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Oklahoma City is well-known for its vastly growing skyline and its repeatedly stellar basketball team, but its reputation as an outdoors hub hasn’t made the same splash.
Despite this, one of the most unique and adrenaline-inducing outdoor adventure experiences in the state of Oklahoma rests right in the middle of this hustling metropolis.
How Riversport Became The Outdoor Dream of OKC
Oklahoma City was always seen as a city that had everything: a flourishing sports culture, a great university, a notably small town feel for such a large city. But, the one thing it lacked was a place for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts to find adventure and adrenaline within the city limits. With no mountains to speak of, or a coastline within driving distance, Oklahoma City’s central problem was its lack of an outdoor center.
Enter Riversport OKC Adventures.
Nearly 20 years ago, the section of the Oklahoma River running directly through Oklahoma City was dry as a bone, dust and weeds where water used to flow, having been redirected by engineers after extensive flooding in the early 1900s. Luckily for OKC, Mike Knopp, a longtime rowing coach in the Oklahoma City University system, envisioned something different for the dusty patch of litter and mud. In the early 1990s, with adequate petitioning of the city council and direct collaboration with the local government systems, Oklahoma City and Knopp initiated the planning process for what would become the Riversport Adventure system, funded by a 1% sales tax dedicated to improving the city’s downtown area.
As blueprints were drawn and money allocated, so too was the river site improved, from a middling drainage area into a flourishing aquatic environment once more. In the late 1990s, engineers revisited the Oklahoma River’s diversion around OKC, and constructed dams that would eventually fill in a stretch of the river central to downtown life. With the advent of big water in the downtown area, Riversport Adventures began its official construction in the early 2000s, and, in 2013, opened to great fanfare as Oklahoma City’s premier outdoor adventure park.
Located just feet from the whitewater of the Oklahoma River, Riversport OKC now offers an amalgamation of outdoor activities all within the downtown area, and its presence has breathed new life into the culture and vibe of one of America’s fastest-growing cities.
Outdoor Activities Offered by Riversport OKC
While Riversport’s popularity has grown, so has its already wide array of offerings when it comes to extreme outdoor activities. If you’re interested in visiting Riversport in OKC, here’s a quick look at all the things it has to offer:
Take a Ride Down a High Speed Slide
At just over 72-feet, the Sky Slalom and Sky Luge slides are the nation’s tallest high speed slides, giving riders the chance to hit speeds of over 20 miles per hour as they slide toward the bottom. Available to the more competitive sliders out there, the Sky Dive racer slides measure in at 30-feet tall, and are meant for side-by-side competition in a tandem slide to the finish line.
Zip Your Way Across the River
In addition to playing host to spectacular rapids and high altitude slides, Riversport offers adventure-seekers the chance to zipline across the river. The SandRidge Sky Zip is a mainstay when it comes to Riversport OKC’s diverse range of activities, as it offers kids and adults alike the chance to see the Oklahoma River from a different point of view. The 80-foot tall zipline takes riders across the river and back, traveling over 700 feet in the process.
Free Fall at 80-feet Tall
One of the most popular attractions that Riversport offers, the SandRidge Sky Trail is an outdoor adventure course all unto its own, featuring an 80-foot tall structure that features six levels of high climbing challenges. With balance beams, climbing elements, and rope bridges, this course is meant to challenge you as much as it will reward you. If you’re lucky enough to reach the top of the course, the SandRidge Sky Trail offers you the chance to free-fall your way back to the ground. Appropriately named the Rumble Drop, this extreme experience is boosted by Riversport OKC’s “PowerFans,” which create the sensation of skydiving all while you’re attached to a cable that slows your descent prior to hitting the ground.
Raft the Rapids
The namesake attraction at Riversport Adventures, the whitewater rafting experience consists of rapids from Class II – IV, and is known as one of the premier places for whitewater rafting in the state of Oklahoma. The river itself is used as an Olympic and Paralympic training site, and features a 1,300-foot long competition channel that’s regularly used for high-grade technical competitions and training runs. That said, there are trips for all ages and skill levels at Riversport Adventures, and regardless of your trip choice, it’s sure to be an unforgettable whitewater experience!
For the adrenaline junkies out there, Riversport offers “extreme rafting” trips along with their family and big water packages. These extreme trips use smaller rafts that get rocked and jostled by the big class III and IV rapids, and include a full day pass to the rest of Riversport’s epic outdoor adventure experiences!
For those not interested in the host of high-adrenaline activities available at Riversport, the outdoor adventure hub offers a slew of other activities that are guaranteed to attract even the low-key adventurers among us. Activities include flatwater kayaking, SUP boarding, a water slide, tubing / surfing, a climbing wall, and a youth zone for the kids to hang out while their parents go on their extreme rafting trip.
Riversport is open from late May through mid-October.
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