Whitewater rafting near Boone, Whitewater rafting near Banner Elk, Whitewater rafting near Blowing Rock

Whitewater Rafting in the High Country

Your Guide to Whitewater Rafting in the High Country

There are so many opportunities for adventure when you visit North Carolina’s High Country. Zipline through the forest treetops, hike the natural terrain or partake in an adventure on the water. In the High Country, thrilling rapids call to you for an adrenaline-filled experience. Summertime is the perfect opportunity to brave the rapids on a whitewater rafting adventure.

Types of Rapids in the High Country

Rapids are given a difficulty rating. As you choose which rapids you want to whitewater raft, keep this rating in mind. Some are best for new rafters while more experienced rafters will love the thrill that comes with more difficulty.

Below are rapid classifications/levels.

Class A: Still lake water with no movement.

Class I: Water moves in small waves.

Class II: Easy rapids of up to three feet tall in wide channels.

Class III: Waves up to four feet tall in narrow passages.

Class IV: Long rapids through narrow passages and turbulent water. Careful and strong maneuvering is required.

Class V: Large and complex rapids that twist and spin rafters. These take rafters over big drops and through violent currents.

Class VI: Recommended only for expert rafters. Most whitewater rafting companies don’t take rafters to these given the extraordinary difficulty.

In the High Country, class II, III, IV and V rapids are most common on whitewater rafting trips.

Whitewater Rafting Outfitters

There are several sport outfitters in North Carolina’s High Country that will take you to some of the best rapids in the area. With the guidance of knowledgeable instructors, you can have a memorable experience on the rapids. These companies also have experiences catered to different age levels and athletic abilities.

River and Earth Adventures rafting
Image from River & Earth Adventures

Here are some of our favorite whitewater rafting outfitters.

Take a ride through the rivers of Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone with River & Earth Adventures. They offer a variety of whitewater rafting trips, perfect for all ages and experience levels. The whole family will love an exciting cruise down the class II and III rapids of the Watauga River. For more thrill, book the Watauga Gorge Ex-Stream Whitewater which is five miles of class III, IV and V rapids.

River & Earth also offers float trips and whitewater rafting along the French Broad. The full-day whitewater rafting trip takes rafters through the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. This journey is filled with class III and IV rapids that offer an unforgettable experience. For a more relaxing experience, choose the family-friendly float. During this trip, you can view the mountain ranges, wildflowers and even wildlife.

High Mountain Expeditions blends scenic views, Native American history and the thrills of the rapids on their whitewater rafting trips. Choose from half-day, full-day or two-day rafting adventures on the Nolichucky River, Watauga River or Wilson Creek. Each trip offers a different experience and different classes of rapids ranging from I to V.

A premier outfitter for water activities in the High Country, Wahoo’s Adventures offers three different rafting trips. The Watauga River Rafting trip, along class I, II and III rapids, is perfect for all ages. Step it up a bit with class III and IV rapids on the Nolichucky River. Thrill seekers won’t want to miss the class V rapids on the Wilson Creek Extreme Rafting trip.