The Nantahala river is a scenic whitewater river that is full of great views and also offers some thrills. Nantahala is a Cherokee word which, when translated into English, means land of the noon day sun. the river is called Nantahala because of the steep walls of the gorge. The walls are so steep that some parts of the river only get direct sunlight for the middle part of the day. The Nantahala river is a relatively short river that runs from Lake Nantahala to Lake Fontana. The section that is actually rafted is on the last eight miles of the river. The sections above the commercially rafted section are popular fly fishing spots. There are also scheduled releases for whitewater kayakers who want some class IV-V thrills. The section that is commercially rafted is only class II with one class III at the very end of the run. This river is great for kids and first time whitewater rafters. Kids must be at least sixty pounds to be allowed to raft river. The water is colder than fifty degrees year round due to the fact that it is sucked from the bottom of the four hundred foot deep Lake Nantahala. This water will give you a wake up call when you round the first turn and splash through Patton’s Run.
Rafting The Nantahala In May
When you raft the Nantahala river in May you can warm air temperatures ranging from the high sixties to the low eighties depending on the year. The weather can be very unpredictable with pop up thunderstorms being common this time of year. Just check the weather before booking your trip. By this point in the season the trees are fully leaved and the river traffic starts to pick up. You will start to encounter numerous whitewater kayakers making the run down the river. The river will not be as busy as in June or July but it will be noticeably busier than April. If you want to whitewater raft the Nantahala River in may, some outfitters offer discounts if you book your trip before memorial day. Peak season starts memorial day weekend which is May 30th. Rafting in may is a great vacation idea if you are looking to float down the river and just enjoy the ride. Depending on the day you could also go for a swim to cool off. It is all up to you.
When searching for lodging in the mountains of western North Carolina you have a few different options. If you want to stay in a rental cabin, there are hundreds of options within range of the Nantahala gorge. The area surrounding Nantahala is full of beautiful cabins to suit any desire or price range. Another great option is camping there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from that are inside the gorge and just outside of it. Each campground offers a different camping experience. The weather in May is perfect for camping; with lows in the low fifties camping is a real possibility. Rain showers are common so bring a tarp to put over your tent to keep extra dry, or just bring a camper if you have one.