What Do You Mean, No Knobbies?

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Destinations, June 1997

What Do You Mean, No Knobbies?

The park can't sate every adventure appetite. But you needn't go far.
By Parke Puterbaugh


Gaborone 101
With admirable courage, Educo, an outdoor education program, will cohost an 18-day Africa trip next month primarily for teenagers. Limited to 20 students, the group will travel from the Kalahari Desert to the Okavango Delta, with days devoted to learning wilderness skills, environmental management, and the realities of adolescent life in Gaborone. Land cost is $1,800. Call 800-332-7340 for details.

Land of the Midnight Run
The Midnight Sun Run in Fairbanks, Alaska, is the ideal race for insomniacs. Held on June 21, the 10k actually begins at 10 p.m., but the partying lasts until well after midnight — especially among spectators, some of whom don costumes celebrating summer on the Last Frontier. Typical getup: a can of "Off!" To register, call 907-456-3659.

Bargain Sail
In a bid to expand sailing beyond its core Top-Sider-shod constituency, the National Sailing Industry Association is offering the Discover Sailing Program — free half-hour sailing lessons in 400 locations across the country. Sailing experience is not required, but you do need a willingness to raise the jib on command. For the school nearest you, call 800-535-7245.

Send information for Bulletins
to Outside, 400 Market St.,
Santa Fe, NM 87501.

Few of the rivers and streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are deep or wide enough for paddling, even after a heavy rainfall. But that doesn't mean a visit to the area need be completely dry. The Nantahala Outdoor Center, the Southeast's premier rafting, kayaking, and canoeing operation, is only 13 miles southwest of the park. This one-stop paddlers' shop provides the necessary guides, equipment, and instruction to get you rafting on some of the finest whitewater in the nation.

Among the NOC's regular routes are the Nantahala, a dam-controlled river that's popular with beginners; the Chattooga, a National Wild and Scenic River made famous — or infamous — in Deliverance; and the Nolichucky, a feisty, unpredictable river that cascades through one of the deepest canyons in the East, churning up rapids justly given names like "Jaws." For reservations, contact the NOC at 800-232-7238.

Mountain biking enthusiasts should also look for their off-road satisfactions outside the national park, since the hiking trails there are closed to fat tires. (You can ride on the park's 146 miles of dirt roads, however.) As compensation, the Tsali Recreation Area, one of the most popular off-road destinations in the Southeast, is only 12 miles west of Bryson City.

But for steeper, more challenging trails and far smaller crowds, head an hour's drive east to Pisgah National Forest. More than 200 miles of singletrack snake through lush, damp forests, complete with cliffs, waterfalls, and intermittently, enough mud to ensure that you'll return bathed in mountain-biker glory. Pack plenty of shampoo. For information on the Tsali, call the Cheoah Ranger District at 704-479-6431. For information on Pisgah, call the Pisgah Ranger District at 704-877-3265.

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