Nantahala Outdoor Center
13077 Highway 19 W., Bryson City. 828-488-2176. www.noc.com.
Hours: Rafting trips begin 9 a.m. and run until late afternoon. Hours of operation vary depending on water levels and space availability.
Activities: The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers a variety of trip excursions to fit each visitor's needs. Guests will spend about three hours navigating their way down eight miles of the Nantahala River. Along the way, rafters will be met by Class II and III rapids and large river rocks that will test the crew's ability to navigate. Guests can choose between fully guided trips down the river, guide-assisted trips for those who want to be the captain of their own raft, and raft rentals for experienced navigators. The center also offers a rapid transit package that combines a river raft down the Nantahala, with a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. After a day spent on the river, visitors can refuel at Slow Joe's Riverside Café for burgers and sandwiches, visit the retail store, or stop in at the pub. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase photos of their group coming over the Class III rapid at NOC before their departure. Rafting trip reservations can be made on the NOC website or by calling the center.
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Cost: Half day guided raft is $47; half day guide-assisted raft cost $37; half day guided ducks are $55; half day rental raft is $23; half day rental ducky is $29-$47; and a rapid transit train/raft package is $82-$99.
Target Audience: To participate, children must be 60 pounds or 7 years old. For a ducky, children must be at least 9 years old.
Directions: Take I-85 S. toward Gastonia/Spartanburg. Take exit 10B to merge onto US-74 W./Andrew Jackson Hwy. toward Kings Mountain/Shelby. Continue to follow US-74 W. Merge onto I-26 W. Slight left onto US-74 W. Merge onto I-40 W. Slight right onto US-74 W. (signs for U.S.-19/U.S.-23/Clyde/Waynesville/Maggie Valley/Franklin/Murphy/Atlanta). Destination will be on the right.
Travel time from Charlotte: About three hours and 15 minutes.