The Nantahala River, known as the Nanty to locals, has two put-ins located on the west end of the river: the USFS launch site, located at the intersection of Hwy 19/74 and Wayah Road (State Road 1310) and the private, Duke Power put-in, leased by the Nantahala Gorge Association, located just up Wayah Road and over the bridge. The Nantahala River is managed by the USFS and all boaters must pay as daily users fee of $5 or they can purchase a yearly pass for $25. Passes may be purchased at Adventurous Fast Rivers (828) 488-2386, Endless River Adventures (828) 488-6199 or the Nantahala Outdoor Center (828) 488-2175.

According to Nealy, the riverbed gradient averages 38 feet per mile, over 8 miles. The rapids are rated using the International scale of I to VI. Most rapids are Class I and II, with a couple Class II-IIIs and one Class VI (Wesser Falls). There are approx 13-15 named rapids, depending on which book or river map you consult.

The first significant rapid, 100 yards below the put-in at Mile .02, is Patton's Run, named for Charlie Patton, an avid paddler of the Nantahala despite the fact he had limited use of one arm. Charlie passed away, one day after paddling the Nanty. This rapid, rated a class II-III, should be run river right avoiding the slightly submerged rocks on river left. *There have been two drownings at this particular rapid, both foot entrapment as rafters left the comfort of their boats and attempted to walk across the rocks. There are several undercut rocks on river left. It is highly recommended you scout this rapid, it is easily scouted from the road.

Just below Patton's Run are Tumble Dry and Raft Trap. Aptly named, there is just enough room for a raft to be stuck between the two rocks at Raft Trap. If a raft pins here, it will have to be deflated, to be removed.

Also between Patton's Run and Ferebee Park, an alternate put-in, are the rapids Isle of Dumping, Pop'N Run and Pyramid Rock; all Class II rapids.
Following Ferebee Park, which is located at Mile 3.0, are: Delebars Rock (Mile 3.1), a play spot - Quarry Rapid (Mile 3.5), Root Canal, the wave at Whirlpool (Mile 4.5), Ledges, Little SOB, Blowing Springs, Picnic Rock (Mile 5.5), the play wave at Surfing Rapid (Mile 4.7), 4 Eddy Rapid (where the concrete bridge crosses the river), Devil Kitchen Caves and The Bump at Mile 7.4 is a couple of waves with a mid-size hole at the bottom. The next rapid, Nantahala Falls, a Class III/IV at high water levels, is a favorite play spot, located at Mile 7.8. Be sure to take out after Nantahala Falls. There is a developed, concrete takeout here, with a new Bridge downstream. If you pass the take out, particularly if you are in a raft, you may run Wesser Falls - very bad idea. Wesser Falls, a rapid created by the railroad, is full of sharp rocks and has a large hole at the bottom. It is considered a Class VI.

Release Schedule
Nantahala FS Regulations

Guided Trips
Raft & Duckie Rentals
Raft'N Rail®

Nantahala River
Upper Nantahala River
Little Tennessee
Calderwell Resevoir
Wilson's Creek