Boating along the Blue Ridge Parkway has a wide range of possibilities. Canoeing and kayaking are excellent ways to experience the stillwater of mountain lakes and stunning views of mountains that rise around every lake’s edges. Boaters can lay down their paddles and drift in the wind, relaxing in the stillness and calmness of a lake’s smooth water. They can paddle around the lake’s edge, stopping and exploring the wilderness on all sides. Price Lake is the most popular place to canoe and kayak along the Parkway. It offers plenty of space, boat rentals, and views of Grandfather Mountain rising in the distance.
Canoeing and kayaking are also perfect for traveling down rivers, in both their calm and rapid sections. Rivers considered “still water” have slow currents, small wakes or rapids, and little change in water levels. These type of rivers are easy to paddle and appropriate for beginners. Rivers considered “flowing water” have slow to moderate currents, small to moderate wakes or rapids, and small to moderate change or drops in water levels. These types of rivers are great to canoe and best for groups that include a wide range of experience levels.
Rivers considered “white water” have moderate to fast moving currents, moderate to large wakes or rapids, and moderate to large changes or drops in water levels. These type of rivers are not appropriate to canoe. They are best for experienced boaters using whitewater kayaks.
The New River, which runs very close to the Parkway in many places, is a popular place for canoeing and kayaking. The water near the headwaters in Blowing Rock, North Carolina is considered flowing water, and the water beyond the confluence of the south and north forks near the Mouth of Wilson is considered white water. The top of the New River in West Virginia has a higher class of white water and is considered some of the best whitewater in the Eastern United Sates.
Places to Canoe & Kayak along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The only place directly on the Parkway that has boat rentals. Large, calm, and surrounded on all sides by stunning mountain vistas, this lake is perfect for a lazy day canoeing.
French Broad River
South of Asheville, this river is wide, fast-moving and best for experienced paddlers. The upper sections, however, are flat with gentle currents that wind through scenic woods and farmland.
The section of the Watauga River that runs from Watauga Lake into the North Carolina High Country consists of easy, gentle rapids perfect for an easy day down the river. It is dam controlled and provides consisted water levels.
Just south of the southernmost point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this river runs along the remote western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has some of the most challenging rapids in the world is maintained with regular releases.
This river has sections that are fast-moving and rough in between long stretches that are slow and serene. It runs through scenic and remote regions on the border between North Carolina and Tenessee.