In this current age of electronics, A/C, on-demand television shows, and an aversion to sweat and bugs, how do you get the family excited about outdoor activities? How about some fun, yet simple, kayaking trips? I have found kayaking to be one of the greatest opportunities to get outside, get some exercise, much-needed vitamin-D, and to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Kayaking offers the mobility of a boat without the high maintenance. It also offers some exercise with a little more respite than swimming. The perfect happy medium.
Here in Western North Carolina, there are a variety of places to put the kayaks in the water; some require parking and a boat ramp, while others might require two cars and a little more logistical planning, but each one is unique and worth the effort.
Let’s explore the top 10 best North Carolina mountains family-friendly kayaking and canoeing activities, and make sure to notice the other adventure options such as fly fishing, zip lining, and paddle boarding; you might end up trying something that wasn’t even on your radar!
10 Great North Carolina Mountains Family-friendly Kayaking and Canoeing Activities
10 – NC Outdoor Adventures- NCOA offers over 21 different types of trips including but not limited to kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, and edible plants walkabouts. This family-owned company is perfect for exploring our Western North Carolina mountains and all their diversity.
9 – Wahoo’s adventures- This award-winning outpost boasts adventures in and out of the water as well as… treehouse camping! Not only that, but they offer showers, catered meals, and an on-site store. Their experienced staff can handle the youngest of adventurers on up to the most seasoned veterans.
8 – French Broad Outfitters- Boasting to be the only full-service outfitter in the Asheville area, French Broad Outfitters offers kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and tubing trips along the historic French Broad River. They have plenty of rental equipment and along your route, you can sneak a peek at the gorgeous, historic Biltmore Estate.
7 – Nantahala Outdoor Center- The New York Times has called NOC the “Nation’s Premiere Paddling School”. They offer both water and land-based activities. The NOC offers ziplining tours as well as a zipline obstacle course. NOC is a household name all along this area including parts of Georgia. Come see what makes Olympians want to call NOC home.
6 – Asheville Outdoor Center- If you’re looking for something a little more calm, check out the family-friendly activities offered by the Asheville Outdoor Center. They offer a leisurely 7-mile canoe, kayak, SUP (stand-up paddle boarding), or raft paddle down the French Broad River and through the Biltmore Estate. The perfect way to relax and get outside while you’re in western NC.
5 – Endless River Adventures- In addition to kayaking and whitewater rafting, Endless River Adventures gets you out for a little fly fishing. They have excursions that help you explore three different rivers and have winter options that involve Costa Rica and Ecuador. Make sure you check out all the options they have to offer.
4 – Edge of the World- A family-owned and operated outfit, Edge of the World not only takes advantage of the amazing rapids and whitewater rafting opportunities, but they are experts in Climbing and Rappelling as well. So if you’re looking for a little more gravity-defying adventure, make sure you make it to the Edge of the World.
3 – Green River Adventures- No matter your age or skill level, Green River Adventures has got you covered. Their trips cover rapids from class 1 to class 4, they’ll teach you to rappel near a waterfall, and get you up on the paddle boards. Make sure you check out the variety of activities offered by Green River Adventures.
2 – Smoky Mountain River Adventures- These guys want to get you out on the river in large and small groups. In addition to the traditional, guided, whitewater rafting, they’ll also offer you a blow-up kayak that you can take out on your own or with your very own guide. Young’uns as small as 40 lbs can find adventure with Smoky Mountain River Adventures.
1- Headwaters Outfitters Outdoor Adventures- If you’re looking for year-round fly-fishing in addition to your kayaking adventure, this is your place. They have spots all around Western North Carolina that will meet your outdoor needs including tubing, paddling, and guided fly-fishing trips. Check it out and plan your next outdoor adventure.
Once you pick your outdoor adventure, make sure to think about a few accessories that might make your trip more enjoyable.
- Sunscreen because our skin should NOT be taken for granted
- Sunglasses for your viewing comfort
- Water- it’s easy to let yourself get dehydrated if you’re not careful.
- Waterproof “dry bags”- especially for kayaking trips; these are great for keeping things dry like extra clothes, sunscreen, phones, snacks, etc.
- Lanyard waterproof phone case; we like to document our adventures via photos and videos.. But be careful. Maybe only do this while it’s calm and not while you’re navigating a small rapid!