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JUL-AUG 2016

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30 J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 6 R ushing water slowly comes into view as a conveyor pulls a raft to the top of a 1,600-foot-long whitewater rafting run. What happens next is an 18-minute wild ride down the recreation channel of Riversport Rapids. The newly opened rafting facility lies in the heart of Oklahoma City's downtown rather than in a remote mountain valley. It's one of several new or recently updated offerings for groups in Oklahoma's capital. From John Wayne-theme gatherings to contemporary art experi- ences to enhancements at its memorials, Oklahoma City's attractions give even seasoned travelers a reason to return. RIVERSPORT RAPIDS Six pumps that each circulate 82,000 gallons of water per min- ute give novice and Olympian rafters a high-powered ride they won't soon forget at Riversport Rapids. Sitting on 11 acres in downtown Oklahoma City, this urban whitewater center opened in May to offer rafting and kayaking experiences to people from ages 8 to 80. "They can run 2,000 people through the facility a day," said Sandy Price, vice president of tourism for the Oklahoma City CVB. "It's one of the biggest rafting facilities in the world. It's fascinating even to watch." The $45.2 million center welcomes participants with a range of skills, since the runs range from class II to class IV rapids. Groups can sign up for a 60-minute to 90-minute whitewater experience, which includes the orientation session, raft instruction and multiple runs down the channels. First-timers can opt for the slower 1,600-foot-long recreational channel, while thrill seekers can try the 1,300-foot-long competi- tion channel. Guides coach riders through rafting techniques before OKC G E T S C U R R E N T FROM WHITEWATER TO LODGING, OKLAHOMA CITY IS TURNING IT ON Photos courtesy Oklahoma City CVB BY ELIZA MYERS 21c Museum Hotel

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