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French Broad River: North Carolina White Water Rafting Fun!

Updated on March 19, 2011

The Southeastern U.S. Has Many Great White Water Rivers, Including the French Broad RIver...

If you live in the southeast United States, you know how those long hot summer days can be, if you are stuck at home or at the office while everyone else is out having fun… The best place to be on a day like that is at a lake or river near you, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying some kind of sport that involves getting wet! Have you tried white water rafting yet? The south has many great rivers within a short drive of where you live most likely, and they do vary in difficulty to please all experience levels.  The French Broad River in NC is one of those rivers...

For those who have prior white water rafting trips under their belt, the Gauley River and the New River in West Virginia would make a very intense trip for those so inclined… Or how about trying the Ocoee River in Tennessee or the Chattooga River in Georgia for a slightly lesser challenge? But if you have never been rafting before, I would suggest trying another river that’s maybe not so intense for your first time. The French Broad River in North Carolina is just that river, and it may be the perfect outing in the southeast for those newbie’s! The water is warm, the rapids are not that intense, and the trip is a several hour journey interspersed with nice Class III and IV rapids and a relaxing float down the river.

Picnic On the French Broad River...

The longer trip that you can book on the French Broad River is for 9 miles, and the shorter one is 5 miles. The rafting companies that offer this river usually will stop for lunch about halfway down on the longer trip and you will enjoy a very scenic and relaxing picnic lunch either at a pavilion or among the shoreline. The great thing about it is you don’t have to do anything, the tour company sets up the whole spread and your job is just to eat! It’s a great way to unwind a little before the final set of rapids, and gives you a much needed rest.

The French Broad River gets its name from it flows toward what used to be French owned land back in the old days, and also because the river is so wide and broad; not necessarily that a French broad owned it... This is a very interesting river because it’s only the 2nd river in the United States to flow north! I believe that the other one is the St. Johns River in Florida. The French Broad River is also an incredibly old river, and it is predated by the Nile of Egypt and the New River of West Virginia, but that may be about it. It runs for about 210 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and is a great fishing river for many anglers. If you are in the Asheville NC area, it’s also the closest rafting river to that town.

White Water Rafting the French Broad River...

When choosing a white water rafting company make sure to pick one with a lot of experience and size, because it’s always better when there are more rafts of the same company out on the water to help in case one of them gets into trouble. There is a great deal of competition on the rivers, and one company will not necessarily help another one if they need it. They would rather have them go out of business from a bad trip then give them a hand sometimes. I’ve seen it with my own eyes!

Even though the French Broad River is not as intense as some of the other southern rivers are, it still has its moments… The second portion of the longer trip (after the picnic) gets into some heavy Class IV rapids that you are sure to enjoy, and you’ll probably also have a few white knuckle rides! There is plenty of great white water to be had at this river, and it’s one you’ll most likely want to come back to time and time again!

One of the great things about the French Broad River is that you most likely will not have to travel far in order to reach it. As far as accessibility goes, it’s one of the easiest to get to in that area, without a long rural drive in the backcountry. A drive like that can be nice also, but sometimes you just want to get where you’re going quickly. In any case, this river is great for beginners looking to rack up a little experience first before tackling the bigger monster rivers of the southeast such as the Gauley River in West Virginia, which might very well take the prize for the biggest rapids! And if you are looking just for a quiet and relaxing day on the water with friends with no anticipation of any further training, this is also the perfect river for you in this area. I hope you give it a try, I know you’ll have a blast!

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