The Top Summer Activities Near Bryson City, NC

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Collage of rafting and ziplining on the Nantahala River

The Top Summer Activities Near Bryson City, NC

Bryson City is a small town in North Carolina known as a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located about 70 miles southwest of Asheville, this quaint mountain town is a paradise for outdoor and nature lovers, surrounded by beautiful mountains, streams and waterfalls. With endless activities and breathtaking views, Bryson City is the ultimate summer getaway. From rafting to railroads, here are our top summer activities near Bryson City, NC.

Rafting on the Nantahala River

Rafting on the Nantahala River

Raft on the Nantahala River

Bryson City is the gateway to America’s favorite whitewater playground. During your stay in Bryson City, make sure to get splashy and book a whitewater rafting trip on the Nantahala River. The Nantahala River is perfect for beginner rafters, thrill-seekers, groups and families alike. Experience eight miles of bouncy class I and class II rapids on Wildwater’s fully-guided rafting tour.

Group at Nantahala Gorge Zipline

Ziplining at Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour | Photo Credit: Stephan Pruitt

Zipline over the Nantahala Gorge

The Nantahala River carves out an eight-mile gorge, so deep that many parts only see direct sunlight for a short period of time a day. In fact, the term “Nantahala” is derived from a Cherokee word that means “Land of the Noon Day Sun.” Experience the beauty of the Nantahala Gorge from the treetops by taking a zipline tour with Wildwater. The original zipline canopy tour in Western North Carolina, Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours offers 11 different zip lines and 7 sky bridges. Wildwater’s two highest platforms have unbelievable views of Clingmans Dome, Fontana Lake, and waterfalls.

Jeep overlooking mountains on gravel road

Nantahala Jeep Tour

Go on a Jeep Tour

Wildwater offers 2 hour Jeep Adventures at our Nantahala River Adventure Center. Our Jeeps have been specially modified to provide a comfortable open-air ride, and each trip is led by knowledgeable guides who will introduce you to the cultural and natural history of the area. The Nantahala tour features some of the spectacular waterfalls in the Smoky Mountain region. On these trips we have seen wildlife including deer, wild turkeys, birds of prey, and sometimes even bears!

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Take a Ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Experience the beauty Western North Carolina by train during your trip to Bryson City. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad travels up Nantahala Gorge over Fontana Lake. Travelers will enjoy a one-hour layover by the river. Best of all, you can pair your Great Smoky Mountains Railroad trip with a rafting, zipline, or jeep tour with Wildwater.

Group of tubers at a waterfall

Waterfall in Deep Creek

Go Tubing on Deep Creek

Nestled on the outskirts of Bryson City in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Deep Creek. This area is known for its waterfalls, hiking, and tubing. During your visit to Bryson City, make sure to grab a tube and float down Deep Creek. Visitors will have the option to go lazy or whitewater tubing. The lower section of Deep Creek offers a smoother, wider ride, which is appropriate for smaller kids. The upper section is a wild, bouncy ride that often separates the rider from the tube. While tubing in Deep Creek is free, you will need to rent or bring your own tubes. For a list of tube rental places in Bryson City, visit Great Smokies.

Two people walking through the Road to Nowhere Tunnel

Road to Nowhere Tunnel | Photo Credit: Danny Hale

Explore the Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere is a scenic mountain highway that takes you six miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and ends at the entrance to a tunnel. On a map, this road is called Lakeview Drive but is known to locals as “The Road to Nowhere.” This beautiful drive offers an overlook of Fontana Lake and access to numerous hiking trails. Walking through the quarter-mile-long tunnel takes you to Goldmine Loop, Forney Creek, Lakeshore Trail, and other hiking trails.

Reservations are filling up, so make sure to make your reservations soon. Our Flexible Cancellation Policy gives you total freedom to change your mind and not worry if you have to change or cancel your Wildwater adventures or lodging.