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Press Releases

From new venues, seasonal openings, events, awards, and more! Browse through our announcements and press releases to see what’s new from the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure.


May 17, 2024

Nantahala Outdoor Center Announces Official Partnership With Blue Lizard® Australian Sunscreen

The Leaders in Outdoor Adventure Partner with Award-Winning Mineral Sunscreen Brand 

BRYSON CITY, NC (March X, 2024) — Nantahala Outdoor Center (“NOC”), the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure since 1972, are excited to announce Blue Lizard® Australian Sunscreen (“Blue Lizard”) as the official sunscreen of NOC. Blue Lizard products will now be available for sale at all NOC retail locations and will also be used by NOC employees and rafting guides to protect their skin as they work outdoors. 


“This partnership is an amazing fit for NOC,” said Colin McBeath, President of NOC. “With our emphasis on safety outdoors, Blue Lizard is helping us fulfill a major part of our core values. This partnership ensures we’re continuing to educate and keep people protected from the sun, while exposing them to all the adventure the outdoors can offer.”

Blue Lizard is dedicated to providing quality, mineral sun-protection options that are safer for both consumers and the environment, which makes the brand an ideal partner for providing broad spectrum sun protection to our guests and staff. As part of the partnership, guests can expect to see sun care tips posted throughout NOC’s main campus in Bryson City, NC, as well as on its website and social media channels throughout the year. There are also special giveaways planned throughout the season.

“We’re thrilled to be the official sunscreen partner for NOC,” said Michael Morris, Brand Director of Suncare at Crown Laboratories. “It’s so important for people to have proper sun protection, especially when spending extended periods of time outdoors, both in and out of the water. Blue Lizard’s environmentally friendly, water-resistant formulations are the perfect choice for guests enjoying all that NOC has to offer.”


Blue Lizard’s products are manufactured regionally by Crown Laboratories, Inc. in Johnson City, TN. Their dermatologist-recommended products are mineral-based, environmentally friendly, easy-to-use, and water resistant. 


For more information on the Nantahala Outdoor Center and its offerings, visit www.noc.com. For additional information on Blue Lizard, visit www.bluelizardsunscreen.com




About Nantahala Outdoor Center 

Nantahala Outdoor Center is the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company with operations spanning Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Over a million guests visit NOC annually to embark on a diverse collection of more than 120 different river and land-based itineraries, learn to kayak at NOC’s world-renowned Paddling School, travel abroad with NOC’s Adventure Travel program, test the latest outdoor gear and shop at its LEED-certified flagship retail stores or enjoy NOC’s resort amenities such as its three restaurants and multi-tiered lodging. NOC has been recognized by The New York Times as the “Nation’s Premiere Paddling School,” “The Best Place to Learn” by Outside, and as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure. 


About Blue Lizard® 

For over 20 years, Blue Lizard has been trusted by dermatologists and pediatricians to deliver highly effective and gentle mineral-based sunscreens for head-to-toe sun protection. All Blue Lizard sunscreens are free from Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, making the entire line of sunscreens reef friendly. Featuring Smart Bottle® and Smart Cap® Technology, Blue Lizard product packaging also lets consumers know when harmful UV rays are present and reminds them to reapply. For more information, please visit www.bluelizardsunscreen.com.


Media Contacts:  

Catherine Grygiel

Pineapple PR



Jill McGonigle

Crown Laboratories


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April 9, 2024

Nantahala Outdoor Center Elevates The Mountain Getaway With The Hemlocks By NOC

High-End Bungalow-Style Accommodations to Open in June 2024

BRYSON CITY, NC (Feb. X, 2024) — Get ready for a new era of opulent outdoor escapes as the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure Since 1972, proudly unveils The Hemlocks by NOC, a fabulous new addition to their Bryson City, NC campus lodging. Available for bookings this June, these posh bungalow-style cabins are poised to redefine your perfect getaway complete with eat-in kitchen, private deck and king rooms, featuring creative design elements that elevate the guest experience.

NOC, in collaboration with Studio Shed, Tinker Ma, and Morgan Construction introduces The Hemlocks, a significant architectural venture. Nestled on a ridgeline, these bungalows are designed to blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings, exemplifying Studio Shed’s commitment to environmentally considerate construction.

For more than 50 years, guests have come to NOC to be immersed in nature and enjoy world-class rafting, hiking and outdoor exploration. Now, the landmark retreat introduces elevated lodging offerings that respect and build on the traditions of excellence that made NOC the leading outdoor adventure company while raising the guest experience to a new level.

