The Nation’s Best Canoe & Kayak Instruction
Whether you are a beginner trying out a new sport, a paddling enthusiast looking to advance your skills, or an outdoor professional requiring certification, NOC’s celebrated Paddling School provides top-notch courses with the best instructors in the business. Voted “Best Place to Learn” by Outside, NOC has taught more paddlers than anyone else, with 40+ years of experience going into every class. We offer course criteria for groups or individuals across many craft and skill levels to help you achieve your goals.
Select your course training from below; whitewater kayak instruction from beginner to advanced, youth clinics and summer camps, professional training and certification, and specialty programs are all here to help you on your journey to becoming a better paddler.
How do I get there? (Directions)
Bryson City Courses
13077 Highway 19 W.
Bryson City, NC 28713
From Asheville, NC Take I-40 W toward Knoxville, TN. Take Exit 27 onto US 74 W (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway) toward Waynesville/Clyde. After 48 miles (past Bryson City), the highway narrows to two lanes. Continue straight on US 74 for 4.3 more miles until you see the river and a bridge on your right. Cross the bridge. Turn left at the end of the bridge. The Paddling School is in the building on your right with a covered porch.
From East Atlanta Take I-85N to I-985N. At Gainesville, GA take 365N to 441N. Near Dillsboro, NC Hwy 441 will funnel into US 74. Take 74 W toward Bryson City. After 22 miles on US 74 (past Bryson City), the highway narrows to two lanes. Continue straight on US 74 for 4.3 more miles until you see the river and a bridge on your right. Cross the bridge. Turn left at the end of the bridge. The Paddling School is in the building on your right with a covered porch.
From West Atlanta Take I-75 N to I-575 N which becomes State Hwy 5 which in turn becomes Hwy 76. Stay with this road until just past Blue Ridge, GA, and then turn left onto Hwy 60 to Mineral Bluff, GA. In Mineral Bluff, turn right onto Hwy 60 Spur and follow it into North Carolina to US 74 E, turning right toward Murphy and Andrews. NOC is located 20 miles east of Andrews, NC. You will follow the river for the last 8 miles. Cross the bridge just past the NOC Outfitter’s Store on the left. Cross the bridge. Turn left at the end of the bridge. The Paddling School is in the building on your right with a covered porch.
From Chattanooga, TN Take I-75N toward Cleveland, TN. Take the first Cleveland exit (#20) onto US 64 Bypass East. Go 6 miles; take Ocoee Exit US 64 E towards Ocoee/Murphy, NC. At Murphy the road number changes to US 74. Stay on US 74 E. NOC is 20 miles east of Andrews, NC. You will follow the river for the last 8 miles. Cross the bridge just past the NOC Outfitter’s Store on the left. Cross the bridge. Turn left at the end of the bridge. The Paddling School is in the building on your right with a covered porch.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Center- 1978 Island Ford Parkway
Sandy Springs, GA 30350
From Norcross/West Atlanta: Take GA-141S/Peachtree Industrail Boulevard towards I-285. Take the I-285W exit towards Marietta/Chattanooga. After 8 miles, take exit 22 for New Northside Drive. Turn right onto New Northside Dr. and continue on Interstate N. Parkway/Riverside Lane NW. Take the last right before crossing the Chattahoochee River and enter the NOC Chattahoochee River Outpost parking area.
From Marietta/NW Atlanta: Exit I-75 South at Windy Hill/Exit 260. Turn left on Windy Hill Rd. SE. After .8 miles, turn right on Powers Ferry Rd. SE. After 1 mile turn left on Interstate N. Parkway, cross the Chattahoochee River and take the first left into the NOC Chattahoochee River Outpost parking area.
From the Atlanta International Airport: Take I-85N. After 11.2 miles keep right at the fork to continue onto I-75N following signs for Marietta/Chattanooga. After 7.3 miles take exit 258 for Cumberland Boulevard and turn right. At Interstate N. Parkway turn right. After crossing the Chattahoochee River, take the fist left and enter the NOC Chattahoochee River Outpost Parking area.
What do I need to bring with me?
Is accommodation included in the price?
Lodging accommodations must be booked separately and are not included in your paddling course tuition.
Are accommodations available at the NOC?
The NOC has several different lodging accommodations available for Paddling School Students. Call our Paddling School at (828) 785-4980 for more information and to check availability.
Is there camping available?
What are the food options at NOC?
Most Paddling School courses include lunch. However, there are 2 restaurants/eateries on the NOC campus:
Big Wesser is an open air-cafe situated right on the banks of the Nantahala River, and is NOC’s quickest dining option. Menu items include burritos, salads, and some seriously tasty tacos. Big Wesser is closed in the winter. Click here for restaurant hours and to check out Big Wesser’s Menu.
River’s End offers casual riverside dining with a menu that offers everything from pancakes and biscuits to burgers, chili, and the best pizza in area! During the winter months when Big Wesser is closed, a 6-Dollar menu is offered; the rest of the year, Paddling School students are extended a 20% discount at River’s End. Click here for restaurant hours and to view the menu at River’s End.
Bryson City (15 minutes down Hwy 74E) has an Ingles supermarket and several dining options.
Is there internet available on NOC campus?
The NOC has a Guest Wireless network that is available in most all common areas of the main campus. This includes NOC restaurants, Outfitter’s Store, Welcome Centers, and Rafting Center. Currently, access to wireless in Basecamp is spotty.
What do you do when there is bad weather?
What does instruction include?
What boats are in the fleet?
What does a typical Paddling School day look like?
What rivers do you instruct on?
Our location on the banks of the Nantahala River is the perfect launching point to other amazing rivers in the Southeast. Paddling School participants will paddle rivers based on the instructor’s assessment of individual skills, daily time availability, and water levels among other factors. Below is a list of the rivers that we could possibly paddle on during your instruction. We will not paddle all of them, and choices will vary by skill level and instruction type.
- North Carolina
- Nantahala River*
- Oconaluftee River*
- Pigeon River
- Chattooga River
- Tuckaseegee Gorge*
- French Broad River
- Ocoee River
- Cartecay River
- Little Tennessee River*
- Upper Green River
An additional travel fee for travel to a river outside of our Paddling School local teaching area (*) will be applied to Private Instruction programs.
Do your courses include lodging and meals?
Lunch included in all* full-day instruction programs. We also provide a discount card for our restaurants for use during your visit to NOC. *Swiftwater Rescue participants must bring their own lunch.
Additional discounts are available at NOC lodging and restaurants. Restrictions apply, please discuss with an instructor for more details.
What are the age requirements for NOC's Paddling School?
- Private Instruction – 8 years old is recommended, but we may be able to accommodate younger paddlers after a conversation.
- Introduction to Whitewater Kayaking – 8 years old. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Kids Camps – 9-17 years old. Advanced Teen Camp is 13-17 years old.
- Multi-Day Courses – 18 years old.