Area Activities

Falling Waters Nantahala

When you stay at Falling Waters Nantahala, you’re within walking distance of a variety of activities and within driving distance of even more! You can go rafting, ziplining, take a Jeep® tour, visit quaint Bryson City, mountain bike the Tsali Trail, kayak or canoe on Fontana Lake, hike numerous trails, or simply enjoy the gorgeous scenery from a comfortable chair. Scenic drives through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway are less than an hour away.

Walk from your lodging right to the zipline course. A new KidZip zipline in 2015 for ages 4 to 12 means even the youngest adventurers can fly through the trees!


Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours


Our 13 zips and 8 sky bridges combine for over 1/2 mile of high-flying fun on our newest adventure activity. Our new KidZip opens up the joys of ziplining to ages 4-12! Both zipline courses are located on site near your lodging.


More Canopy Tours in NC, SC & TN


Love zipping through the trees? We have 4 more full-length canopy zipline tours in NC, SC & TN, within 1 to 2 hours of Falling Waters Nantahala. Multiple sky bridges, dual zips, and much more are waiting for you!

Just steps away from the Nantahala River or take a short, scenic drive to the Olympic Ocoee River and the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River for additional great rafting opportunities.


Wildwater Nantahala Rafting

Gentle floats or roaring rapids right outside your door. Wildwater provides fully guided and rental trips on the Nantahala River. Its 8 miles of constant waves, swift, clear currents, and magnificent scenery provide an exhilarating introduction to whitewater rafting. Rapids such as the Whirlpool, the Bump, and Nantahala Falls provide just enough excitement. Our Adventure Center is located just across the street from Falling Waters Nantahala.


More Rafting in SC & TN

Want to experience more great rafting trips? Wildwater was the very first rafting company in the Southeast, and we also run rafting trips on the Pigeon and Ocoee rivers in Tennessee, and on the National Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in South Carolina, at the border of South Carolina and Georgia.

Nantahala Jeep® Tours

Enjoy views from the top before you disembark from the train and climb aboard our customized Jeep® for a personal exploration up the mountain, past waterfalls and lakes, up to the Appalachian Trail and back.

Spend a beautiful day in the Nantahala Gorge with Wildwater and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Scenic steam and diesel excursions, daily into Nantahala Gorge.  Combine your train ride with whitewater rafting, a canopy zipline tour, or a Jeep® Tour for twice the fun!

  • Nantahala Raft & Rail© – Nantahala Rafting and Train Ride
  • Rails and Trails  – Jeep® Tour and Train Ride
  • Nantahala Tarzan Train – Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours and Train Ride


Close to numerous trails, big and small, including the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail and the many trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!


Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian National Trail (AT) is a 2,158-mile footpath along the ridge crests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in central Maine to Springer Mountain in north Georgia. The AT can be accessed in the Nantahala River Gorge. Activities include short- and long-distance hiking, backpacking, bird and wildlife watching, and other backcountry recreation. Permits are not required to walk the AT, but overnight camping permits are necessary in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Three-sided shelters are provided every 10-12 miles. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River only a few miles from Falling Waters.


Bartram Trail

The NC Bartram Trail crosses some of the most scenic mountains of the state, with many side trails leading to views of the Blue Ridge and the Smokies. The trail enters North Carolina just south of Highlands and curves in a north-to-west direction through western North Carolina. At Franklin, the trail turns west and ascends the Nantahala Mountains to Wayah Bald, which at 5,385 feet, is the highest point on the trail. The trail joins the Appalachian Trail briefly, then descends to Nantahala Lake. The Bartram Trail starts at the Nantahala River at the put-in, so you can explore it easily while in the Nantahala Gorge.


Laurie’s Trail

You can also walk along Laurie’s Trail, a paved path that follows the right side of Nantahala River from Winding Stairs Road up to the Nantahala put-in, offering a flat, paved pathway great for strollers, bikes, inline skates, and easy walking. It ends where the Bartram Trail starts from the Nantahala River at the put-in area.


For more information, contact:

Wayah Ranger Station 704-524-6441 on US 64 W. of Franklin, NC
Guided Hiking Trips
American Hikes
(828) 488-6688

Mountain Biking

Hundreds of miles of exciting trails, including the internationally known Tsali Recreation Area mountain biking trail system.


Tsali Recreation Area

Tsali is one of the premier mountain biking areas in the country, awarded one of the top 10 single track trails in the U.S. numerous times. Don’t have your own bike? Rent high-performance mountain bikes from Bryson City Bicycles, only 15 minutes from your lodging at Falling Waters.

Bryson City Bicycles

Rated America’s Best Bike Shops by NBDA
Bike Rentals, Gear, Apparel & Full-Service Repair Shop
157 Everett Street
Bryson City, NC 28713
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-8

Tubing & Float Trips (under 40 lbs.)

Deep Creek, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is only 15 minutes away from Falling Waters. Head into Bryson City and out the northeast side into the GSMNP’s Deep Creek area. You’ll pass several tubing companies ready to rent you a tube for an hour or a day. Park at the Deep Creek Trailhead and walk up as far along the creek as you want to go, before jumping in with your tube and friends. The cold, clear waters of Deep Creek are incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day in the Smokies!


Deep Creek Tube Center



Spectacular trout and bass fishing in streams and lakes. Fontana Lake has over 600 miles of shoreline. The area around the Nantahala Gorge provides ample fishing opportunities whether it be bass fishing on scenic Fontana Lake and Nantahala Lake or fly-fishing for trout on the premier streams of the Great Smokies. Bring your fishing rod and try your luck at catching the record trout.

Endless River Adventures

Guided Fishing Trips, Instruction and Full-Service Fly Shop
Located 20 yards from great fishing in the middle of Nantahala Gorge!
14157 US Highway 19/74 West
Bryson City, NC 28713

Horseback Riding

In nearby Cherokee, just inside the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can enjoy horseback riding in the Smokies.

Smokemont Riding Stables
135 Smokemont Riding Stables Rd
Cherokee, NC 28719
Hours: Open 9-5, 7 days a week
Season: Late March to November