Ground School For Family Adventure at the Nantahala Outdoor Center I Hill Country Homestead
I spent a bit of time at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) when I competed in whitewater slalom years ago. Our whitewater racing team saw many beautiful rivers, mountains and more but this magical place was my favorite to rent a cabin and stay a while. I stayed then, for the whitewater and slalom poles and but I always knew there was more to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The sense of community, zeal for life and quench of adventure at the NOC was evident to me, even as a teen athlete. The positive vibes I experienced in the mountains at the NOC in my youth lasted decades. The NOC is a place I have always wanted to find again in my travels.
When we spend extended time outdoors we are carting children on our front, back or otherwise in an effort to show them the depths of nature. Surely it would be more comfortable to sit indoors and put on a show for them and unwind. As parents, we want them to learn to be passionate about the outdoors and the natural world. I want to be the one to educate them on taking risks, exploring further, and needing to know what’s just around the rivers bend. It’s my privilege as a parent to mentally document and sometimes photograph the joy in my children’s eyes that a waterfall evokes or the confident gleam gained by climbing a mountain. It’s not easy work to take toddlers down a river or hike an infant into the woods in a backpack, but it’s so important.
The NOC is a gorgeous campus nestled in the Smokey Mountains offers over 120 river and land-based itinerary options. When you log on to their site, you can browse through different adventures and select the difficulty level that suits you. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is the nations largest outdoor recreation, offering guided whitewater experiences on 8 southeastern rivers and land adventures for all ages.
Tree Top Adventure Nets
The Treetop ropes at the NOC are the perfect starting point for adventure! Ages three and up can climb safely through the treetops lining the banks of the Nantahala River. This wholly enclosed treetop ropes course is also next door to one of the two riverside restaurants, the bar and an outdoor patio making it a perfect pairing for an evening family stroll, dinner and drinks by the river and an impressive natural plays-cape for the kids to enjoy while the adults take in the surrounding Nantahala River Gorge.
The home base never looked so good. The deluxe cabins at the NOC are nestled into the inclines and crevices of the mountain, helping them to blend into the terrain. A kitchen and plenty of utensils to make a meal with provided, a charcoal grill, wifi, flatscreen and satellite and sleeps 6-8. The NOC also offers other accommodations that fit any budget from motel rooms, platform tents, and bunkhouses.
Enjoy the excitement and the rush of whitewater with the safety of a highly trained expert and guide. The NOC veteran guides and staff are unmatched in the entire outdoor industry having won awards and recognition for being inspirational leaders in the outdoor recreation industry. We were intrigued at how educational the whitewater raft trip was. The guide, Joe, was very informative about the local flora and fauna, pointing out medicinal plants and edible ones that are native to the area. The whitewater raft guides offer so much more than the raft trip itself, their adventures, knowledge, and personality add so much character to the experience.
Start at the top! The NOC’s Mountain Zipline Tour begins 600 feet in the air at the tip of the Nantahala Gorge, offering 360 degree views of the Great Smokey Mountains, National Forest and Natahala Gorge. If you need a step down, the NOC offers ZLAP and riders as light as 60 lbs can play. Difficulty levels vary from beginner to advanced so this is the perfect place to get your kicks. Offering 16 aerial adventure elements there is absolutely something for everyone. Much more on this in future articles, the Mountain Zip was completely breathtaking!