“This is an exciting step for NOC as we embark on the extraordinary journey of creating the next era of distinctive outdoor and indoor experiences at our 500-acre mountain campus,” said NOC President Colin McBeath. “A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, The Hemlocks by NOC are a testament to our commitment to continue to evolve our offerings with upgraded accommodations that elevate the guest experience.”

The Hemlocks boasts eight pet-friendly bungalows, including four 2-bedroom and four 1-bedroom cabins with two ADA-accessible rooms. Elegantly blending the majesty of the outdoors with comfort, furnishings and finishes are plush and honor the outdoor, mountain setting through design elements and earthy color palettes. To further enhance each stay, the units will feature high-end toiletries and locally sourced Pisgah Coffee, ensuring an elevated but authentic mountain experience.

Select units are elevated using wood pilings, showcasing the team’s innovative approach to modular construction and helical pier foundations. This method ensures a reduced environmental footprint while accommodating the undulating terrain, allowing these bungalows to coexist with the slope of the landscape without the need for traditional, more intrusive foundation methods.

The Hemlocks will feature mountain views and provide the feeling of seclusion while having easy access to 100+ adventure itineraries, the Appalachian Trail, the Nantahala River, and a plethora of on-campus amenities. Indulge in dining, live entertainment, the Outfitter’s Store and paddling and wilderness courses.

Additionally, in celebration of The Hemlocks’ grand opening, NOC will present a $2,000 donation to the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, supporting its vital work across the region. This initiative educates the community on treating and preserving hemlock trees, crucial for maintaining river ecosystem health by filtering and cooling water, stabilizing banks and supporting aquatic life. Additionally, the donation acknowledges the formation of the Paddlers for Hemlock Health and Treatment (PHHAT) group, a collective of regional kayakers who access remote areas to treat hemlocks, showcasing a unique collaboration between outdoor enthusiasts and conservation efforts.

This unveiling is just the beginning of NOC’s new multi-phase master plan of development for their Bryson City campus. Over the next few years, NOC plans to expand by adding new amenities including revamped lodging and dining options, a spa and wellness center, expanded activities, event spaces and more. To be part of this adventure, book your spot at The Hemlocks and experience NOC’s commitment to blending luxury and nature seamlessly. For more information on the Nantahala Outdoor Center and its offerings, visit www.noc.com. Explore the innovative partners behind The Hemlocks project at www.studio-shed.com, www.tinkerma.com, and www.morganconstruction.com.  



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April 2, 2024

Celebrating The Chattooga River: 50 Years Of Wild & Scenic Designation And A Legacy Of Adventure

BRYSON CITY, NC (April 2, 2024) — This May, the Chattooga Conservancy and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) proudly celebrate a monumental milestone: the Chattooga River’s 50th anniversary as a Wild & Scenic River. This designation, a triumph of conservation, secured the Chattooga’s untamed beauty and thrilling whitewater, making it a national treasure for generations of adventurers.

Flowing through the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Chattooga River offers a wilderness escape like no other. Its Wild & Scenic status, granted in 1974, has been pivotal in preserving its ecosystems and solidifying its draw for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Chattooga’s Wild & Scenic designation, we celebrate the foresighted efforts that preserved this exceptional river,” says Nicole Hayler, Executive Director of the Chattooga Conservancy. “The Chattooga embodies a commitment to conservation and adventure that continues to motivate us. Facing today’s environmental challenges, this milestone not only commemorates past achievements but also reinforces our call to action. We encourage everyone who cherishes the Chattooga to join in this celebration, committing to the river’s ongoing protection.”

NOC and the Chattooga: A Partnership Rooted in History

NOC’s story is intrinsically tied to the Chattooga River. Founded in 1972, NOC has been at the forefront of sharing the Chattooga’s magic. That same year, Payson Kennedy, one of NOC’s founders, famously doubled for Ned Beatty in the iconic film “Deliverance,” which showcased the river’s power and allure. NOC has been guiding rafting trips on the Chattooga ever since, introducing countless people to the river’s excitement and its enduring natural beauty.

The Chattooga’s popularity grew over the decades. Adventurers of all skill levels can find a challenge here, from the heart-pounding Class IV and V rapids of Section IV to the gentler flow that’s perfect for families and kayaking.

“The Chattooga River is a unique treasure, and its Wild and Scenic designation has been instrumental in preserving its wild character and recreational opportunities,” says Ryan Dale, the Chattooga River Manager at Nantahala Outdoor Center. “The NOC is proud to have been a part of the Chattooga’s story for over 50 years, and we remain committed to working with the Chattooga Conservancy and other partners to ensure its health and enjoyment for generations to come.”

Celebrating the Golden Anniversary

Join us in honoring the Chattooga River’s 50th anniversary as a Wild & Scenic River. Through celebration, education, and a continued dedication to stewardship, we ensure this iconic river remains a source of adventure and inspiration for decades to come.

