Wildwater Nantahala – NC

Nantahala River: North Carolina’s White Water Rafting Treasure

For five decades, the Nantahala river, located in Nantahala Gorge, just west of Bryson City, North Carolina, has been one of the most popular rivers in the entire United States! Families have been coming to the playful, fun Nantahala for generations to experience the wonders and excitement of white water rafting. In fact, generations of world class whitewater paddlers and Olympians have learned how to kayak and canoe on the Nantahala River. The Nantahala River hosted the World Kayaking Freestyle Championships in 2013.

Nantahala Adventures Start in Nantahala Gorge & Bryson City NC

The Nantahala is the perfect river for first time rafters, school groups and families vacationing in the Smokies. Whether you choose a fully-guided trip, rent a raft, or brave the river in a rented Ducky, there’s a great day to be had here for rafters of all ages and experience levels.

Wildwater built the first Canopy Zip Tour in the Nantahala gorge, and we’re still the place to come to experience the excitement of zipping, and the beauty of views from high above the treetops. Our fully-guided trips will teach you everything you need to know about this exciting activity, from safety to how to wring the most fun possible out of our multiple zip lines and sky bridges! Our KidZip offers a zipping experience for kids 4-12.

Unique to the Nantahala Gorge, the Great Smokies Railroad offers a 2 hour trip out of Bryson City that includes views of Lake Fontana and a unique perspective on the river with its rafters and boaters. Choose to add a rafting trip, canopy zipline tour, Jeep tour or simply relax by the river during the train layover in the Gorge.  

There’s so much to do in the Nantahala gorge, that you’ll want to add an overnight stay. Couples and families love our Yurt Village with pond, a waterfall with viewing deck, firepit and barbecue areas. These cozy Mongolian structures are the very definition of glamping. Or bring a group and rent the rooms in our Group Lodge. Each room has 8 bunks, a bathroom and deck, and our big dining area is perfect for group activities. Want to camp? Reserve our new Private Group Campsite for your group only.

Other Location25mi
10345 Highway 19 South/74 West
Bryson City, North Carolina 28713
Reservations #: 866-319-8870
Local Rafting #: 828-488-2384
Local Canopy #: 828-488-8899

SEE map & directionsNantahala Infomation

Nantahala Rafting

The Nantahala’s eight miles of pristine clear water and bouncy waves have made this one of America’s favorite rivers for generations. Come learn to raft with us on one of our fully-guided trips, or if you have some experience, rent a raft or ducky and take on the river at your own pace. There’s excitement for the whole family here, starting as young as 8!

Fully Guided Trip

Our three-hour fully-guided trips are an excellent way to see the Nantahala. We’ll teach you river safety, and steer you through the rapids and over Nantahala Falls!

Book this Trip

Raft Rentals

For the confident paddler with some experience, a raft rental is a terrific way to see the river at your own pace and with your own group.

Book this Trip


More stable than a kayak, and smaller than a raft, duckies allow you to go at your own pace and have big wet fun on the river!

Book this Trip

Nantahala Ziplining

The first and longest zipline course in the area, our Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours will fly you out to heights with stupendous views of Clingman’s Dome, Fontana Lake, and gorge waterfalls. With 13 zip lines and 8 sky bridges, this Canopy Tour gives you unsurpassed zipping fun through one of the premier natural areas in Western North Carolina. Our KidZip is an excellent introduction to zipping for your youngsters aged 4-12.


Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour

Explore the treetops of the Nantahala Gorge by zipping between platforms and crossing our sky bridges. Dazzling views and big excitement!

Book this Trip

Kid Zip

Bring kids from 4-12 to our KidZip park where they can try out ziplines and test themselves on adventure park elements. Something for every kid!

Book this Trip

Nantahala Adventures

If you’re looking for a unique adventure in Western North Carolina, our Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Adventure Packages are a special treat. Ride the train from Bryson City, NC up the beautiful Nantahala Gorge, then choose add a raft, zipline or Jeep trip. The train journey crosses the historic Lake Fontana train trestle, and runs up the Nantahala gorge, with full views of all the river fun. Bring the entire family!

Raft & Rail

A scenic 2 hour train ride from Bryson City, followed by an exciting 3 hour fully-guided rafting trip. We’ve got you covered for all equipment and transport back to the train!

Book this trip

Tarzan Train

After your scenic 2 hour train ride, we’ll transport you to our Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour site for a fully-guided zipline experience. Then we’ll take you back to the train!

Book this trip

Train Rides

For members of your group who just want to enjoy the scenic Great Smoky Mountain Railroad train ride up the gorge and back. There’s room to relax by the river, or sightsee during the layover.

Book this trip

Jeep Tours

Add a Jeep Tour to your package and see the backcountry, waterfalls and wildlife of the Nantahala region from our customized touring Jeeps.

Book this trip
Turn your trip into a .

Nantahala Lodging

Stay overnight and make a real vacation of your Nantahala experience. Wildwater offers several lodging options. Our Yurt Village has 8 cozy Mongolian Yurts on our 22 acre setting with ponds, waterfalls, firepits and barbecue areas. Our Group Lodge can accommodate up to 44 guests in several bunk room suites, each with a private bathroom and deck. Group meeting and kitchen facilities also available. Private Group Campsite is perfect for small groups – fits up to 8 tents.

Yurt Village

Experience the fun of glamping in our refitted Mongolian Yurts, with queen beds, ceiling fans, and private decks from which you can enjoy the scenery.

Book Your Stay

Group Lodge

Our group lodge will accommodate your church, youth or corporate group with ease. Our big communal room is great for for team building and we have a kitchen for rent separately.

Book Your Stay

Private Group Campsite

Our private group campsite for up to 40 guests has platforms for 8 tents, a building with kitchen and bath facilities, and an outdoor firepit. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors!

Book Your Stay