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April 26, 2024 · News, Stories

Whitewater Park Puts Montgomery in World Recreation Spotlight

Just blocks from historic downtown Montgomery, a new kind of fun courses its way above the banks of the Alabama River. The sounds of laughter and rushing water bubble up from an Olympic-standard recirculating whitewater channel, built for all ages and skill levels to enjoy. Montgomery’s Whitewater Park is the newest gem of the River Region. It’s also a perfect example of what Innovate Alabama uses to promote our state’s outdoor recreation areas to recruit and retain talent.  

Maybe you’ve seen pictures and videos of people whitewater rafting on canoes, rafts or kayaks, going over rushing water with only wild riverbanks as boundaries. But at Whitewater Park, the water channel courses alongside picnic tables, park benches, playgrounds, a restaurant, bar and a live concert stage pavilion.  

You may also see Whitewater Park during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris this July and August. That’s because the park hosted the Whitewater Slalom Olympic Team Trials in Montgomery on April 13-14. Montgomery Whitewater partnered with the American Canoe Association and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to bring the team trials to Montgomery. This is the first time the state has hosted whitewater Olympic Trials, as athletes competed for a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.  

“The Whitewater Slalom in the summer Games will be streamed on Peacock through NBC,” said Whitewater Park CEO Dave Hepp. “It’s actually going to be a bit of a marketing tool for Alabama when you see the footage they roll from the time trials that we hosted here. We were able to land this Olympic Trials event and so that’s huge. It’s exactly the kind of thing we needed to kick off our first full season.” 

Located at the crossroads of the Interstate 65 and 85 corridors, Whitewater Park is convenient to anyone in the Deep South. “This idea has been in the process for more than 10 years, and it’s the collaboration between the county, city and state leadership to bring this together. Now that we have a real world-class outdoor recreation facility with a conference center, restaurant and soon to be a hotel and further retail, the future looks bright in Montgomery,” Hepp said.  

“I think this Whitewater facility in Montgomery showcases the diversity of Alabama’s outdoor recreation assets and how we’re doubling down on that natural diversity, from the mountains of Northeast Alabama to the Gulf Shores beaches, to places like this in between,” said T. C. McLemore, Executive Director of Outdoor Recreation Programs for Innovate Alabama. “Part of our charge at Innovate Alabama is investing in outdoor recreation assets as a mechanism to attract and retain talent. We know that the types of innovators and entrepreneurs that we want to stay in Alabama, or that we want to attract to Alabama, are interested in outdoor recreation experiences like this one. So, we’re looking for ways to partner with communities to bring more places like this to communities around the state.” 

“Any time that you can highlight the incredible recreational attractions of our state and get more people outdoors, it’s really good not only for our quality of life, but it also helps us attract and retain talent in our state and draw companies here,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Innovate Alabama Council on Outdoor Recreation member. “We have a great workforce here, and there are so many things to do outside of work that really help make life complete in Alabama. We’re pleased to partner with Innovate Alabama to do good things for our state.” 

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