Category Archives: Rafting

Whitewater Rafting Near Asheville, North Carolina

When you’re looking to plan a fun-filled adventure, there’s no better way to go than whitewater rafting near Asheville on the legendary Nantahala River. Rafting draws hundreds of thousands of beginner and experienced rafters to this area each summer, and at Rolling Thunder River Company, we’re thrilled to offer exciting whitewater rafting near Asheville!

Whitewater Rafting Near Asheville

For thrilling whitewater rafting, Ashville is the place to be! In fact, Whitewater Paddling magazine named Asheville, North Carolina one of the top 10 whitewater towns, and ABC’s Good Morning America named North Carolina the “Number 1 Vacation with a Splash.”

The Nantahala River is North Carolina’s most well-known and popular whitewater rafting river. It alternates between flat water and rollicking rapids, and it’s the perfect destination for beginners. We offer Nantahala raft adventures for people who are over the age of 7 OR weigh at least 60 pounds.

Close to Asheville, Miles from Ordinary

Our Nantahala River rafting trips carry guests through 8 miles of the most scenic rainforest in North Carolina. The river passes through the Nantahala National Forst, which is the largest National Forest in North Carolina. In addition to lively rapids, your journey will take you through calmer sections where you can enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the river. Since the river is dam-controlled, you never have to worry about there not being enough water on the day of your adventure.

Our Nantahala River Rafting Center is located in Bryson City, just about an hour from Asheville. Whether you’re an Asheville resident or you’re visiting the area on vacation, a day trip to Rolling Thunder is definitely worth the drive! Contact us today to book your reservation for the trip of a lifetime or to learn more about whitewater rafting near Asheville, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.

3 Things to Avoid When Whitewater Rafting

Here at Rolling Thunder River Company, safety is always our top concern. Whether you’re enjoying a gentle float down the Toccoa or a thrilling Ocoee River whitewater adventure, we are committed to making sure that everything goes smoothly.

It’s pretty hard to have a bad time when you’re rafting, but there are things you can do to jeopardize your safety and lower your likelihood of having a good time. To ensure the safety of yourself and your fellow guests while guaranteeing an amazing, memorable adventure, there are a few things that you should always avoid.

Keep reading for some whitewater rafting tips to learn what not to do on your next rafting adventure!

Failing to Use Proper Safety EquipmentWhitewater rafting tips

You may not want to wear a PFD or a helmet, but if we say you need to, there’s good reason! Your life jacket is designed to keep you from drowning if you end up in the water. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, rapids can pull you under.

And that helmet? That protects you from hitting your head on rocks and logs that could be hidden under the surface of the water. We have rules regarding the use of safety equipment for your own protection, and failing to abide by these rules is the best way to have a bad time.

Rafting Under the Influence

Rafting while drunk or under the influence is dangerous. Drugs and alcohol impair your physical capabilities, judgment and reasoning skills, and these are three skills that you need when rafting. If you’re feeling a bit anxious about your adventure, remember that liquid courage does not equal real courage, and hitting the water wasted greatly increases your risk of getting hurt.

Worrying About Your Tan

We get it. A day spent on the water seems like the perfect time to work on your tan. Unfortunately, this is a bad idea for a few reasons. First and foremost, you should always wear sunscreen when rafting. The sun is more intense on the water, and sunburns, dehydration and even sun strokes can happen faster than you probably reason.

Secondly, if you’re worrying about your tan, you aren’t devoting your full attention to the river and any potential hazards that lie within. For your own safety and the safety of your rafting companions, you need to protect yourself from sun-related problems and pay attention to the river.

At Rolling Thunder River Company, we’re here to help you have amazing adventures on the Nantahala River, the Ocoee River and the Toccoa River. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we offer incredible trips for rafters of all skill levels.

Top 5 Whitewater Rafting Myths

Are you still on the fence about booking your whitewater rafting trip? If so, it’s probably because of some of the many myths surrounding this popular sport. Let’s talk about some of those myths so you can make an informed decision whether rafting is right for you.

Myth #1: Rafting Is Only for Adrenaline Junkies

Rafting isn’t always extreme. In fact, most rafting trips aren’t as extreme as the ones you’ve probably seen on TV or in viral videos. Rafting is stimulating, but there are different trips that offer different levels of intensity. At Rolling Thunder River Company, we offer adventures for just about everyone over the age of 5.

Myth #2: Only Good Swimmers Can Go RaftingTop Rafting Myths

When you go rafting, staying in the boat is your number one goal. If you do end up in the water, though, having the ability to float is more important than being able to swim.

Myth #3: I Need to Be Athletic to Go Rafting

If you’re capable of getting in and out of the raft, you’re probably fit enough to go rafting. You don’t need any special training or athleticism.

