Fodor's Expert Review Nantahala River
The most popular river in western North Carolina for rafting and kayaking is the Nantahala, which races through the scenic Nantahala Gorge, a 1,600-foot-deep gorge that begins about 13 miles west of Bryson City on U.S. Route 19. Class III and Class IV rapids (Class V are the most dangerous) make for a thrilling ride. A number of outfitters run river trips or rent equipment. At several points along the river you can park your car and watch rafters run the rapids—on a summer day you'll see hundreds of rafts and kayaks going by.