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The small town of Butler, Tennessee, sits near Watauga Lake in the northeastern corner of Tennessee, located about 20 miles south of the Virginia state line. You could actually call it Butler 2.0: the original Butler is submerged in Watauga Lake. Around the time of the construction of the Watauga Dam in 1948, the “new” Butler was incorporated on a higher patch of land, and the old version of the city was left to a new life underwater. Visitors to Butler can see the history of "the town that wouldn't drown" at The Butler Museum or go fishing for old Model Ts in the lake. To up your dosage of history, you can stop by the Gray Fossil Museum, located about a 43.5-mile drive from the inn in the town of Gray. The fossil site was discovered by highway workers in 2000 and appears to have been the location of an old sinkhole and an ancient pond. There’s an ongoing dig going on around this museum that has turned up fossils of an ancient rhino and a rare species of red panda.The natural landscape is the real draw of this area of Tennessee, though; the Appalachian and Iron Mountains spread as far as the eye can see, and caves, waterfalls, and hiking trails are abundant. Twelve miles from the Iron Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast, you’ll find sections of the famous Appalachian Trail that are excellent for a daylong hiking trip. The inn is also close to North Carolina's Blowing Rock, a cliff where light objects such as leaves are thrown over the edge and then blow back like a boomerang.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.

268 Moreland Dr
Butler,
TN
US

Wahoo’s Adventures refers to itself as the “original” whitewater outfitter, having facilitated outdoor excursions on rafts, tubes, canoes, and kayaks for the past three decades. Whitewater-rafting tours take place upon the Watauga River, the Nolichucky River, and Wilson Creek Gorge, three waterways with differing levels of frothiness, much like three cappuccinos ordered by a family of bears. Alternatively, adults without rafting experience and children as young as 6 months can lazily drift down the New River while sprawled across tubes. As they pass rugged hillsides and scenic farmland, tubers can smell wildflowers, listen to chirping birds, and keep eyes peeled for Sasquatch footprints. Keeping clients safe is Wahoo’s main priority, which is why their experienced guides equip adventurers with high-quality life jackets, helmets, and paddles before taking the water.

105 John Sheffield Drive
Elizabethton,
TN
US

River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits.

Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.

1617 Broad St.
Elizabethton,
TN
US