For further details on anniversary celebrations and NOC’s offerings, please visit www.noc.com.

About Nantahala Outdoor Center & The Chattooga River

Nantahala Outdoor Center is a premier outdoor recreation company, with operations in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Welcoming over a million guests annually, NOC offers an extensive array of adventures, including river and land-based activities, world-class paddling instruction, and adventure travel programs. Among these treasures is the Chattooga River, a jewel in the crown of the Southeast’s natural landscapes. Designated as a Wild & Scenic River in 1974, the Chattooga offers unmatched whitewater rafting experiences, set against a backdrop of stunning wilderness that has been preserved for half a century. This river not only represents NOC’s dedication to providing thrilling outdoor adventures but also embodies our deep commitment to conserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the regions we serve. Acknowledged by The New York Times, Outside, and National Geographic Adventure, NOC is celebrated for its exceptional outdoor experiences, significantly enriched by the storied and scenic Chattooga River.

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September 22, 2022

Supporting Diversity in the Outdoors: Nantahala Outdoor Center Partners with The Wesser Foundation to Launch Guide Scholarship

Bryson City, N.C. (September 20, 2022)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is proud to partner with The Wesser Foundation Inc. to launch the Founders Scholarship, for the purpose of creating opportunities for those with limited resources to begin a career in whitewater. The scholarship is open for applicants for the 2023 season and will cover the cost of Guide School training, equipment, housing, and meal plans.

NOC, the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure Since 1972, has taught more guides than anyone in the industry. Elite river guide instructors offer hands-on experience teaching river reading, guide paddle strokes and communication, river safety and rescue, boat features and rigging, and more. Students come away from the experience with self-confidence, leadership skills, teamwork, and environmental knowledge.

“NOC has been teaching and training river guides for over fifty years,” said Kristin Kastelic, NOC Marketing Director. “With this scholarship, we hope to open up the opportunity for more careers in whitewater and a connection to the outdoors, to even more people that might not have the resources to take the leap.”

The Wesser Foundation was established by Jess Austin, who met the same challenges early in his career. Austin had to forego becoming a river guide in his twenties as he pursued law school. Now retired, he finally made his dream come true and works at NOC as a river guide, taking families down the Nantahala River every Spring through the Fall.

“My wife and I established the Founders Scholarship as a way of removing systemic barriers for anyone attempting to access a career in the outdoors,” said Jess Austin, President of the Wesser Foundation, NOC Lead River Guide, and the visionary behind the scholarship. “As someone who had to put aside outdoor aspirations due to financial barriers, I’m inspired to remove limitations and help more folks gain access to careers and training in the outdoors.”

Chosen scholarship recipients will attend NOC’s renowned Guide School, where participants spend five days in the field training with experienced instructors. Along with learning guide skills, chosen recipients will also be outfitted with the essential river gear and equipment, take first aid and CPR training and certifications, and receive complimentary staff housing and meals while employed at Nantahala Outdoor Center during the River Guide season.

Those interested in the Founders Scholarship are encouraged to apply at noc.com/about/founders-scholarship. The selection and interview process for the scholarships will begin in the winter of 2022-2023 and be announced in the spring.

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March 4, 2022

Nantahala Outdoor Center Celebrates 50 Years of Adventure

Bryson City, N.C. (March 3, 2022)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure since 1972, is kicking off its 50th anniversary this spring 2022. The founders — Horace Holden Sr., Payson and Aurelia Kennedy — created the organization with the idea that friends working together to pursue their outdoor passions could change lives. Originally getting its start as just a small motel and gas station along the Nantahala River in Bryson City, NOC has grown to multiple locations across four Southeastern states and guided millions of guests down the river.

NOC’s initial niche of whitewater rafting trips has expanded to over 120 land and river-based activities, including kayaking, ziplining, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, tubing and international trips. The 500-acre main campus in Bryson City hosts the renowned Paddling School, SOLO Wilderness Medicine courses, restaurants and lodging, also serving as a respite for thru hikers along the Appalachian Trail. A home for professional adventurers as well as novices, the campus is one of the nation’s premier training sites for elite whitewater athletes, including 23 Olympians and two gold medalists.

Horace Holden Sr., who purchased the property on the Nantahala, brought Aurelia and Payson Kennedy on board 50 years ago to help him mold NOC into what it is today. Now the last remaining founder, Payson Kennedy is proud to celebrate five decades since guiding the first commercial whitewater trips in the region. His incredible legacy includes pioneering rafting and kayaking on the most iconic rivers in the Southeast, filming as a stunt double on the Chattooga River in the film Deliverance, hosting Olympic athletes and races, and so much more. Payson’s daughter Cathy Kennedy has been a part of the NOC family since she was 16 years old, and she still guides rafting trips down the Nantahala River and works in various departments across the company. The family’s legacy exemplifies NOC’s commitment to tradition and fostering relationships that continue to grow and strengthen throughout the years.

