The Ocoee Whitewater Center (OWC) is still a popular tourist destination. OWC is an easiy drive for those living in the southeastern United States. Its creation in 1996 to provide a venue for the 1996 Olympic whitewater slalom events. The Forest Service USFS owns and operates OWC.
On April 26, 2022, tragedy struck the Ocoee Whitewater Center when a devastating fire broke out and destroyed the building. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze. And the main attraction is the river that was not impacted by the fire. The Cherokee National Forest and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have since joined forces to begin the process of restoring the OWC. According to media sources as recently as December 2022 the ATF and TBI still have not determined a cause and the investigation continues. Prior to the fire it housed offices, a museum, and shop.
The OWC is a source of pride for the region ever since hosting the first ever Olympic whitewater event on a natural river in 1996. This historic event put the Ocoee River on the map and has made it a sought-after destination for whitewater enthusiasts ever since. The OWC is a unique blend of natural and man-made features. The rocky river gorge and the river has been carefully modified to enhance its rapids.
Today, the OWC still offers a variety of activities for visitors. You can hike or bike along the historic trails. Or take a dip in the river at Blue Hole on summer weekdays. Maybe enjoy a picnic along the river. And explore the native gardens and walkways, and so much more. The OWC is a unique and special place that is a symbol of the area. So, the Cherokee National Forest and TVA are working hard to ensure that it is restored to its former glory.
Whitewater Center is an important part of the local community. And the loss of its building is deeply felt. The center provides an opportunity for people to experience the beauty of the Ocoee River and to learn about the history of the region.