With its higher center of gravity, canoeing whitewater can seem more daunting than kayaking or rafting, but it was in canoes that the first adventurers took on the Smoky Mountains’ rapids. Whether you try out the newer sit-in-the-center solo whitewater canoes or a traditional two-seater, the Nantahala’s friendly learning curve offers a fantastic place to hone your skills. Paddle in the footsteps of both Native Americans and canoeing pioneers, perfecting your j-stroke around boulders and down gentle drops.
Directions from Bryson City: head west on Hwy 74. After 8 miles, the road splits into two 2-lane roads — stay on 74 (left lane) and continue 5 miles. On a descent, look for a yellow caution sign indicating you are entering the Nantahala Gorge. The NOC’s Outpost will be immediately on the right.