The World Famous Nantahala Outdoor Center and Nantahala Gorge

Categories: AttractionsAdventure


Traveling to the Smokies? If you are looking for things to do in Bryson City, NC the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) offers fun for adventurers of all ages.  It is conveniently located only a scenic 20 mile drive from town.  Guests can also make their way to NOC by train on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad(link). Founded in 1972 the NOC headquarters are positioned at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River.  The 500 acre adventure center provides a variety of outdoor activities, shopping, and dining.


There are so many great options for outdoor activities at the NOC.  Enjoy stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains while flying along the zip line canopy tours as high as 600 feet above the river. For a slightly less daring areal adventure visit the zip line adventure park with 16 different elements including a dual zip line.  NOC is best known for its white water rafting and they offer packages for all different skill levels.  The river provides class I – III rapids along with areas of flatwater, perfect for rafts, kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. All around you can hear laughter and shouts of joy mix with the sound of the flowing water. Be sure to also take time to relax on the banks of the Nantahala River, dip your toes in the cool water, and watch the white water kayakers practice their skills. NOC is proud to have been the training ground for 22 Olympians, two of whom earned gold medals.  Other recreational activities include hiking, biking, and wilderness training.  
All of the outdoor activities can really build an appetite.  Thankfully, NOC has two restaurants for visitors to enjoy.  River’s End Restaurant sits along the edge of the river and affords guests great views of kayakers and rafters maneuvering down the river.  The menu has a variety of American style food including my personal favorite the Sherpa rice.  Big Wesser BBQ & Brew is a delicious casual restaurant with a great variety of local beers.  The outdoor seating and live music every Friday and Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day creates the perfect atmosphere for fun and relaxation.  In addition to the restaurants the Nantahala River campus has four retail stores where visitors can shop.  The flagship NOC Outfitters Store has two stories of gear, apparel, shoes, and accessories for all types of outdoor adventures.
This area also offers some of the best views in the Smoky Mountains.  The Nantahala River has cut a path through the Great Smoky Mountains called the Nantahala River Gorge.  The gorge has 5,000 foot high peaks on each side covered by lush rainforests.  The river eventually flows into the picturesque Fontan Lake, another of the most scenic places in the Smoky Mountains.  Next time you are looking for fun things to do in North Carolina take a ride over to the NOC.  No matter which activities you choose you are certain to have a great adventure and make wonderful memories.  For other suggestions visit our Area Info page, and Top 10 List.  Be sure to tag Smoky Mountain Life in your posts so we can see what great adventures you are having!


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