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Greensboro, North Carolina
August 2, 2010
Blue Ridge, Georgia
November 13, 2004
Nantahala means "river of the noon day sun," meaning that the only hours of the day that this river gets sunlight are from 11am to 1pm. The river stays at a consistent 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the morning and evening hours, mist rises from the river. It’s recommended that you wear at least a wet suit top because of how cold the water is.
The Nantahala is located at the base of the Smoky Mountains in Bryson City, North Carolina. An average trip lasts about three hours because the river is so windy and slow-moving. For a shorter trip, you can take out at the halfway point at Feriby Park. The river does have a $2 entrance fee on the weekends if you are not going down with a commercial company. I would recommend going with either River Runners or Rafting in the Smokies. Rafting in the Smokies also offers a $99 season pass that includes the Ocoee and Pigeon rivers. This pass allows you to visit any of the three rivers as many times as you want throughout the season.
The Nantahala is a great beginner river for rafters, canoers, and kayakers. All the rapids are class I-II, and the last rapid, Wesser Falls, is a class III. After Wesser Falls is the takeout for the river. Just after that is an unrunnable class VI rapid named Greater Wesser Falls. After getting off the river, you can walk to an observation platform to view greater Wesser. The rapid has sharp, jagged rocks, and you’ll occasionally see a paddle wagged straight up in between some of the rocks.
I first went down this river when I was about 10 years old. Up until then, I could not go down because of my weight. The river has a 60-pound weight minimum instead of an age minimum. This is in use so children without enough fat on their bodies will not get hypothermia. There are several places that will watch your children for a small price, so you can enjoy the day without having to leave your child at home with a babysitter. I remember staying at these facilities as a child, playing games with other kids, getting a lunch, and having a naptime.
The area is stocked regularly with rainbow trout, and there are plenty of streams to fish. For the inexperienced fishermen, there are several fish farms where you are guaranteed to catch some trout. They are also great places to take kids to get an easy catch to make their days.
The Appalachian Trail also goes through this river gorge. There are several hostels to stay at -- even one an hour’s hike up the trail. The forest also has a few campgrounds to stay at. Several restaurants line the banks on the last leg of the river. If you are in a private boat, you can pull over and order a meal river-side.
From journal The Nantahala River Gorge
April 4, 2004
From journal Smokey Mountain Small Town.. Big Fun