Built within a deep fissure carved in the North Carolina mountains by the Nantahala River, Nantahala Outdoor Center is a gearhead’s paradise. It was founded 40 years ago as a river guide center, but its stock and operations have expanded far beyond just rafting. The Appalachian Trail actually runs through the broad property, and on any given day you’ll find paddlers of all levels, as well as river guides, backpackers, and mountain bikers. If your adventures take you further west, NOC recently opened up a second shop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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