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Nantahala River

Class II-III

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.

In the Nantahala River Gorge

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

The classic Nanty paddling 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.

At Nantahala Falls

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.

American Whitewater Nantahala River Information


The Nanty is dam controlled and generally runs 7 days per week, except for November. In drought years, releases can be cut back more.

Duke Energy Nantahala Dam Release Info


Related Activities

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

Activity Type

Class I-III whitewater kayaking, canoeing, standup paddleboarding


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 (Lower Put In)

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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