Whitewater rafting in Tennessee

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 19-25, 1997
Adventurous trips around Scandinavia
Beginner climbs on Mount Washington
Whitewater rafting in Tennessee
Sea kayaking around Europe, Asia
Mountain-bike touring in Thailand

Whitewater rafting in Tennessee
Question: I want to go whitewater rafting in Tennessee. What I don't want to do is spend hours in Class I or II rapids. Where is the best place for III and IV?

Linda Bynum
Monroe, LA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: The Nolichucky River in eastern Tennessee is your best bet. No need to worry about being lulled to sleep by class II rapids because you'll be on thundering Class IV whitewater just minutes after you start your 9-mile trip.

After the first several miles of Class III and IV rapids, you'll make your way through a 900-foot canyon in the Cherokee National Forest, with the Bald and Flattop Mountains on the left and the Unaka Mountains on the right — classic Appalachian scenery. A few extra hairy rapids to watch out for: On-the-Rocks, with a big boulder smack in the middle of the run, and Quarter Mile, a series of ledges with a twist — two gigantic railroad containers in the flow in the main channel. And just when you think you can relax, you'll be swallowed by the first of several river-wide hydraulics that take some extremely savvy navigational skills to successfully run.

Make sure you take your trip by mid-July or the preceding promises of whitewater may be null and void. Nantahala Outdoor Center (800-232-7238) offers guided raft and duck trips (inflatable kayaks) for $46-$69 per person (minimum age 13). Private boaters don't need permits, but call the Nolichucky Ranger District (423-476-9700) for water levels and more details.

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