewater park and river run below. Good times abounded surfing and playing in the manmade rapids. The river run below was a beautiful wide river basin with many fun class II-III features along the way.

Here is a video by my friend Brad Eldridge that showcases our day on the Catawba:

The next time you are around the north side of South Carolina make sure you go check out this great new paddling destination! You will not be disappointed. It is truly unique and they have a full recreational release schedule for many months out of the year going forward. Even when the releases are not happening there are opportunities to paddle in the left-hand channel of the diversion dam at low water. I know I’m looking forward to going back again to give it another go!