Be aware that the Lake Wylie Dam may run higher water at any time, with no warning other than the alarm, which gives you just a few seconds to move. Be very aware of this if you are paddling outside of the recreational release schedule.
Typical recreational release schedule from the Lake Wylie Dam (depends on nature & electricity needs):
- Last weekend in April: 10 am
- May 1 - June 15: Fri/Sat/Sun/Memorial Day - 10 am - 3pm
- June 16 - July 15: Fri/Sat/Sun/July 4 - 10am - 3pm
- July 16 - August 31: Sat/Sun -10 am - 3 pm
- September 1 -30: Fri/Sat/Sun/Labor Day - 10 am - 3pm
- October 1 - 31: Sat/Sun - 10 am - 3pm
The recreational release is limited to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning in the last weekend of April and ending on October 31.
For more detailed information regarding water levels on the Catawba River, use the following websites. These are great resources to tell you exact water levels and what's up [or down] with the river:
*Keep in mind that it takes approx. 1.5 hours to reach gauge from the dam.
we like to make things easy for you, so we broke it down a little further:
*CFS = cubic feet per second
(These estimates are approximate and based on observation!!!)
600 - 3000 cfs is considered low at the lower end of this range, but the river is still navigable, with plenty of rocks showing and some sections that might require a paddler to pull a kayak over shallow sections. It can be done without getting out of your boat if you are an experienced paddler and know how to "read the water."
3000- 3600 cfs gives us rocks showing at the lower end of the range...good current and no rocks at the upper end of the range. This is traditionally considered the optimal range for paddling and enjoying the Catawba River. Tubing is hazardous above 3600 cfs as it make self rescue and the take-out difficult.
3600 - 6000 cfs is very fast water. Only experienced paddlers that can self-rescue and swim in fast current should attempt these levels.
Over 6000 is dangerous water, and is for very experienced whitewater paddlers only. You won't see us out there, and we will not rent equipment at these levels.