(Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

If you love the outdoors, you might want to know about a new South Carolina river to explore.  Plus it’s just an hour from Charlotte.  Public access to parts of the Duke Energy Great Falls enhancement project will open on March 18.

The river is new because the project actually returns water to two Catawba River channels. The channels have been dry since the construction of the Great Falls Hydro Station in 1907.  Officials believe the work will not only restore habitat for aquatic life but will also provide many recreational opportunities.

“We’re looking forward to sharing these new opportunities with the public,” Duke Energy recreation project manager Christy Churchill said in a news release.  “With improvements like boater access, parking, an interpretive center, trails, and, of course, the river stretches for novice to experienced canoers and kayakers alike, this area will have a lot to offer the community.”

You’ll be able to access the new river channels at the improved Nitrolee Access Area.  It’s just off Highway 21 north of Great Falls, South Carolina.  The Nitrolee site is the former home of a fertilizer plant and now contains parking, restrooms, and boat access.  The release about the Duke Energy Great Falls enhancement project says the Nitrolee Access Area will eventually link to the Carolina Thread Trail.

Then in May, boaters will be able to navigate more than two miles of channels that contain Class II and Class III rapids.  These area will be fed by flow modifications at the dam.

The Great Falls area of Chester County, South Carolina is already well known by whitewater rafters.  The enhancement will literally give outdoor lovers a new river to explore.

Popular South Carolina Destination Tops Southern Living List Of Best Cities In The South

We know there is a lot to love in South Carolina. The state is full of some fantastic places to live and visit whether you are looking for small-town living or city-dreaming. We report a lot about the fantastic small towns our state is home to. But now it’s time for some of our best cities to shine. And shine is just what they are doing. Southern Living Magazine recently released its 2023 The South’s Best Cities list and two South Carolina cities were featured. The list is voted on by the publication’s readers, and I have to say they did a good job selecting. The number one and two best southern cities are two of my all-time favorites (one is in SC) that epitomize southern hospitality.

When it comes to North Carolina, Asheville ranked the highest, and even higher than some big-time cities! Not bad for a North Carolina mountain town.  Keep reading to see which of the North and South Carolina cities were named as some of the best southern cities. You’ll also find the top 10. Read more about them and how this list was curated on Southern Living’s website. We know how wonderful the Palmetto State is, but hearing it confirmed by experts never gets old!

  • South Carolina

  • 7. Greenville, SC

    Greensville South Carolina City Park

    Once a dilapidated section of Greenville, South Carolina, Falls Park on the Reedy is now a beautiful urban park space with walking trails, falling water, surrounded by art galleries and restaurants.

    Greenville has had quite a revival of late and has positioned itself as a destination city in South Carolina. From festivals to the bustling downtown, parks, trails, and more after a visit you’ll be saying what the locals say “Yeah, that Greenville”. 

  • 1. Charleston, SC


    Charleston, South Carolina (SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images Plus)

    I’d be shocked if Charleston didn’t top this list. The city received (deservedly so) accolade after accolade and is a popular vacation destination for people all over the country. The gorgeous scenery, historic downtown, world-class restaurants, bars, and more make it what it is.  And in my, completely biased opinion, is there a better example of a quintessential southern city? I think not.

  • North Carolina

  • 12. Raleigh, NC

    North Carolina

    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown skyline.

    Coming in at number 12 on the list is Raleigh. Our state’s capital city is home to a number of wonderful restaurants, museums, festivals, and of course, the North Carolina State Fair which happens every October. It’s also home to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, and several universities.

  • 11. Charlotte, NC


    Back to back are Charlotte and Raleigh the two largest cities in the state. And while I don’t buy into the “rivalry” between the two cities this time Charlotte one-upped Raleigh. An ever-growing city Charlotte is home to breweries, renowned restaurants and shopping, Carowinds, and the US National White Water Center. And for the sports lovers, there is the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Football Club, Charlotte Knights, and NASCAR is a short drive north in Concord.

  • 3. Asheville, NC


    All the way at number 3 is the mountain paradise of Asheville, NC. It eclipses destinations such as New Orleans, Nashville, and Austin Texas. Which are heavy hitters. But Asheville’s beauty and culture can’t go unrecognized. Whether it’s the incredible culinary scene, attractions like Biltmore and the Grove Park Inn, hiking, or the arts culture there is something for everyone to love in Asheville. Visit in October during leaf season? You’re in for an even bigger treat!

  • Top 20 Southern Cities

      1. Charleston, SC
      2. Savannah, GA
      3. Asheville, NC
      4. Atlanta, GA
      5. Nashville, TN
      6. New Orleans, LA
      7. Greenville, SC
      8. Chattanooga, TN
      9. Alpharetta, GA
      10. Austin, TX
      11. Charlotte, NC
      12. Raleigh, NC
      13. Fort Worth, TX
      14. Franklin, TN
      15. Orlando, FL
      16. Birmingham, AL
      17. Dallas, TX
      18. Huntsville, AL
      19. Bentonville, AR
      20. Richmond, VA