Mike Knopp, Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation executive director, envisions Riversport Rapids and its surrounding grounds as Oklahoma City’s public beach. “Riversport Rapids is a game-changer,” he asserts. “In addition to becoming a unique travel destination, it will also have a tremendous impact on Oklahoma’s outdoor culture. We hope it will help to inspire a healthier lifestyle.”
The installation is visually magnificent, and its engineering is incredible. The rapids are powered by six huge pumps, each weighing 12,000 pounds, which at full throttle could fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in 80 seconds. They can be adjusted for people of all skill and adrenaline levels, from the novice recreational rafter to the elite Olympic athlete, and up to 2,000 people can enjoy the course in a single day.
“The water volume can be turned way down for rafting groups that include children, or for tubing, or it can be turned up for a more gnarly ride,” says Elizabeth Laurent, senior director of marketing and sales for the Boathouse District. “Every rafting adventure begins with a trip talk given by the raft guide, who is with you in the raft the entire trip. It’s a real river rafting trip.”
A day pass costs $39 and includes access to all Riversport activities in the Boathouse District and at Lake Overholser, except for the SandRidge Sky Zip.
“It’s absolutely free to come out and walk around and watch the rafting,” Knopp says. “We’re also planning lots of fun activities that the whole community will enjoy, like family rafting days, summer movies viewed floating in a tube, urban camping and twilight tubing, which will be toned down and relaxed.”
STAY AND PLAY “Urban camping will be available Saturday nights this summer,” adds Greg Newby, Boathouse Foundation marketing coordinator, listing the remaining dates of July 16, Aug. 13 and Sept. 18. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and tent sites are available on Rapids Island, the grassy area in the middle of the whitewater channels. Cost is $50 per tent, and urban campers are responsible for bringing any gear they might require.
SPLASHY CINEMA Floating Films are geared toward older kids and adults, and are $15 per tube. The Friday night movies are screened from 7 to 10 p.m., and the remaining lineup is water-themed: Oxford Blues July 15, Jaws II July 29, Without a Paddle Aug. 12, Captain Phillips Aug. 26, and The Perfect Storm Sept. 9. (Viewers need not worry about being lost at sea.)
GO WITH THE GLOW Free family fun nights, called GLOW Nights, will happen on alternating Friday nights – and there’s zero charge to attend and enjoy the movie and activities. Food trucks will be on hand for those wishing to buy dinner or a snack, but picnics are welcome, even encouraged. The GLOW night movie lineup: Goosebumps July 8, Ant-Man July 22, The Goonies Aug. 5, Pixels Aug. 19, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (ooh!) Sept. 16, and a double billing of Hotel Transylvania 2 and Beetlejuice Oct. 28.
Knopp, Laurent and Newby were each as emphatic as emphatic can be that the Oklahoma River is there for everyone to enjoy, no matter whether you’re buying a ticket. So grab the kids, pack a basket and a blanket and head to the river for fun all summer long.