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July 15, 2022

White Water River Rafting

The area is teaming with white water rafting options. From nearby and family oriented rafting of the Nantahala National Forest to the white knuckle Ocoee River. All this adventure surrounded by the majesty of the great Smokey Mountains. 

Nantahala River
To reach the Nantahala River’s best spots, travel a few miles North past Andrews, North Carolina on Route 19/74. The road will slowly shift from a highway to a mountain road with a glimpse of the river as you wind along the two-lane road to the Nantahala Gorge. Soon you will see several rafting outfitters that run guided and non-guided trips on the river. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is the largest operation, but many companies also deserve consideration. Each company identifies better with different groups, so make sure to check with each to see if their guidelines and tours meet the needs of your group.

After you select your outfitter, get wet by running eight miles of the Nantahala River’s milder Class II rapids. If you manage to hang on to the Nantahala Falls, you’ll be ready for the challenging Class III whitewater. After an exiting trip and you reach the takeout point, you’ll have options to talk and share your experience over a few drinks and snacks.

For those with more experience, you may want to rent rent your own rafts or kayaks for the day. Contact the outfitter that will cater to your rental needs and availability.

Ocoee River

Are you more experienced or have worked your way through the Nantahala River experience? In that case, you need to face the Ocoee River, near Ducktown, Tennessee just over the state line. Drive South on Route 19/74. The Ocoee river is chock full of Class III and Class IV whitewater, with more than 20 rapids drawing adrenaline junkies from the eastern half of the United States. In fact, the Ocoee River has hosted several national whitewater championships, and served as the home of the 1996 Olympic whitewater competitions.

These legendary whitewater rapids are carefully managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA. During the spring and fall, TVA releases water into the river on weekends, with summer releases from Thursday through Monday. When TVA isn’t feeding the whitewater paddlers’ addiction, the company uses the river water to generate power.

Get to know the  Upper or Middle section first. Although outfitters’ offerings vary, a half-day, five-mile trip generally packs in numerous Class III and Class IV rapids. A less-common, full-day trip combines both sections, and ramps up the excitement by adding the 1996 Olympic whitewater slalom course to the mix. As in the Nantahala, outfitters may require age minimums, weight, and intermediate to advanced skill levels, for these white-knuckle trips.

Grab your calendar and plan a visit while the season’s in full swing. By staying The Cozzi Lodge you’ll be within driving distance of both rafting hotspots, and you’ll find plenty of enticing activities throughout Cherokee County. So make those reservations now, and get ready for a photo-worthy whitewater adventure!

The most Recommended Outfitters

Category: Nature, River Rafting

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