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. Here you will find individual adventure seekers, families learning to kayak together and Olympic-bound athletes all training and enjoying the rivers of our area.

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking verdant 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 Swain County 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.

Kayaking Outfitters

Bryson City Outdoors Kayaking

Contact: Ben King or Brett Hackshaw


169 Main Street

Bryson City, NC 28713

Phone 828-342-6444

Rent a sit-on kayak in downtown Bryson City on the river or nearby 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!

Fontana Guide Service - Kayaking

Contact: Kyle Fronrath


3336 Balltown Rd.

Bryson City, NC 28713

Mobile 828-736.2318

Local 828-488-9793

Fontana Guide Service - Kayaking Let us show you the Great Smoky Mountains from the water. Half and full day fishing or touring trips available, or customize your own. Our professional guides provide river & lake trips from our Jackson kayaks & paddle boards year round. A quiet & relaxing way to enjoy sunsets, waterfalls, fall colors & wildlife. Double-seated kayaks available. We provide everything & accommodate any age or skill level. HD photos & videos of your trip available upon request.

Nantahala Outdoor Center


13077 Hwy 19 W

Bryson City, NC 28713

Local 828-488-6900

TF 800-232-7238

Fax 828-488-0301

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Rated "One of the Best Outfitter's on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure, NOC has been the leader in the rafting industry since 1972. NOC offers family friendly adventures rafting and paddling the Nantahala River, as well as riverside dining, lodging, shopping, mountain bike rentals, lake kayaking, wilderness medicine training and our world famous Paddling School. There's something for everyone so come see for yourself why NOC is a legend in the outdoors!

Endless River Adventures


14157 Hwy 19 W

Bryson City, NC 28713

View Additional Addresses

Phone 828-488-6199

TF 800-224-RAFT

Fax 828-488-2259

Offers whitewater rafting on the Nantahala, Cheoah, and Ocoee Rivers. Ocoee rafting package includes transportation from our Nantahala Outpost, saving you the extra driving. Kayak instruction from the beginner to advanced level and kayak/mountain bike trips to Costa Rica and Ecuador. Lake touring offered for half-and full-day trips. Also, fly fishing instruction & guide service with drift boat option.


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.