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Rafting trips begin at the Wayah Road put-in
  • Rafting trips begin at the Wayah Road put-in
  • Paddlin' down the Nantahala
  • The trip ends at the class III Nantahala Falls
  • Getting wet in the Nantahala Falls
  • Kayaker navigates the Class III rapids
  • The 2013 Freestyle Kayaking World Championships
  • Three winners

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

Nantahala 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".

Cherokee Translation by Garfield Long Jr., Tribal Linguist, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians