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Nantahala River

Class II-III

Adults and kids ages 7 (60 lbs.) and older

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.

Seeing an average of only 4 hours of direct sunlight per day, the water temperature stays around a bone chilling 45 degrees.

A guided raft trip on the Nanty is a great introductory experience for whitewater rafters. Most of the river contains bouncy, Class II rapids, with the Class III Nantahala Falls providing a grand finale to the trip.

Rafting Nantahala Falls – Photo: Nantahala Outdoor Center

The river is pushy, rocky, and Nantahala Falls can be a technical challenge for inexperienced rafters. It is highly recommended to do your first run with a professional guide service.

Nantahala River Raft Guide Services (In and near Bryson City, N.C.)

Related Activities

Class I-III whitewater paddling, camping, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, road biking

Activity Type

Class I-III+ whitewater rafting


Wesser, North Carolina

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga

119 miles | 2 hours, 15 minutes

GPS Coordinates to U.S.F.S. Nantahala River Launch Site

35.274189, -83.681140

GPS Coordinates to Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area

35.303376, -83.653121

Google Map


Sunrise to sunset
No dam releases in November (December)


Yes. Forest Service pit toilets.

Overnight Camping


Nantahala National Forest

Contact Information

Nantahala National Forest
Nantahala Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
(828) 524-6441


U.S. Forest Service – Nantahala Gorge

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