Experience the seasonal change from lush summer greenery to spectacular fall foliage. Each year, the Smokies become a canvas of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows over a backdrop of forested mountains. The temperature is perfect – warm enough for just a light jacket but cool enough to enjoy outdoor activities comfortably. And you will find no better hosts for your fall getaway than the folks at Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the pioneers of outdoor adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Novices and experts alike will find the level of experience appropriate to their skill level in hiking, white-water rafting, kayaking, treetop adventure nets, zip lining, and mountain biking. The experts at Nantahala Outdoor Center will make sure you get the vacation experiences of a lifetime.
Outdoor Adventures at the NOC
The Nantahala River Rafting: Fully Guided Tour out of Bryson City is a fun family excursion down the iconic Nantahala River. Professional guides ensure the comfort and safety of the rafters, who must be at least 7 years old and weigh at least 60 pounds. The whole trip is 3 hours.
Or, try the Nantahala Adventure Pass with Raft or Duck Rentals. “Duckies” are inflatable kayaks that allow paddlers to guide themselves at their own pace. This tour is designed for the more experienced rafter and kayaker, but if you’re looking to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the river banks, the course is rated easy to moderate.
The NC Great Smoky Mountains are renowned for their hiking trails and the Nantahala Outdoor Center is a stopover on the famous Appalachian Trail. The “AT” is a popular trail for thru hikers looking to take on the challenge of hiking from Georgia all the way to Maine, but its also a great spot for section hikes offering diverse natural flora and fauna, naturally growing herbs, and wildlife. NOC offers lodging, gear, and food for hikers along this section of the AT.
Conveniently located on NOC’s 500-acre main campus in Bryson City, NC, the new Flint Ridge Guided Mountain Biking technical trail features a rolling single track and breathtaking views of the Nantahala Gorge. Designed for bikers 10+ years old, the 4.5-mile trail is moderately difficult and takes 3 to 4 hours to complete.
The world-famous Tsali trail system attracts mountain bikers of all skill levels to the NC Great Smoky Mountains for some extreme sport biking. The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers a Tsali Guided Mountain Biking adventure with experienced guides, top-of-the-line equipment, and even a trail-side snack. Tsali is appropriate for 10+-aged riders and takes between 3 and 4 hours.
Take to the Air with Ziplining and Treetop Adventure Nets
Sail through the air with NOC’s Mountaintop Zip Line Tour. With almost 2 miles of ziplines running from treetop to treetop, race your friends on dueling courses 40 feet up!
Kids aged 3+ can have their own exciting experience with the Treetop Adventure Nets. This fully-netted aerial playground invites participants to navigate their way through tunnels and slides in this ship-themed wonderland.
Want to raft the rapids in the morning and zipline the afternoon away, check out NOC’s Package Deals to combine two or more excursions for a whole day of fun!
The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a village unto itself, giving you few reasons to leave the 500-acre campus. Retail stores and riverside restaurants offer everything you need for a relaxing day in the sun before, during, and after your outdoor adventuring. You can even spend the night at NOC in a cozy mountain cabin, motel, or the hostel-style Basecamp.
Insider Tip: Eat at the River’s End Restaurant and order the Sherpa Rice, the world-famous original recipe of whole-grain brown rice, lentils, and barley topped with seasonal veggies and soy-ginger sauce. Add your choices of protein and additional toppings for a hearty meal that will get you through your full day of outdoor adventures.