a raft along a calmer whitewater feature in a whitewater park in Franklin, NH
Photo credit: McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

New England’s First Whitewater Park to Open in Summer 2021

New Hampshire is in the process of building a massive whitewater park that will be the first in all of New England.

The only whitewater park in New England will open this summer in the heart of downtown Franklin, N.H. The new park — and the city’s downtown — sit right on the Winnipesaukee River.

When finished, the park will consist of 13 acres, with an adjacent 21 acres and three whitewater features. And the whitewater features are for real: with options for paddling Class II, III, and IV whitewater.

a color sketch and rendering of a whitewater park on a river with a boardwalk bridge and people
Photo credit: McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

In addition to the whitewater attraction, the park will be home to several other trail systems and other cool features like a bike pump track, a climbing wall, and cabin and campsite accommodations. It’s what it sounds like: an outdoor enthusiast’s dream vacation location.

An old mill town, Franklin is actually so excited about the project that it’s rebranding as “Franklin Falls, in tribute to their love for the water,” wrote the city’s development counselors. The small town has been dreaming of the project as far back as 2014, and it’s been building momentum ever since.

“Mill City Park at Franklin Falls is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create the city’s first whitewater and outdoor adventure park in the northeast,” organizers explained in the master plan. “The future Mill City Park will incorporate multiple ways to continue restoring the health of this river.”

bird's eye view of master plan of Mill City Park features
An overview segment of the master plan for Franklin’s new whitewater park

Not only will the whitewater park be an outdoor destination, but it will be host to several environmental stewardship projects, like permaculture gardening and river cleanups.

“It’s no longer about me. It’s about the city,” said Marty Parichand, who first brought the idea of a whitewater park to city officials. He’s also the owner of Franklin’s Outdoor New England (ONE) kayaking and rafting store. “It’s about giving people something to believe in and moving forward on a path that’s sustainable. We are here to connect people to the outdoors.”

The city is scheduled to break ground on the whitewater park on July 12, 2021.

Editor’s Note: After 7 years of work and planning, the Mill City Park whitewater park opened on June 17-19, 2022.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.