Ocoee Whitewater Center, Copperhill

The Ocoee Whitewater Center, near Ducktown, Tennessee, United States, was the canoe slalom venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and is the only in-river course to be used for Olympic slalom competition. A 1,640 foot (500 m) stretch of the Upper Ocoee River was narrowed by two-thirds to create the drops and eddies needed for a slalom course. Today, the course is watered only on summer weekends, 34 days a year, for use by guided rafts and private boaters. When the river has water, 24 commercial rafting companies take more than 750 raft passengers through the course each day.
No longer used for slalom, the hanging slalom gates have been permanently removed. Because the river is dry most of the year, the Center, now operated by the U.S. Forest Service, also serves as a site for hiking, mountain biking, conferences, weddings, and receptions. It receives about 300,000 visitors a year.
Since most Olympic host cities are located far from usable whitewater, canoe slalom is a relatively recent addition to the Olympic games. The first two Olympic canoe slalom venues were canals built around dams on small rivers in nearby mountains: Augsburg Eiskanal for the 1972 Munich Games, and Segre Olympic Park for the 1992 Barcelona Games. The 1996 Atlanta Games produced the third such venue by modifying the then-dry streambed of the Upper Ocoee River. As the only in-river Olympic venue, it had the greatest water volume, the highest drop, and the steepest slope. The more recent Olympic venues, built closer to their host cities, rely entirely on pumped water and use smaller concrete channels designed to minimize the energy cost of running the pumps.
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Ocoee Whitewater Center Reviews
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57 reviews
  • Our group of scouts went to the Ocoee to do some white water rafting, On Friday we went into the OWC and got information on the river. The rangers and staff are great. Lots of information and inside s...  more »
  • We came by on a weekday while the water was down and enjoyed hiking in the forest and swimming in the blue hole. It’s a nice place to bring lunch to eat on the picnic tables overlooking the river. The...  more »
  • I stop here whenever I am in town. Great to check out the Olympic memorabilia. It's surrounding by beautiful views and hiking trails!
  • Great place to go for a walk during the week when not busy. Weekends during summer very busy. Beautiful place and was the sight of the 1996 Olympics whitewater events.

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