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White Water Rafting Tennessee - Nolichucky River

Family Adventure White Water Rafting in Tennessee

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If you are intrigued by the opportunity of a unique family-friendly adventure in an incredibly beautiful wilderness setting, white water rafting in Tennessee on the Nolichucky River is a great choice. It’s an incredible experience that’s perfectly suited for everyone from ages 4-years old through adult and provides just the right amount of excitement for the entire family.

The Nolichucky River in Tennessee

The Nolichucky River is conveniently located northeastern Tennessee, just a hop, skip and a jump from the northwestern areas of North Carolina such as Asheville. This location provides some of the greatest and most scenic white water rafting in the Southeastern U.S.

The Nolichucky River runs through a deep gorge between Erwin, Tennessee and North Carolina’s Black Mountains, and it includes rapids, ranging from a class I to class IV, that are perfectly suited for all ages and experience levels.

The Upper Nolichucky has 25 named rapids, ranging from class II to class IV, stretches along nine miles of pristine wilderness, and offers a challenging adventure for ages 10 and over. The Lower Nolichucky provides a calmer rafting journey and more mellow rapids, perfectly suited for anyone over 4-years old who may not be quite as adventurous. The Nolichucky River is the perfect white water rafting choice in Tennessee for every age group and adventure level.

We decided to voyage on the Nolichucky River because of its secluded natural environment and the fact that it offers a far less crowded experience than the Tennessee’s other white water rafting options. The Nolichucky River is a major stream draining the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and East Tennessee and is home to the South’s deepest river gorge at 3,000 feet. The river’s scenery is dominated by tall mountain peaks, ranging from 3,100 to 5,200 feet, and the vicinity provides nearly 11,000 acres of remote back country.

Believe me when I say that it might likely be the most beautiful, unadulterated wilderness I have ever experienced. In fact, once you are rafting in the gorge, the only way out is to hike along a railroad track beside the river or continue on through the water. It is a one-of-a-kind, picturesque location.

White water rafting Tennessee - Nolichucky River

A glimpse of the natural splendor surrounding the Nolichucky River Gorge – breathtaking.

White Water Rafting Options

Because I’m big on researching my travel adventures far in advance of my trip and because I highly respect and appreciate the opinions of those adventurers who have gone before me, we chose to go with a company called USA Raft for several reasons.

First of all, there are only a handful of companies that provide guided white water rafting trips down the Nolichucky River. Every review I read on Trip Advisor touted USA Raft as a top-notch operation with well-trained guides, who focused on safety yet made the experience fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. I can personally say our adventure lived up to the hype!

I also loved the fact that USA Raft offered multiple options for both the Upper and Lower Nolichucky River, like a half-day trip or a full day that includes lunch, as well as different raft options, such as traditional rafts or self-paddled ducks. They even offer a two-day, overnight experience, complete with tents, sleeping bags and prepared meals for those who are ready to be fully immersed in all that the Nolichucky River area has to offer. And all at very reasonable prices. Double score!

Our Experience White Water Rafting in Tennessee

We decided to go with the Upper Nolichucky Gorge full-day package with lunch (for those ages 10 and older). Although we felt adventurous, we were also new to the concept of white water rafting, and it was a perfect choice.

Our journey began at the USA Raft outpost where we got suited up. The company provided all of the necessary safety equipment, including a life jacket and helmet for each participant, as well as other options like water booties, wetsuits and industrial-type splash gear for those who aren’t crazy about being drenched.

We took a short drive to our drop-off location. During the ride our guides went over all of the important safety information, answered any questions or concerns that came to mind, and then we hit the water with a splash!

The best way to describe the experience is by saying it was about five hours of thrilling, chilling (that water is cold) and incredibly fun adventure in one of the most beautifully scenic and preserved areas ever imaginable. When we weren’t being pumped with excitement from conquering rapids, we were calmly floating and being enveloped by all of the natural beauty of the environment.

It was awe-inspiring and adrenaline-pumping all rolled into one and we loved it! In fact, it made such an impact, we are now trying to figure out how and when we can go back to conquer the two-day, overnight adventure.

Yep, it was that good. You and your family should try it, too!

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Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….

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