World-class whitewater in North Carolina

Week of October 12-19, 1995

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World-class whitewater in North Carolina

Q: My wife and I have been rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia for the past five years. We are looking for another river in the Midwest or East that would compare to the Gauley. Any ideas?
Tim Lewellyn
Dugger, IN

A: We recommend heading down to the Great Smoky Mountains in the southwestern corner of North Carolina. Base yourself at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, a one-stop sporting resort where you can raft a different world-class river each day. Choose from a three-and-a-half-hour trip on the Ocoee River, the site of the 1996 Olympic kayaking race, or brave a seven-hour trip down the Nolichucky River's Class IV rapids. For something a little more challenging, sign onto a full-day trip down the raging Chattooga River, where you'll find some of the most technical, Class V rapids in the East. Don't be surprised if it looks familiar: You may remember it as the roiling, remote backwoods river made famous by Deliverance. Don't worry, though--NOC is one of only three outfitters permitted by the U.S. Forest Service to run the Wild and Scenic Chattooga, so it'll be just you, your raft, and the river. NOC runs all five rivers from March through mid-November and charges anywhere from $25 to $85 per person. Once you've had your fill of group rafting, try your hand at a one-day sea-kayaking or climbing course ($70 per person), or sign on with a mountain biking guide and explore the 50 miles of singletrack in the Tsali Recreation Area ($70, includes guide, equipment, and lunch). If you want to go the self-guided route, NOC rents Specialized Rockhoppers for $25 per day and four- to 10-person rafts for $17 per person per day. At night, you'll have your pick of base camp-style bunk houses ($11 per person), motel rooms ($45-$55 per night), or three- to four-bedroom vacation cabins ($100-$300 per night). Because NOC offers so many activities, it's best to design your own customized adventure package. For more information, contact the Nantahala Outdoor Center, located 13 miles south of Bryson City on Route 1974, at 800-232-7238.

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