If you have spent any time in Western North Carolina you have probably seen or at least heard of the beautiful Nantahala River. The River is a short distance away from the mountain towns of Cherokee, NC and Bryson City, NC and is not far away from the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The River runs along the old Trail of Tears route, which is now United States Highway 19/74. It is fun to drive along the highway and see the rafters down below rafting down the River.
Each Summer, different members of our family look forward to rafting down the scenic Nantahala River. The River is what they call a Class II and is considered moderate difficulty or mild, but exciting. The River remains a Class II until the rafters reach the end of the River, then it becomes a Class III, which means the River is difficult to maneuver through the rapids.
Nantahala River Rapids
The River follows the old Trail of Tears route, which is U.S. Hwy 19/74
Each year a member of our group falls out of the raft usually along the most difficult part of the River, which is at the end of the rafting experience, close to the rapids. A couple of years ago, one of our sons-in-law fell out. Then, at two different times, two of our grandsons have fallen out.
The youngest grandchildren in our family were finally big enough to be able to go down the River this July ... They were thrilled. Federal Law requires children to either weigh at least 60 pounds or be seven years old. All are required to wear a life jacket which will keep them afloat if they do fall out.
All rafters are required to see a safety video before they begin their journey down the River.
In the below photo, in the distance, you can see several boats approaching the rapids.
There is a viewing section where a professional photographer captures all of the rafters just as they are coming through the rapids. Then, back at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, all rafters have the option of purchasing their photos.
We found a place to sit and wait for our family to come around the River bend. We knew they were in a yellow boat, because they were with the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Apparently there are 12 rafting companies operating down the River.
We knew the folks in the blue boat approaching the rapids were not our family.
There were 5 of our grandchildren (three who were rafting down the River for their very first time) plus two of our daughters, and a River guide due to round the River bend at any time. The route down the River is 8 miles long and takes rafters about 3 hours to row down the River. According to our calculations they were due at any time ...
And then, in the below photo, we spotted a yellow boat!
They were far away, but I just knew that was our family coming through!
As they came closer we could see their familiar faces and see the huge smiles!
The youngest grandchildren were doing fine and loving the experience.
It did our hearts good to see the man in the kayak waiting at the rapids. We knew he would help out if one of the younger grandchildren fell from the boat ...
Thank goodness for him!
Here they come! Everyone is doing their rowing jobs, even the little ones!
I zoomed my camera as far as it would zoom as they approached the hardest part of the rapids.
The little ones are still smiling and doing a great job of rowing.
You can see the guide in the back working to get them through the rapids.
He was a medical student working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center for the Summer.
He did a great job!
It was nice to see those huge smiles on their faces.
In the below photo they are coming through the most difficult part, but I still see smiles!
They did come through safely and no one fell out ... But then, the boat was headed for the big rock just past the rapids.
The guide was working really hard giving out instructions as to how to paddle off that rock,
but still no one fell out!
Bumping into the rock turned the boat around,
but the current was so strong they were easily able to turn the boat back around.
And, there they go, almost to the end of the river rafting experience.
Almost everyone gets soaked as they travel down the river. The temperature of the water is consistantly about 50 degrees. So, when the trip was over it was nice to have a warm shower waiting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. There is also a very nice restaurant and picnic tables.
River's End Restaurant
Located at the end of the river rafting trip.
The below photo is from the Internet
After the river rafters had a nice warm shower, we all met at the River's End Restaurant for a delicious dinner together. The youngest grandchildren were proud of themselves for making it down the river without falling out. After dinner we all headed back to the mountain cabin for an evening sitting around the outside bonfire and making S'mores.
There is just nothing like good ole' Summertime! I do hope you too are having a wonderful Summer wherever you may be.