River City Rush” More Than a Flash in the Pan

Kayaking in Columbus Ga       In case you haven’t heard – the world’s largest urban whitewater course is open for business and adding an exciting new dimension to Uptown Columbus. After years of planning, adjustments to the river and an aggressive marketing campaign, “The River City Rush” is up and running. To paraphrase the classic line from the film “Field of Dreams,” the course is built…but will they come? Odds are, they will. More than a few. And more than once.
Let’s start with pricing. Initially, two outfitters were sanctioned by Uptown Columbus, Inc. to provide excursions on the 2.5-mile course, with prices set at $80 per person for the high-water trip and $50 for the tamer trek. In early May, North Carolina-based outfitter Nantahala Outdoor Center pulled up stakes, leaving Atlanta’s Whitewater Express as the sole service provider. The company immediately lowered the cost to $48.50 for the big ride and $32.50 for a more casual rush. “We like volume,” says Whitewater Express president Dan Gilbert. “We like to get people out there and enjoy the experience, that’s what’s important to us.” In today’s economy, affordability is a big draw. First-timers have added incentive to give the course a try. Seasoned riders have more reason to become frequent fliers.
Location and climate also work in our favor. Columbus is well placed and easy to reach. Enthusiasts from Florida, North Georgia, Alabama and other Southeastern states can enjoy a weekend break or extended stay with minimal travel. Folks living farther away, especially those above the Mason-Dixon Line, will most likely jump at the chance for an outdoor adventure enhanced by warm temps and Southern hospitality. And it almost goes without saying that, for the most part, our region’s weather is a definite plus. Aside from those occasional early-year cold snaps, there are plenty of fall and winter days wide open for outdoor play. “Here, the (whitewater) season almost doesn’t end,” Gilbert says. “We’ll be running the river into November easily. We’re open year-round, and we may run year-round.”
Whitewater rafting is off to a flying start, and more is yet to come. A zip line will be part of the course sometime this fall. Whitewater Express and The Outside World Outfitters, a specialty store in Uptown Columbus, plan to offer kayaking clinics and other classes. Word is spreading well beyond the region, including a positive review in “Men’s Journal” magazine. By all indications, the $24.4 million “River City Rush” is looking like a sound investment with a solid future.

Whitewater is Coming

Columbus Ga will soon be the home of the longest Urban Whitewater Course in the World!! Construction has already begun on a terrific whitewater course for Whitewater Rafting and Whitewater Kayaking in Columbus Georgia.

Instead of camping, enthusiasts can stay in hotels and enjoy great cuisine and nightlife in Downtown Columbus Georgia! It will be a totally different experience.

White Water Watch

While the excitement continues to grow as we inch closer to the completion of the Chattahoochee white water project, local business owners are looking forward to what the project will mean for Columbus and surrounding areas. Jason McKenzie, owner of Ride On Bikes, offers his views on how white water will enliven and invigorate our community.

Are you involved in the project in any way?
I am not really directly involved with the project, but I am really excited about the potential.
When do you expect it to be completed?
I am hoping for this project to be complete summer 2013.
How do you think white water rafting will change Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley?
I sit on a few boards and I am often asked “why does my generation not stay in Columbus?”  I am 27 years old.  Columbus has been kind of stuck in that old-school mentality — that people will move where there are jobs.  We need and are motivated by culture and lifestyle.  To prove my point, take any ski town in Colorado.  “Kids” with degrees are working for minumum wage in order to live in an area where the can ski in the winter and ride mountain bikes in the summer. I think that bringing white water to Columbus will bring the same effect to our town.  They are estimating an extra 400 visitors per day. Even if it is half of that, it will be a huge success.  The money that will come to our motels, restaurants and bike shops!  Let’s face it: outdoor people pretty much enjoy all outdoor sports.
Do you plan to get involved with any business ventures (Kayak shops, rafting stores, guided tours) based on the rafting project? 
I looked at this industry very closely and put a pencil to a business plan around white water.  It has mad potential!  After meeting with several reps and learning how complex the industry is, I decided to stick with what I am good at.  I don’t want to be Dick’s sporting goods.  I want to be really good at bikes, not just okay at several different things.
How excited are you about white water in the Valley? 
I am super stoked about this project!  It is what Columbus needs to go to the next level!
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