Everything you need to know about Nantahala River Rafting in North Carolina

Becky WiseNantahala

Curious about whitewater rafting?  Never taken on the challenges of whitewater in an inflatable  kayak?  The Nantahala is a perfect introduction to whitewater rafting and inflatable kayaking!  The spectacular Nantahala Gorge, located in Nantahala National Forest, is one of America’s favorite playgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts.

Nantahala NC zipliningLocated at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,  the Nantahala River is just a short distance from Cherokee and Bryson City and an easy 75 mile drive from Asheville. “Nantahala” comes from the Cherokee language and means “Land of the Noonday Sun.” The river runs through a narrow and steep gorge where in some areas the sun only reaches the ground when it is directly overhead during the middle of the day.

Clear cool water, constant waves and swift currents make the Nantahala River a delight for all ages interested in an exhilarating introduction to whitewater rafting.  The trip takes over three hours and contains numerous class I and II rapids (Patton’s Run, Whirlpool, Quarry Rapid, Ledges), and a class III (Nantahala Falls) at the end making the Nantahala a mecca for whitewater rafting, kayaking and fishing. This beautiful river is a spectacle of wonder as it rushes along its nine-mile course then cascades into the tranquil waters of Fontana Lake.

Wildwater Offerings at the Nantahala

Wildwater Nantahala provides the perfect environment for first time rafters, school groups, and families.  We have many options that range from a fully-guided rafting trip, to renting your own raft or Ducky and braving the river!   Wildwater Rafting trips are fully guided. Since the Nantahala River is a dam-controlled river, one can expect good water flows at all times of the year. The trip takes over three hours and is perfect for first-timers.

Being the first Canopy Zipline Tour in the Nantahala Gorge area, Wildwater has had a lot of experience with exploring and flying through the treetops!  Our fully-guided trips will teach you everything you need to know about ziplines, as well as the breathtaking Nantahala Gorge.  Glide through the canopy or walk along our sky bridges and learn about the alluring flora and fauna.  Don’t forget about our KidZip for ages 4-12, so everyone can bring home a story!

Nantahala NC Jeep Tours - WildwaterBeyond whitewater rafting and ziplining, Wildwater is one of the only Nantahala companies who offer so much more!  Climb aboard the Great Smokies Railroad for a two-hour trip out of Bryson City that includes views of Lake Fontana and a unique perspective of the river.  Watch the rafters and boats come by as you enjoy a lunch on the train!  Combine the train trip with a raft trip or canopy tour for and adventure you won’t forget.  If you’re looking for a little more of a backcountry adventure, let us take you on a Jeep tour in the Nantahala Gorge area!

Nantahala Luxury Yurts - Wildwater Lodging at Falling WatersWith so much to do you might want to book an overnight stay (or two!) at Wildwater’s Nantahala Lodging. Couples and families love our Falling Waters Yurt Village with pond, waterfall with viewing deck, and firepit & 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.

Looking for a unique wedding venue near Bryson City, NC or in the Nantahala area?  Check out Weddings at Falling Waters, a wedding venue with deck overlooking Fontana Lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The entire Wildwater Falling Waters property is yours to enjoy with your family and friends!