The Nantahala River flows through a deep gorge in the Nantahala National Forest located in western North Carolina on the outskirts of Bryson City, NC. The Nantahala Gorge has become an outdoorsman’s paradise with hiking, mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, and white water sports, rafting being the most popular. The world famous Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River and offers great hikes up to Wayah Bald and Wesser Bald. The Nantahala River has been the training grounds for many world class kayakers and Olympians.
The Nantahala Gorge is in the middle of what is considered the Appalachian culture. Fifty years ago, the people in the area were considered poor but very full of life and culture. It is often said by the old timers that “we did not know we were poor until someone came and told us we were.” Today there is an active effort to preserve the mountain culture. To keep gardening, banjo music, and the mountain dialect alive. A lot of this culture is easy to see and hear in the Nantahala area and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers an abundance of outdoor activities to suit all ages. Area hiking trails include the Appalachian Trail, Deep Creek Waterfall Loop, Andrews Bald Trail, Bartram Trail, and Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail (about a 45 minute drive from Bryson City NC).
Outside of white water rafting, Fontana Lake is a mecca for water sports and activities: swimming, boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and skiing. Fontana Lake is only a few miles from the Nantahala River.
Scenic tours and drives are a must do in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City NC offers a variety of train excursions for everyone. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a breathtaking scenic drive that you don’t want to miss.
And if you can’t get enough of the great outdoors even when you dine, there are plenty of places that have outside dining or dining with a view: Rivers End Restaurant, Pizza by the River, Big Wesser Riverside Pub, Mountain Perks, Village Bistro, and so many more. Be sure to check for restaurant opening dates and times before you head out.
If nature and adventure are what you are looking for, then you will find the Nantahala Gorge to be paradise.