Nantahala Outdoor Center has been offering unforgettable, adventurous fun in western North Carolina for more than fifty years.
Their main campus is located at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Nantahala River. Open since 1972, Nantahala Outdoor Center is the perfect trip for families looking for casual fun and avid outdoor enthusiasts alike.
We were recently invited by Nantahala Outdoor Center to experience all they have to offer while enjoying a stay in one of their onsite cabins. My good friend and I spent 3 days fishing, eating delicious food, and adventuring in the mountains and on the river.
Here is my list of the most important things to keep in mind during your stay.
Tips For Making the Most of Your Time at Nantahala Outdoor Center
Be sure to research what clothing and footwear are required before you book your adventure. For example, our Guided White Water Rafting Tour required secured shoes (such as water shoes, or strapped sandals). My friend was able to rent them at the Adventure Center, but it’s better to come prepared.
The water on the Nantahala is some of the coldest in the region, even in the heat of summer. Along with sunscreen and glasses for the sun, make sure you wear long sleeves to combat the frigid water temperatures while rafting.
We also loved soaring through the sky on the MountainTop Zipline Tour, but were required to have closed toed athletic shoes. Just be aware of what is needed for each of your planned activities and pack accordingly.
There are Plenty of Onsite Amenities to Enjoy
Nantahala Outdoor Center works for a day trip, or a full week’s stay as well! Not only does it provide options for river rafting, kayaking, paddle boards, zip lining, mountain biking and a ropes course but it also has comfortable lodging.
We stayed in Ash Cabin, a close walk to the center of the campus. It was the perfect two bedroom set up and home base for our time there.
Although the cabin included a full kitchen, we didn’t need it thanks to all the delicious dining options around. Big Wesser’s Riverside Pub was a great spot for a quick and delicious outdoor lunch by the water.
River’s End Restaurant is the iconic Nantahala Outdoor Center spot for amazing dishes and stunning views of the river rushing past.
Slow Joe’s, the onsite food truck, was the perfect start to my Sunday morning. They serve hot coffee and mouth watering donuts, along with to go breakfast items.
If you needed anything else, there a convenience store and gift shop, and Bryson City is a quick drive down the road.
Get Ready For an Adventure!
Whether you are looking for thrills on the river or dry land, Nantahala Outdoor Center has you covered. No matter what adventure you choose, you will need to check in at the Adventure Center about 30 minutes before your scheduled start time.
While there, employees can give you important information about meeting locations, what to bring and what not to bring. They also make sure you have all of your waivers completed so you can focus on having fun.
For example, they helped us find the meeting spot for our Lake Fontana Kayak and Paddleboard (which was more confusing than we would have thought).
We also met our rafting instructor and Ziplining guides, who covered important safety training and guidelines. Our rafting instructor, Big Joe, absolutely made the trip. Super nice guy who has been guiding rafting tours for over a decade. He is a local to the area and was able to provide so many interesting facts about the wildlife and plants. No matter who your rafting guide is, you will be in capable hands. Be sure to tip them for their services!
If you are looking for a unique family vacation or adventure, look no further than Nantahala Outdoor Center. I can’t wait to go back with Megan and the boys. Check out their website for suggestions on what to bring on your trip.