Myth #4: All Rafting Guides Are the Same

When you think about rafting guides, you probably picture burly guys with beards and booming voices, and you aren’t entirely wrong. We do have a few of those guys around here, but not all of our guides are cut from the same mold.

Our guides come from all backgrounds and have varying personalities. The one thing they share, though, is passion for the outdoors.

Myth #5: Rafting Is the Same no Matter Where You Go

Every river and rafting trip is unique. The outfitter you choose makes a huge difference as well. Hitting the river with well-trained, passionate guides, such as those here at Rolling Thunder, make trips enjoyable and memorable.

Convinced? Click here to make your reservation!

20th Anniversary of 1996 Summer Olympics

July 19, 2016 marks the 20 year anniversary of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in

Atlanta, Georgia. The 1996 Olympics hold a special place in our hearts here at Rolling Thunder because one of our most popular rafting destinations – The Ocoee River – got to spend some much-deserved time in the spotlight.

1996 Summer Olympic Games on the Ocoee River

Image Source: John Anderson

Image Source: John Anderson

The Ocoee River was chosen as the site for the canoe course during the 1996 Olympics. It is the only in-river course to ever be used for an Olympic slalom competition.

To create the necessary drops and eddies for the slalom course, a 1,640 foot section of the Upper Ocoee River was narrowed by two-thirds. Levees were built along the shore and covered with natural rock. The Ocoee is a dam-controlled river, and during the Olympics, water was released at a rate of 1,400 cu ft/s.

The Ocoee River hosted a total of 16 events. The events included slalom canoeing and sprint canoeing, and there were four events for women and 12 for men.

The Ocoee TodayOcoee River

Twenty years after the close of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the Ocoee River remains a popular travel destination for whitewater enthusiasts. What was once one of the best kept secrets in the Southeast has now been named the one of the best whitewater rafting destination in the entire United States. Hundreds of thousands of eager adventurers visit the Ocoee River each year and leave with memories that last a lifetime.

The Ocoee is still a dam-controlled river, and it is broken up into the upper and middle sections. Water is released in the upper second on selected weekends during the summer while the middle has water every weekend during the summer months. With the longest continuous stretch of class III and IV rapids in the US, the Ocoee River provides incredible adventures even 20 years after the close of the Olympic Games.

Experience the Ocoee

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to experience the Ocoee River. At Rolling Thunder River Company, we offer exhilarating guided Ocoee river rafting trips throughout the summer rafting season. Experience the thrill of rafting down a world famous river. Whether you’re new to rafting or you’re a whitewater expert, the Ocoee River is a destination that no rafter should miss!

What You Need to Know About River Classifications

The Southeast provides some amazing spots for whitewater rafting. The Ocoee River and the Nantahala River offer some of the best adventures in the United States, and they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an exciting adventure.

While planning your trip, you’ve probably noticed the classifications for rivers and rapids, but do you really know what these numbers mean?

We’ve put together this little guide to help you determine which rivers are best for you based upon your skill level and experience.

Rivers for BeginnersRiver Classifications

If you’re totally new to whitewater rafting, you’ll want to look for a river with a lower classification. Class I and II rapids are your safest best if you’ve never been on the water before.

On a class I river, you can expect fast-moving water and small waves. Any obstacles in the water are easy to spot and avoid.

Slightly larger waves make class II rapids a bit more exciting, and you might need to maneuver around some rocks in the water.

With primarily class I and II with a single class III rapid at the end, the Nantahala River is perfect for newbies and kids who are over the age of 7 or weigh at least 60 pounds.

Intermediate Rivers

Intermediate rivers are best for those who have experienced a bit of rafting before or for adventurous beginners who will be hitting the water with a guide. Rivers with class III and IV rapids fall into the intermediate category. Class III rapids have stronger currents and irregular waves that may be difficult to dodge, and class IV rapids have large waves and require precise boat maneuvering.

The Ocoee River, home of the 1996 Olympic whitewater events, features the most continuous stretch of class III and IV rapids of any US river, and it is a popular destination that provides thrills for intermediate and experienced rafters alike.

Rafting for Experts

Only experienced, expert rafters should attempt class V rapids. With the proper knowledge and skills, rivers with class V rapids can be extremely dangerous, and you should never put your safety at risk for the sake of an adrenaline rush.

Ready for your next adventure? What are you waiting for? At Rolling Thunder River Company, we offer amazing adventures for rafters of all skill levels, and we would love to help you experience the adventure of a lifetime!

