The first half is the train ride up to Nantahala Gorge. We left around 10:30 and arrived a couple of hours later. You see some beautiful scenery on the trip, most notable is Fontana Lake. The train people tell the story of the building of Fontana Dam during WW II...three towns were flooded in the process of forming Fontana Lake. The lake is huge and quite beautiful. From there the tracks run alongside the Nantahala River quite a bit and you get to see other rafters on their way down. Overall the train ride was nice, but by the time it was done, my kids were ready for something new.
We rafted with Wildwater; they got us off the train and too the put-in point. We had lunch there -(BBQ sandwiches, chips, brownies...it was good). After lunch Pappy (totally entertaining southern dude) gave us the speech about rafting safety, assigned everyone to a guide, and off we went (carrying our raft to the water). Our guide was very good. He grew up in the area and is a high school English teacher in real life! He knew how to hit the rapids to keep us all safe (I had an 8yo with me), but also to have fun. We all enjoyed the little perks he provided like bumping off big rocks and spinning around. The water was about 48 degrees that day...much of the water comes from under a damn, so it's about 40 degrees. It mixes with the natural water in the river which brings the temp up a bit. But it's very cold...you would definitely not enjoying swimming in it! Two of my kids were brave enough to jump in, but they quickly wanted back in the boat and were happy to remain there. You will get wet from the splashes, but that's not bad, especially on a hot July day.
When we were done, we were bused back to the Whitewater office where there were changing rooms and showers, snacks and t-shirts, and the opportunity to buy a photo of you going through the last set of rapids.
All in all, it was a very nice day and I recommend it for families or anyone who wants a relatively calm whitewater rafting experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.