Take a Dip, Make a Splash

Just as a quintessential High Country winter can’t be spent without skiing or snowboarding, a High Country summer wouldn’t be complete without taking a dip in at least one of nature’s beautiful water parks.

With rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls and ponds, there’s certainly plenty of opportunity to have some fun in the sun with refreshing mountain water.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are host to plenty of water sports, such as kayaking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, tubing and the hottest new trend in aquatics, paddle boarding, in which the rider stands up on top of a board and paddles along the river. 

The High Country is host to a plethora of lakes and rivers ideal for water sports, including Price Lake, the New River, the Watauga River, Bass Lake, Watauga Lake, Wilson’s Creek and more. 

These same locations are also host to some of the High Country’s finest fishing opportunities.

Although the Boone area is host to plenty of watering holes, many of the faster and more advanced rapids are located in Eastern Tennessee. However, many High Country outfitters will provide transportation, or at least directions, to various locations.

Rafting season lasts from around Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend due to the cold temperatures of our crisp mountain streams. A wetsuit is recommended for those who partake in water sports outside of this time frame. 

New to water sports? A number of local outfitters will help you plan your freshwater adventure.

Wahoo’s Adventures (3385 S U.S. 321, Boone) has been providing adventurous opportunities to locals and visitors for 37 years in 2015. With three riverside outposts, Wahoo’s boasts access to the New River in Western North Carolina and the Watauga River, Nolichucky River and Wilson’s Creek in Eastern Tennessee. 

Whether you’re looking to whitewater raft, kayak, canoe, tube or paddle your way down one of the area’s many streams, Wahoo’s has the equipment, guides and knowledge for you. 

Wahoo’s outposts boast amenities, such as hot showers, changing rooms, concessions, gift shops, picnic shelters and more. 

For more information, or to make a reservation, call (828) 262-5774 or visit www.wahoosadventures.com

Another outfitter on the forefront of High Country aquatics, Edge of the World (394 Shawneehaw Ave, Banner Elk), has been in the area for 33 years, according to its website. 

Like Wahoo’s, Edge of the World offers multiple activities, from rafting, kayaking and paddle boarding to rock climbing. The company provides transportation to locations on both the Watauga River and Wilson Creek.

Guests are also treated to a homemade lunch, with a vegetarian option available for those with diet restrictions

For more information, or to book your trip, visit www.edgeoworld.com or call (800) 789-3343. 

Experienced rafters need not look any further than River & Earth Adventures (1655 N.C. 105 South, Boone), another outfitter that offers a trip so extreme that guests must be at least 18 and physically fit and healthy to participate. 

The Watauga Gorge trip takes brave daredevils through Class III, IV and V rapids throughout the entire trip, travelling more than 5 miles through natural Blue Ridge beauty.

River & Earth Adventures also offers canoeing, kayaking and tubing trips for those looking for a more laid-back adventure. 

For more information, visit www.raftcavehike.com or call (866) 411-7238. 

For those who prefer still water to whitewater, Price Lake, situated in scenic Julian Price Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, offers canoe rentals during the summer. 

For more information, visit http://1.usa.gov/1IlfNzS, or call (828) 963-5911.

River Outfitters

Edge of the World

394 Shawneehaw Ave.

Banner Elk, N.C. 28604

(828) 898-9550


High Mountain Expeditions

1380 N.C. 105

Boone, N.C. 28607

(828) 264-7368


River & Earth Adventures

1655 N.C. 105 South

Boone, N.C. 28607

(828) 963-5491


Rivercamp USA

2221 Kings Creek Road

Piney Creek, N.C. 28663

(336) 359-2267


Wahoo’s Adventures

3385 U.S. 321 South

Boone, N.C. 28607

(800) 444-RAFT


Watauga Kayak

1409 Broad St.

Elizabethton, Tenn. 37643

(423) 542-6777


Zaloo’s Canoes

3874 N.C. 16 South

Jefferson, N.C. 28640

(800) 535-4027



Watauga Lake Marinas

Cove Ridge Marina

947 Piercetown Road

Butler, Tenn. 37640

(423) 768-3741


Fish Springs Marina 

191 Fish Springs Road

Hampton, Tenn. 37658

(423) 768-2336


Lakeshore Marina

2285 U.S. 321

Hampton, Tenn. 37658

(423) 725-2201


Pioneer Landing Marina & Campground

105 Cowan Town Road

Butler, Tenn. 37640

(423) 768-3164



By Erika Giovanetti

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