Watauga Gorge Stateline Falls
Photo by Ryan Sigsbey

Watauga River Paddling

Watauga River Paddling: The Watauga has a long-standing and well-regarded reputation for high-quality whitewater. Though today much more difficult runs have been established and tamed, the Watauga remains no slouch and demands respect regardless of water level. There are a variety of pin spots, broach rocks, sieves, strainers, holes, and undercuts that require a boater to have precise boat control and excellent read and run river skills. Such a qualified boater will find a technical playground of boofs, ferries, holes, mazes, and drops arranged in such a way as to quickly make the Watauga a favorite run. While the Watauga River Gorge is known throughout the country as being one of the premier whitewater runs in the East, the river also 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 in is beneath the bridge immediately after turning onto Watauga River Rd. Takeout options can be found several miles downstream at the Watauga River park located at the intersection of Watauga River Road and U.S. 321. A lengthy portage of a historic hydroelectric dam located midway through the float should be taken into consideration. Takeout options upstream of the dam are available. 

For detailed information on the Watauga River Gorge, head to American Whitewater.

The Adventure Collective

The Adventure Collective publishes a series of outdoor adventure sports guides to adventures in Asheville, Boone, Brevard, Chattanooga, Charleston and The Great Smoky Mountains.

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