Rafting FAQs

Planning a whitewater rafting trip? If so, you probably have some questions. At Rolling Thunder River Company, we’re always here to answer any questions you may, but we also wanted to provide you with this guide which answers some of our guest’s most common questions.

Rafting FAQs

How do I choose the right trip?

When planning your trip, there are a few things to consider:

  • Location
  • Length of trip
  • Difficulty level
  • Age range of your group

Our Nantahala River rafting trips in western North Carolina are perfect for adventurous first timers. The Ocoee River in north Georgia is more adventurous, but not extreme and features the most continuous stretch of class III and IV rapids in the US. If you’re looking for an easy float trip, check out the Toccoa River in north Georgia.

What should I expect?Rafting FAQ

Our goal is to provide our guests with amazing and memorable adventures. We’ll start out by getting you properly equipped for your trip and going over safety procedures. Once we head out, expect to spend a lot of time on the water where you’ll enjoy calm waters with opportunities to view wildlife and exhilarating rapids.

Will I get seasick?

Most people don’t get seasick while rafting. Time spent on the river is different from time spent on the open sea, and it does not typically induce seasickness.

Do I need to be young and athletic to go rafting?

No! At Rolling Thunder River Company, we offer rafting trips for people of nearly all ages and skill levels. You don’t need any special skills or training, and rafting is enjoyable for anyone with a desire to spend time outdoors.

What should I bring?

You don’t want to bring extra “stuff” with you. Wear comfortable clothes and well-fitting shoes. Sunglasses are recommended, but you’ll need a strap so you don’t lose them in the water. Don’t bring your car keys! Leave them at the office because if they end up in the river, they won’t come out.

Should I tip my guide?

Tipping is entirely up to your discretion, but if you feel that your guide provided you with a special trip, we certainly encourage gratuities.

What if it rains?

The good news is that we go rafting rain or shine. We promise you’re going to get wet anyway.

At Rolling Thunder River Company, we want to ensure that all of our guests have an amazing time. If you have any questions while planning your trip or while you’re here, please don’t hesitate to ask!

How to Stay Warm on a Spring Rafting Trip

It’s been a long and chilly winter, but spring is finally here! As the days get longer and temperatures begin to climb, we are inching closer and closer to the 2016 rafting season.

Smaller crowds make spring the perfect time to book your adventure with Rolling Thunder River Company, but there are still some chilly days early in the season. To stay warm and enjoy your trip, keep these tips in mind.

Staying Warm during Your Spring Rafting Trip

Neoprene and PolypropyleneSpring Rafting Trips

When it comes to staying warm on the water, neoprene and polypropylene are your best friends. Polypropylene is an extremely versatile material that can be made into everything from socks and underpants to long johns and shirts, and the amazing thing about this wonderful fabric is that it helps you retain body heat – even when you’re wet.

Neoprene – the stuff wetsuits are made of – also helps you stay warm, but it doesn’t start working until you’re actually wet. The material is made up of tiny cells that absorb water which is then warmed by your own body heat.

Layer Up

Your mother probably told you to wear layers when it’s chilly, and her advice holds true even when whitewater rafting. The best way to stay comfortable on your spring adventure is to layer up. Start with warm undergarments with a fleece jacket on top. A splash jacket on top of everything provides some additional warmth and Rolling Thunder will provide one for you free of charge.

During the spring, a splash jacket is an excellent wardrobe choice. If it’s windy, it will act as a windbreaker. Your splash jacket will also lessen the initial cold shock when you blast through a wave. And of course, it will help keep your fleece jacket and any other under layers dry.

Stay Hydrated

It’s a no-brainer that you need to drink plenty of water when engaged in physical activity during the hot summer months, but it may not seem so necessary on cooler days. In fact, drinking plenty of water is just as important on cool days as it is on the hottest day of the summer. To regulate your temperature, your body needs to be properly hydrated. Drink lots of water before your trip, and go easy on the coffee since caffeine dehydrates the body.

Here in the southeast, we are fortunate to have moderate spring days that are perfect for whitewater rafting. There is always a chance for some chilly days early in the season, though, so it’s important to prepare yourself for whatever the weather may throw your way. Be sure to check the weather report before you leave home, and if you have any questions about preparing for your trip, don’t hesitate to contact us! Remember, we go rafting rain or shine.

The rafting season at Rolling Thunder River Company begins in April, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

How Rafting Addicts Survive the Winter

Not sure how you’re going to survive until rafting season? You’re not alone! To help you bide your time, we’ve put together some tips to help rafters navigate the cold winter months.

Set the Scene

Instead of staring out the window at endless clouds and snow, print out a window-sized copy of your favorite river. Affix it to your kitchen window for a more enjoyable view when you’re doing dishes.

