The Nantahala's eight-mile rafting and kayaking venue is one of the nation's most popular
A number of outfitters conduct guided and unguided trips down the Nantahala. Most offer a choice of boat sizes from eight-person rafts down to one and two-person inflatable kayaks ('duckies)'. All have busses to ferry passengers to and from their outpost locations.
The Nanatala's rapids are mosty Class II, but the best is saved for last. The Class III "Nantahala Falls" is the finale of the eight-mile rafting trip.
Olympic kayakers routinely train on the Nantahala. And in September 2013 the Gorge hosted the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships with new world champions awarded in the sport's eight classes of competition. This ultimate whitewater event brought the top freestyle athletes from 30 countries to the Nantahala Gorge for a full week of competition and events.
Rafting trips begin at the put-in area directly across Wayah Road from the Power Station. Rafting Outfitters serving the Nantahala Area include:
Rafting Outfitters serving the Nantahala Area include:
Carolina Outfitters Rafting
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Paddle Inn Rafting Company
Rolling Thunder River Company
Wildwater Ltd. Rafting
Eight miles of whitewater fun
The Nantahala Gorge is one of the country's prime whitewater rafting rivers, and consists of eight miles of waves and swift currents. The trip down the river takes a little over three hours and is almost continuous Class I and Class II rapids, with an optional Class III falls at the end.
Although it varies from one outfitter to another, the rafting season generally lasts from late March thru October.
"Land of the Noonday Sun"
Nantahala is the name given long ago to this corner of the Smokies by the Cherokee as they hunted and traveled the steep Nantahala River Gorge. They learned the sun would only light their way when it was Nun-da-ye-li — Nantahala — "a noonday sun".