The Nantahala River rushes through Class II rapids and higher, but it also runs through the stories of the countless people who've dared its churning waters and tumbling falls. One such story centers on Steven and Sue, who met at a Hendersonville summer camp and soon fell in love with each other and the Smoky Mountain air. Eight years later, the Matzes sold off the trappings of corporate-Atlanta life and founded Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting with their two children, four dogs, and more than a dozen wilderness-loving employees.
These instructors—certified in First Aid and CPR—ready groups for each guided or unguided exploration by teaching proper raft and boat control, as well as describing techniques for crew coordination. A hand-painted map points out routes through the Nantahala Gorge that avoid interview-hungry nature documentarians. Adventurers have just as many rafting options as routes, including Aire and Hyside self-bailing inflatable rafts, funyaks, sit-on-top Torrent kayaks, and traditional bucket rafts. After either disembarking at the riverside outpost—recognizable by the tree growing through its center—or preparing for a final plunge down the Nantahala Wesser Falls, river-farers dry off and examine photos taken during the plunge down the Falls. The outdoor picnic area's park-style charcoal grills make it easy to throw a post-river barbecue.