The Oklahoma River and Oklahoma City's Boathouse District

© Adam Knapp, Licensed to, Inc.

In Short:

For many Oklahoma City residents, the waterway now known as the Oklahoma River was long thought of as little more than a drainage ditch. The seven-mile stretch of the North Canadian River that flows just south of downtown was transformed, though, as part of the original MAPS initiatives. The $54 million development included dams to raise the water levels, recreational trails and more. The stretch was renamed "The Oklahoma River" in 2004, and the area's renaissance continues with MAPS 3 .

Today, the Oklahoma River is the site of the Oklahoma City Boathouse District, a top metro attraction that features world-class training facilities, top annual events and recreational activities. Visitors to the Boathouse District can watch an Olympic-qualifying event, kayak on the river, bike along the trails, traverse an 80-foot adventure rope course, have a cocktail on a charter river cruise and much more.

Location & Directions:

Oklahoma City's Boathouse District is located along Lincoln Boulevard, just south of OKC's Bricktown and near the intersection of I-35 and I-40.
Get a detailed map with driving directions to the area.


Obviously, one of the key draws to the area is the presence of two outstanding boathouse facilities. The Chesapeake Boathouse, opened in 2006, not only includes professional training equipment, but also event space and plenty of recreational activities for the general public. A few years later, the Devon Boathouse joined the banks of the river, and boathouses for the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma are planned.
The Chesapeake Finish-line Tower is a viewing stage for events as well as the Boathouse District's welcome center. It is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.

River Activities & Recreation:

The Oklahoma River is lined with trails on both the north and south sides, perfect for biking, walking, running and skating. In addition, in the boathouses you'll find activities for the public such as fitness equipment, climbing walls, yoga classes and rentals for bikes, canoes and kayaks. Swimming is not allowed in the river.
Get an Adventure Pass for some of the activities above as well as:

  • The Sky Trail is an 80-foot adventure course featuring 6 levels of challenges.
  • The Youth Zone features a Cloud Bounce, Extreme Air Jumper, kids zip line and an adventure course for the young ones.
  • The Sky Slide is, according to OKC RIVERSPORT, the tallest in the United States.¬†Riders can reach up to 22 mph.
  • The Momentum Pump Track is a fiberglass mountain bike/BMX course with a series of jumps and bumps
  • A 700 foot Sky Zip line across the river
  • Coming Soon - Take a step off the 80-foot Base Jump platform and free fall until the fan slows the descent.
  • MAPS 3 brings the highly-anticipated $45 million whitewater kayaking and rafting facility.

Cruise the River:

If you're looking for something unique and relaxing, enjoy one of the Oklahoma River Cruises. There are public cruises, private charter cruises and special themed cruises.

Boating on the River:

Man-powered boats such as canoes and kayaks are of course allowed, but motorized boats can't create any wake and all boats must have both a city permit and state registration. Waterskiing, parasailing, paraskiing, sailboarding and windsurfing are not allowed on the Oklahoma River.

Oklahoma River Events:

The Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River is home to several popular annual events:

  • Summer Movie Series - held select Saturdays from late May through July
  • Stars & Stripes River Festival - held near July 4th
  • Oklahoma City Nationals Drag Boat Races - held in late September
  • Oklahoma Regatta Festival - held in late September/early October
  • Holiday River Parade - held late November/early December

Nearby Hotels and Lodging:

Traveling to the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River for an event? Here are some hotel options nearby:

  • Colcord Hotel
    15 N Robinson
    Less than 1 mile
  • The Skirvin Hotel
    One Park Avenue
    Less than 1 mile from the Chesapeake Boathouse
  • Sheraton Hotel
    One North Broadway
    Less than 1 mile from the Chesapeake Boathouse
  • Renaissance Hotel
    Ten North Broadway
    Less than 1 mile from the Chesapeake Boathouse
  • Courtyard Downtown
    2 West Reno
    Less than 1 mile from the Chesapeake Boathouse
  • Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center
    2001 East Reno Avenue
    Free Shuttle Service to Boathouse Row
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