The Nantahala River runs through the Western North Carolina mountains in a shaded gorge, giving it the distinction of being the coldest whitewater stream in the Southeast. Averaging only 4 hours of direct sunlight per day, the water temperature averages a bone-chilling 45 degrees.
The classic class II-III run begins from the Nantahala River Launch Site, near Beechertown, N.C., and ends 8 miles downriver at Nantahala Falls. A shorter run starts 3 miles downstream at Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area.
The river is pushy, rocky, and Nantahala Falls is a challenge for all developing paddlers. It is highly recommended to do your first run with an experienced guide.
The Nantahala is dam controlled and generally runs 7 days per week, except for November. In drought years, releases can be cut back more. Check Duke Energy Nantahala Dam Release Info before going, or call 866-332-5253.
Hours and Cost
Open Daily: Sunrise to Sunset
Cost: $1 per person for a daily pass and $5 per person for an annual pass. Guiding services vary.
Yes, on a leash along the banks and in the Nantahala National Forest.