With 8 miles of Class II and III rapids, North Carolina’s Nantahala River is the perfect river for three hours of fun whitewater Nantahala River rafting. The river is popular with beginning rafters, families and groups. The outfitters in the gallery and infographic below provide guided and unguided trips as well as inflatable kayak trips. But first, a brief word about why the Nantahala is one of the most popular whitewater rafting rivers in the U.S. See a list and locator map of the 24 Best Whitewater Rafting Rivers in the U.S. including the Nantahala.
Click on the photos to see larger images, brief captions and links to outfitters websites. See the infographic below for more info on outfitters.
A Brief Introduction to the Nantahala River and Why the Nantahala is One of the Most Popular Whitewater Rafting Rivers in America
The Nantahala has been one of the most popular whitewater rafting rivers in America for over 40 years dating from when Nantahala Outdoor Center began the first commercial rafting operation on the river in 1972. The Nantahala begins near the border of North Carolina and Georgia and empties into the Little Tennessee River at Fontana Lake. US Highway 19/74 follows the course of the river providing ample opportunities for spectating and photography. The water flow comes from releases from Nantahala Lake which are controlled by Duke Power Company and can be relied upon to provide good water flows at all times of the year. Nantahala River rafting trips take place on the 8-mile long Lower Section of Class II and III rapids which runs from the Nantahala Powerhouse to the town of Wesser. The river has over 20 named rapids. The trip culminates at Nantahala Falls at Wesser. Non-rafters gather at an observation spot here to watch the action coming from upstream. The average trip takes around three hours. Experienced rafters may rent a raft from one of the outfitters and take on the Nantahala on their own. Some outfitters rent inflatable kayaks that take the Nantahala experience to another level. One of the most memorable features of the Nantahala is its cold water which averages around 45-50 degrees, even in summer months. The Nantahala is the ideal rafting experience for first-time rafters, families and groups.
Nantahala River Locator Map Showing 8 Miles of River from the Powerhouse to Wesser, NC
Click on the upper right-hand corner of the map to see the original map where you can enlarge and move around freely to see more details of the natural and manmade environment around the Nantahala.
Outfitters Who Provide Nantahala River Rafting Trips
|Outfitter||Nantahala Rafting||What They Say About Themselves||Location||Other Activities|
|Adventurous Fast Rivers||Guided trips, self guided trips, rentals||Our family owned and operated outfitter has been specializing in whitewater rafting adventures since 1979||Topton, NC||Main focus is on Nantahala rafting|
|Carolina Outfitters||Guided and self-guided trips. Funyak or Duckie Trips||The river is fun and exciting but does not require previous experience||Topton, NC||Rafting on the Ocoee River|
|Endless River Adventures||Raft trips year-round 7 days a week||Endless River Adventures owes its inspiration to the world’s greatest natural resource: rivers||Bryson City, NC||Kayak instruction, Ocoee rafting, Cheoah rafting, fly fishing|
|Nantahala Outdoor Center||Whitewater rafting. Guided Duckie Trips||Recognized as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure||Bryson City, NC||Zipline, biking, hiking, and others. Rafting on other rivers. Lessons and training|
|Paddle Inn Rafting Company||Guided, guide assisted, and self-guided trips||Developed its own line of rafts made specifically for the Nantahala||Bryson City, NC||Specializes in Nantahala rafting|
|Rolling Thunder||Guided, guide assisted and non-guided trips||Almost anyone can participate in the fun of paddling and maneuvering a raft down the Nantahala River||Bryson City, NC||Rafting on the Ocoee River|
|Wildwater||Guided and unguided trips. Raft and Duckies rentals||We’ve been trailblazing fun in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains since 1971||Almond, NC||Zipline, jeep tours. Rafting on other rivers|
Every effort is made to compile profiles of the top Nantahala River rafting outfitters who are professional, popular with their customers, and committed to environmental excellence. No advertising fees are involved. If you have had a good experience on the Nantahala with a rafting outfitter not included here and they meet the above criteria, add their name and contact information in the Comments box below and BG will follow up. Outfitters must have a website to be included.
See short profiles and a locator map of the top 24 whitewater rafting rivers in the U.S.