Nantahala River Rafting
Nantahala River – Family Rafting in NC
Nantahala River rafting trips alternate between calm spells of sparkling flat water to over 20 named whitewater rapids. This feisty river is a particular favorite of families with younger children since it is ideal for beginner’s. Almost anyone can participate in the fun of paddling and maneuvering a raft down the Nantahala River – from young children to active senior citizens. Children only have to be 7 years of age OR weigh at least 60 pounds to go down this river. North Carolina rafting on the Nantahala River is a low cost, high value experience which will add great memories to your vacation.
Eight Miles of Fun
Our Nantahala River rafting rafting trips on the Nantahala River run the full length of the river – 8 miles through western North Carolina’s most scenic rainforest. Often the cold water of the Nantahala River meets the warm air creating a mystical fog floating above the river which adds even more beauty to the surroundings. The river runs through the Nantahala National Forest – the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina. On a Nantahala rafting trip you will encounter an array of lively rapids such as Root Canal, the Isle of Dumping and Tumble Dry. Your Nantahala rafting trip will end with a big, bouncy splash at Nantahala Falls- the only class III rapid on the river.
Whitewater rafting in North Carolina on the the Nantahala River has become one of the most popular destinations in the Southeast for family rafting adventures and group outings. It is the perfect introduction to the sport of whitewater rafting. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains have found Nantahala rafting trips with Rolling Thunder River Company to be the highlight of their vacation.
No Rain-No Problem
The Nantahala River is a dam-controlled river which means you will get a consistent, predictable flow of water and not be disappointed by a lack of recent rainfall. This is absolutely essential for a great whitewater experience. No last minute cancellations due to lack of rain.
Pick Any Day
Our Nantahala River rafting trips go out 7 days a week beginning in early April and ending in early October. Check out our Trip Times/Rates page for an exact schedule. Saturdays are the busiest day of the week and July is the busiest month for Nantahala rafting trips. Just so you know. Whitewater rafting in North Carolina attracts hundreds of thousands of rafters each season. Many trips are booked well in advance so we recommend that you reserve your space as soon as possible. However, we will be happy to take you rafting on a walk-in basis if space is available.
A Little More Adventure
For those who are more experienced or just a little more daring, we offer funyaks (aka “duckies” )which are one and two person rafts – sporty little inflatables which notch up the level of adventure for you on the Nantahala. You will get wetter and colder than in a large raft but you'll also have a bouncier ride. We recommend renting a wetsuit to wear if you are going down the river in a funyak. People going down the river in the large rafts usually do not need to rent a wetsuit.
Check out our Types of Rafts page for pictures of the different rafts we offer on the Nantahala River.
Types of Rafts »
Groups Sleep Cheap
Groups with 15 or more rafters can spend one night in our group lodge FREE on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night. No kidding. Space is limited so call now.
Church groups, Scouts and school groups enjoy extending their rafting trip by spending the night in our bunkhouses at the Nantahala rafting center. We can sleep from ten to 70+ people. Our campground is also an inexpensive way to spend the night in the mountains. Camping is a unique activity that children and adults alike can enjoy. Our campground has a bathhouse with hot showers so it's not totally primitive. Rolling Thunder is a family-oriented establishment so we do not allow guests to bring alcoholic beverages onto the property. We are located only 15 minutes from downtown Bryson City, NC so restaurants and grocery stores are nearby. Check out our Lodging page for more details.
Nantahala River Rafting Options
Guide in Raft: Guarantees a guide in your raft; allows you to relax and let a pro be in charge.
Guide Assisted: You can captain your own raft but with the extra confidence of having one of our guides nearby in case you encounter any kind of difficulty.
Non-guided/Rental: Experienced rafters can choose handle their own raft with no assistance from us. When you go non-guided you are responsible for our equipment. Not recommended for first-timers.
Insurance Option for Rentals
When you choose to go down the river non-guided you are basically renting the equipment (rafts, funyaks, paddles, PDF's) from us and are therefore solely responsible for the return and condition of all equipment. Cost to replace a lost paddle, for example, would be $20. You have the option of purchasing equipment insurance for $1.00 per person which will cover loss of paddle or damage to raft. It does NOT cover loss of raft.
Nantahala River Trip Details
Minimum Age: The U.S. Forest Service requires that children be at least 7 years of age OR weigh at least 60 pounds in order to raft the Nantahala River.
Guided/Non-Guided: You have three options: A guide in the raft; Guide Asissted; or non- guided.
Trip Length: 8 miles – Total trip time about three and a half hours with about 2 hours on the river.
Adventure Level: Mild to moderate – ideal for the first timer and fun for the more experienced as well.
Included in Price: All necessary equipment, transportation to and from the river, rain suits if needed.
Raft Center Location: Bryson City, NC (western North Carolina)-about an hour and a half west of Asheville, NC
Make a North Carolina rafting trip on the popular Nantahala River part of your next trip to the mountains.
Discover the exhilarating fun on a Nantahala River rafting trip with us.
Spend half a day on the family-friendly Nantahala and enjoy 8 miles of feisty fun. Guarantees a guide in your raft; allows you to relax and let a pro be in charge. Our guides are skilled and entertaining. Mainly mild rapids with one class III at the end.
Spend half a day on the family-friendly Nantahala and enjoy 8 miles of feisty fun. On a Guide Assisted trip, you can captain your own raft but with the extra confidence of having one of our guides nearby in case you encounter any kind of difficulty. Mainly mild rapids with one class III at the end.
Spend half a day on the family-friendly Nantahala and enjoy 8 miles of feisty fun. Experienced rafters can choose handle their own raft with no assistance from us once you are on the river. An array of rafts from a one person "funyak" to a large raft are available for you on rental trips. Not recommended for first-timers.