Dine at Home River Style

Gather your rafting friends and family for your favorite river meal. Toss on a warm jacket, and spend the evening enjoying dinner in front of a campfire and recounting you last whitewater adventure.

Explore Water’s Chillier Forms

You can’t hit the river in January, but you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing or snowshoeing. Looking for some major offseason thrills? Take up ice climbing to enjoy water in all its frozen glory.

Go International

It isn’t winter everywhere! Plan a mid-winter getaway to the southern hemisphere where you can still enjoy river adventures at this time of year. New Zealand, Chile and Fiji have some amazing destinations for rafting addicts.

Start Training to Become a Guide

For those who are truly passionate about rafting, becoming a guide is a great way to turn your passion into a career. We provide comprehensive guide training, but there are a couple certifications you need prior to beginning your training. Getting your CPR and First Aid certifications during the offseason is a great way to pass the winter months while working toward having the ability to earn a paycheck for doing what you love.

Plan Your Next Adventure Rolling Thunder River Company

Since you can’t go rafting, you have plenty of time to plan your next adventure. Rafting season at Rolling Thunder is only a few short months away. Start planning and make your reservations now to get first pick for the days and times you want.

Thank You For The Best Rafting Season Yet!

Veteran Rafting GuidesWe are smiling from ear to ear! Because of you and all of our guests who share our passion for river adventures we had the best year in our 38 years of operation. On behalf of the most enthusiastic and hard working staff on the river, our warmest thank you for making it possible for us to continue doing what we love more than anything. We could not do this without guests like you who faithfully support us year after year.

Thank you for giving us such fabulous online reviews. Each one is critical to our success. We read every single review and though we can’t respond to each and every review we do appreciate them.  You should just see the faces of our staff when we read these reviews to them! Trust is an issue when selecting a river adventure company and online reviews help people decide what company to trust. We appreciate your trust in Rolling Thunder and we’ll continue to do our best to give you the best, most amazing river trips possible.

If there is anything that we could possibly do to make your experience with us better please let us know.

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! We hope to see you next year!

Rolling Thunder River Co

Do You Have What it Takes to Work for Rolling Thunder?

This summer may be quickly coming to an end, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how you want to spend next summer. If you are a lover of the great outdoors and enjoy entertaining people, why not spend it as a river guide with Rolling Thunder River Company?

At Rolling Thunder River Company, we take great pride in hiring only the best people as river guides, and we do our absolute best to ensure excellent experiences for both our guests and our employees. Since 1977, we have safety thrilled hundreds of thousands of guests and rafted thousands of river miles. Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great rafting guide.

We know that providing the right working environment makes great guides, so we strive to provide a fun and spirited work environment for all of our employees. In return, we expect that those working for us remain totally focused on the safety, comfort and overall enjoyment of each of our guests.

What it Takes to Be a Rolling Thunder GuideRolling Thunder Guide

All of our guides must be at least 18 years of age. When hiring, we look for applicants who are intelligent, friendly and have a great sense of humor. A strong attention to detail is also important. We want to make sure that every guests has such a great time on the river that they want to book another trip, and to do that, we needs guides who are committed to making the experience awesome.

Training

You don’t need to have any experience to be a river guide for Rolling Thunder River Company. We will provide you with all the training you need to master  the necessary skills to excel as a commercial rafting guide. During your training period, senior guides work as mentors and evaluators to make sure that you are developing your “river sense” and will have all the tools you need to provide an outstanding river experience.

Training is unpaid, but it is available at no cost to you. Once you complete training and are hired as a Rolling Thunder guide, you will earn a competitive wage as well as tips. As an employee, you may choose to take advantage of our camp-like housing.

Requirements and Responsibilities

Working as a river guide can be very physically and mentally demanding. This is more than a job; it’s a lifestyle. And this lifestyle requires a passionate love for the outdoors as well as tremendous respect for the river. You are expected to be dependable, punctual and to behave in a professional manner both on and off the river.

Guides are required to provide their own river equipment, including:

  • Type V PFD
  • Proper footwear
  • Two carabiners
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • CPR shield

You must also possess First Aid and CPR certifications. As a guide, you will be required to run trips on the river as scheduled and assist with loading and unloading boats from busses. You are also expected to pack equipment and medical kits and unpack after trips, cleaning and putting away river gear appropriately.

As a guide, you will also help guests with fitting of PFD’s wetsuits, boots, etc., and you are expected to provide assistance as needed to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone. This also includes conducting pre-trip safety orientations for guests and helping anywhere, anytime and with anything.

If you are a lover of the great outdoors and would love to make a living doing something you enjoy, consider spending your summers with Rolling Thunder River Company. To apply to work with us, click here to download a printable application.