For families, outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers alike, Jackson County’s four whitewater rivers are sure to deliver with difficulty ranging from Class I to Class IV.
Whether you’re looking for action-packed rafting on the Tuckasegee, a wild and scenic ride down the Chattooga, a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Oconaluftee, or the perfect beginners’ course on the Nantahala, you simply can’t go wrong with a day on the rapids in Jackson county. A number of local companies are available to rent rafts, canoes, kayaks and tubes. And you can choose from a solo trek or a guided trip with a seasoned rafting expert.
The Tuckasegee River flows through scenic mountain valleys and several quaint communities and is the most prominent whitewater river in Jackson County. During the summer months, the Lake Glenville Dam releases whitewater into the west fork of the Tuckasegee River, creating class IV rapids over a 5.5-mile stretch. Release dates for 2017 are April 8 and 9, June 10, July 1, July 22, August 12 and August 26. Information on Glenville Dam releases and the whitewater conditions can be found here.
Smoky Mountain River adventures is provides white water rafting for the whole family, including children as small as 40lbs. They rent inflatable kayaks for one or two people, as well as rafts. You may choose to have a river guide to help tame the rapids or have your own adventure! smokymountainriveradventures.com
Tuckaseegee Outfitters allows for five-mile solo or guided trips from Dillsboro to their outfitters at Barkers Creek Crossing. The rafting trip follows the “S” curve of the Tuck, and the rapids are beginner and family-friendly. Float trips last about 2-3 hours. The first few miles of the river flows in and around several islands and toward the end of the trip, rapids pick up speed and appear closer together. Rafting trips including kayaks, tubes or rafts range from $12 to $30 per person. Tuckaseegee Outfitters are open from May through September. www.raftnc.com
The Chattooga River starts at the base of Whiteside Mountain in Jackson County, southwest of Cashiers. This wild and scenic river stretches 57 miles and is a tributary of the Tugaloo River. Most of the whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River can be found south of Jackson County in western South Carolina and northeast Georgia.
The Oconaluftee River is known as one of the cleanest, clearest whitewater rivers in the Southeast. The river starts at Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains and flows through downtown Cherokee, NC.
Cherokee Rapids offers whitewater tubing on the Class I and II rapids of the Oconaluftee River. The shuttle service takes you two miles up-river, and you float back to the outpost. Along the way, stop to enjoy swimming holes, rapids, and a rope swing. Tubing is only $10 per person and family-friendly. www.cherokeerapids.com
The Nantahala River is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the country and is great for beginners. The northern section of the Nantahala River is located near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 8.5-mile stretch from Beecher-town Power Plant to Fontana Lake offers almost-continuous Class II and III whitewater rapids.
Take to the whitewater with Carolina Outfitters’ trips on the Nantahala or Ocoee River.
Choose from guide-assisted, guide-in-boat, or unguided trips on the river’s Class II, III, and IV whitewater. The river is fun and exciting, but does not require previous experience. Rafting trips range from $18 to $34 per person. The Carolina Outfitters post is just 1 hour from Jackson County. www.carolinaoutfitters.com