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Rafting in North Carolina & Tennessee – PART 3

In our final installment of our Rafting in NC & TN series, we are going to cover the beautiful and inviting Watauga River. Want to reread our first two chapters? Check them out here:

Part 1

Part 2

This river stretches from Western North Carolina to Tennessee.  It travels over 60 miles, beginning at the base of the Grandfather Mountain in Watauga County, North Carolina. It also travels through Tennessee in Johnson County and is impounded by the TVA at the Watauga Dam, creating the Watauga Lake.  Through the 60 miles that this river travels,  many dam and tributaries are present – thriving off of the strong flow of the Watauga.

Similar to many other rivers in the area, the Watauga has strong Native American roots. The Cherokee tribe named the river, as Watagua translates to “beautiful river” or “beautiful water”. Throughout history, the Cherokee tribe and many settlers, including Daniel Boone, stayed close to the water as a strong source of life and direction. Over time, the river became an increasingly important part of the industry of the area. This became especially true when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) started to utilize the waters of the river to create a strong source of hydroelectric power, with the Wilbur Dam. The TVA works hard to maintain certain water levels, and to this day, the dam has a controlled release schedule.

Similar to many other rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee, there are tons of recreational opportunities on the water. Some of these activities include white water rafting (duh!), fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Whitewater rafting trips on the river usually span for 2-3 hours, depending on the class of water. Many different levels are available, so there is something for every rafter! In the spring, when the seasonal rains arrive, Class IV- V rapids are available for the veteran rafter. In addition, the controlled release of the dams enables rafting outfitters to utilize the power of the dam to fulfill their rafting trips!

We hope you have enjoyed our exploration of these rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee! Are there any rivers that you would like to travel to? Or rivers that you think we should explore? Let us know in a comment below!

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