White Water Rafting in NC

Our family loves white water rafting in NC! It's one of the best adventures a family can do together and still be relatively safe. Since whitewater rafting is just dangerous enough to require a Guide (unless you REALLY know a river), it can actually be safer than river tubing on your own, but it feels SO much more exciting and adventurous!

I'm going to let my 14-year-old son take it from here and tell you all about our favorite whitewater rafting river for beginners (but exciting enough for the experienced), the Nantahala:

White Water Rafting from the 14-year-old Perspective:

White water rafting in North Carolina is a very fun adventure experience. There are many places for whitewater rafting in North Carolina, but the Nantahala River is perfect for beginners or people with younger children. Its rapids range from level two to level four, and they provide an exciting experience for the entire family. The Rafting outfitters on the Nantahala are near Bryson City, about an hour from Asheville NC. The Nantahala River provides a fun yet easygoing experience for beginners and families.

The whole trip down the river is about 2 hours. It is made all the more enjoyable by the rapids and the fun experience of rafting down the river. The rafts are big and feel very safe in the rapids. Everyone has a paddle, so you feel like you have a lot of control over the raft. The tour guide is in the back of the raft steering, and they make you comfortable by being truly good at what they do. I never felt endangered at any point along the river.

There are other rivers to go white water rafting in NC, but we recommend the Nantahala River, especially for beginners or families with young children. The first time I rafted the Nantahala with my family, I had never been white water rafting before. However, I found the level two and three rapids easy to manage. There was only one part of the river that was a level four rapid, and even it was no problem since our guide told us what to do to navigate it safely. The rapids were fun, and I had a great time all the way down the river.

All the guides on the Nantahala that we have had are excellent. They go down the river so many times each day, that they know it like the back of their hand. They know every part of the river that could cause you harm and steer you away from it. They will also talk to you, make jokes, and ensure that you have a good time on the river. They manage to keep you safe while adding to the adventure.

If you have a good-humored river guide, they might play a trick on you... If they tell you that this is a good point on the river to jump in and swim for a while, think twice! On the Nantahala, the water is very cold. At one point along the river, the guide said we could swim. So, my dad jumped out into something like 40 degree water. It was so cold, we had to all pull him back in the raft and I think his lips were purple for an hour! Even in the summer, the river is cooled down by a constant flow of cold water dredged from the bottom of a mountain lake from a dam. So, the entire river is always extremely cold, feeling more like ice water than most southern rivers.

On the Nantahala, you can go down the river either on rafts, kayaks, and what they call duck-boats, or "duckies", which are just smaller inflatable kayaks. If you are a beginner, I would definitely not recommend kayaks or duck boats. They capsize easily, and it can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Beginners should definitely start with the guided rafts, and maybe do kayaks or duck-boats another time.

White water rafting in NC is very fun. The Nantahala is a great river for beginners, while it's still very fun. Tour guides keep you safe, while letting you have a good time. I would definitely recommend the Nantahala for your next adventure family vacation whitewater rafting. It is a memorable experience that will be fun for all members of your family.






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