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A Choice of Whitewater Or Flat Water Kayaking

Western North Carolina is home to hundreds of miles of whitewater rivers and mountain lakes making it a favorite destination for kayakers.

For whitewater enthusiasts the variety of rivers from Class I to Class V, offers great options for kayak instruction for all skill levels. You will find adventure seekers, families learning to kayak together and Olympic-bound athletes all enjoying the rivers and lakes of our area. 

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking beautiful scenery and glimpses of wildlife, the flat water trails through the mountain lakes of western North Carolina offer all that and more. The rivers and lakes and the availability of quality kayak instruction are what has given Bryson City the title of “the Whitewater Capital.”

The book “101 Best Outdoor Towns” named Bryson City the nation’s third best whitewater paddling town. “If you can’t find something exciting to do in Bryson City, you’re not breathing,” it says.

Paddler Magazine named Bryson City one of the “best paddling towns” in the US. Along with the multiple spots for great paddling, they focus on Tsali mountain bike trails, area adventure races and canoe camping on Fontana Lake.

Check out our “Think Outside the Gym” 2-day vacation itinerary that includes kayaking.

Click or tap for more fun activities on the water near Bryson City.


Bryson City. A River Runs Through It.

If you have a kayak, don’t overlook the Tuckasegee.

  • Bryson City Outdoors Kayaking

    Rent a sit-on kayak to enjoy at Almond Boat Park on beautiful Fontana Lake! Our kayaks are very beginner friendly and even hold multiple people to make for a great family adventure! Guided kayak tours are available and can be combined with a hiking tour! Online reservations available, or give us a call.
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center

    Nantahala Outdoor Center’s main campus is located at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River, just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A mecca for outdoor enthusiasts since 1972, NOC’s 500-acre adventure campus boasts plenty of excitement to keep your entire group happy and active, whether you spend the day or a week! Whitewater raft, zipline, mountain bike and hike, and explore Lake Fontana in a rental kayak or SUP. In between adventures, check out NOC’s two riverfront restaurants, onsite shopping, and spend the night in a cozy trailside cabin!
  • Endless River Adventures

    Offers whitewater rafting on the Nantahala, Cheoah, and Ocoee Rivers. Ocoee rafting package includes transportation from our Nantahala Outpost, saving you the extra driving. We offer kayak instruction from the beginner to advanced level.  Our guided fly fishing trips include float trips on the Nantahala River.  We have an outfitters store located in the Nantahala Gorge with outdoor equipment and fly fishing.  We also specialize in Whitewater and EcoAdventure Trips to Ecuador.
  • Carolina Bound Adventures Kayaking

    Are you booking guided kayaking and paddle boarding and other adventures while you're here on vacation? Or just looking to rent a paddle board or kayak? Then save your time and sanity by doing it all on one website!  Our adventure planning and reservation concierge service consolidates your vacation research and planning in one place. Visit our website, choose your desired adventures and we’ll make the reservations plus set up your itinerary – it’s that easy! We are on the lake from March 1 to Thanksgiving, but we’ll go out any time of the year, so give us a call.
  • Nantahala River Gorge – Home of the 2013 World Freestyle Kayak Championships

    Video recap of the championship finals

    Swain County’s Nantahala River Gorge has secured its reputation as a world-class whitewater venue by hosting the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships. The Gorge was selected by the International Canoe Federation, the sanctioning body for all world championship and Olympic canoe and kayak events.

    The Championship Wave feature on the Nantahala River (created for the World Championships) is attracting kayakers and spectators alike. Stop by the River for a look at the wave feature in action. And for kayakers, it’s a free park and play area.

    Bryson City - Swain County
    Chamber of Commerce

    P.O. Box 509
    Bryson City, NC 28713

    Karen Proctor
    Executive Director


    Visitor Guide pages

    Order a free Visitor Guide featuring Bryson City and the North Carolina Smokies