Welcome to the Boone Adventure Guide’s Best River Adventures section. Below you will find information on whitewater rafting and other river adventures in the Boone, NC area including the Watauga River, New River, Upper Creek Falls, French Broad River, and Wilson Creek.
The Watauga River Gorge is known throughout the country as being one of the premier whitewater runs in the East. The river offers gently flowing sections through scenic Valle Crucis that are perfect for beginner kayakers, canoeists, and tube floats. For the more experienced boaters, look no further than the Class V Watauga Gorge. During summer dry seasons, the section below Watauga Lake offers boaters a chance to ride big waves on a regularly scheduled dam release.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 105 S for 4.8 miles to right onto Broadstone Rd./Hwy 194. Follow past the Historic Mast General Store in Valle Crucis to Watauga River Rd on the left. A good put ingin is beneath the bridge immediately after turning onto Watauga River Rd. Takeout options can be found 3 miles downstream and consider takeout prior to the hydroelectric dam 6 miles downstream.
The New River was dedicated as a National Scenic River in 1976, and for good reason – this gentle river is home to a vibrant ecosystem and flows through the pastoral landscape of gently rolling hills and rugged mountains. With 32 miles of river to explore, we suggest bringing your camping gear and making it a multi-day journey. The state park section of the river offers three different camping areas with great river access and solid camping options.
Directions from Boone: Take Highway 421 S for 10 miles to a left onto Hwy 221 N. Follow for 16 miles, passing through the town of Jefferson. When Highway 221 turns left, stay straight on Hwy 88 E and follow for 5.5 miles to The New River State Park on Wagoner Access Rd.
Renown as one of the most unique and popular swimming holes in the area, Upper Creek Falls is a must for all explorers who like the thrill of natural waterslides. The trail begins on the left side of the parking lot and descends into the gorge by way of a series of switchbacks. Head downstream to Lower Falls where one of the area’s most incredible natural waterslides can be found. As always when exploring a river, take caution and wear proper footwear.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 105 S for 17 miles to Linville. Continue on Hwy 221 S and veer left onto Hwy 181 S toward Morganton. Approximately 4.1 miles south of the Highway 181/183 junction near the Linville Gorge, you will see the sign, parking lot, and trailhead on the left.
When it comes to action packed whitewater excitement, the French Broad is hard to beat. The massive wave train of Class III+ Big Pillow Rapid provides a good introduction to the rapids and long wave trains that lie ahead on this scenic journey through the French Broad River Gorge. Rafters can stop off at the Jump Rock for a 20 foot plunge into a nice, deep pool before heading downstream for more exciting rapids and big waves
Directions from Boone: We suggest hooking up with a local river outfitter such as River & Earth to fetch a ride and get you on (and off) the river safely.
When it comes to natural beauty, the Wilson Creek Gorge is unparalleled in regards to its bountiful supply of deep swimming holes, waterfalls, and long-range views of one of the most cherished wilderness areas in the High Country. The area is renown for its whitewater paddling opportunities at high water levels, but in the summer the area offers countless riverside boulders and swimming holes to kick back and relax.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 105 S for 17 miles to Linville. Continue on Hwy 221 S and veer left onto Hwy 181 S toward Morganton. 12 miles of curvy roads later, make a left onto Brown Mountain Beech Rd, continuing 5.1 miles and veer left to stay on Brown Mountain Beech Rd. Follow to the many pull-offs along the river. The Wilson Creek Visitor Center is on the left a few miles upstream of the Wilson Creek Gorge.