“Fifty years ago, Horace, Relia and I envisioned a community where a group of friends who loved sharing outdoor adventures together could enjoy those activities more frequently while providing support and instruction to others to make it safe and easy for them to do the same,” said NOC co-founder Payson Kennedy. “We were surprised and pleased at the number of highly capable people who chose to join us in this endeavor, and by the enthusiasm of the guests who participated. This venture, now widely known as ‘the NOC,’ grew beyond our wildest expectations. My hope is that over the next fifty years even more people will learn to enjoy outdoor adventures with our help.”

In celebration of this important milestone, NOC will be hosting events, giveaways, storytelling, interviews and more throughout the year. To keep tabs on events and more, visit NOC’s 50 Years here. Media can find supporting photos and information at www.noc.com/50-years-press-kit/.

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September 9, 2021

NOC Announces New International Adventures Program for 2022


Bryson City, N.C. (Sept. 9, 2021)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure since 1972, announced today the launch of its new international adventure travel tours beginning spring 2022 in celebration of its 50th anniversary season. Starting now, outdoor enthusiasts can plan trips abroad, including activities that NOC is well known for and more, in countries all over the world.

NOC will kick off its international travel program in 2022 with 12 trips that offer varying itineraries available for ages six and up with activities ranging in skill level from beginner to expert. The all-inclusive excursions are fully planned and led by experienced guides and include everything from the adventure and gear to the lodging and meals, with the exception of flights. Due to partnerships with local guides and hosts in each region, these trips offer intimate and authentic experiences with smaller groups, off-the-beaten-path excursions and unique accommodations. This makes for an accessible approach to adventure travel, where guests can confidently navigate and experience some of the most beautiful places on Earth without feeling like a tourist.

With NOC’s 50 years of adventure experience, trips have options including multi-sport itineraries and a range of specific adventure activities, like whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding and horseback riding. Non-adventure activities include unique cultural experiences, bear viewings, safaris, wine tastings and farm to table meals.

To book an NOC international adventure trip and learn more, visit noc.com/international.

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May 13, 2021

Nantahala Outdoor Center Reopens Adventures with Expanded Offerings

The Outfitter Welcomes Guests Back with New Venues, Courses, and Events for the 2021 Season

Bryson City, N.C. (May 13, 2021)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Leaders in Outdoor Adventure, has opened for its 50th season with river and aerial adventures along with new food and beverage venues, and courses on their 500-acre Bryson City campus. The full range of land and water activities include guided whitewater rafting, ducky and raft rentals, mountain top zip line tours, mountain biking, and multiple ropes courses for patrons. The Outfitter has also opened their other outpost locations for trips on the French Broad, Chattooga, Ocoee, Pigeon, and Chattahoochee Rivers seeing exponentially increasing demand. Read more by downloading the full release.

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May 5, 2021

NOC Announces Colin McBeath as New Company President

Bryson City, N.C. (May 5, 2021)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Southeast’s Leader in Outdoor Adventure announced that Colin McBeath has been named the new company President.

McBeath has over 20 years of service in the hospitality and activity/recreation industry worldwide. He is a career hospitality executive with experience in the United States, as well as Canada and Asia managing luxury properties, airlines, hotel chains, and resorts.

McBeath most recently served as the CEO of the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation in Arizona, hosting 1.3 million visitors annually worldwide. While there he managed a large rafting operation on the Colorado River, zip line courses, land-based adventures, retail department, lodging, and 12 Food and beverage locations throughout resort.

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March 22, 2021

Nantahala Outdoor Center Announces Relia’s Lost Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner Series

Bryson City, N.C. (March 22, 2021)— Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) will host a series of exclusive pop-up dinner events from May through October 2021 at their Bryson City location where the original Relia’s Garden Restaurant served patrons for many years. Relia’s Lost Kitchen will feature multiple course dinners with pairings from renowned wine and bourbon producers, as well as local craft mead and beer makers.

The first of the series kicks off on May 22 with a five-course dinner paired with the Orin Swift Cellars portfolio of wines from California. Doors open at 6:00PM with the dinner beginning at 6:30PM.

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July 1, 2020

Roswell City Parks Welcome New Riverside Outdoor Adventure Business

Atlanta, GA — Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), one of the nation’s largest outdoor outfitters, will open the doors to its newest location in Roswell, GA beginning June 20th, 2020. A small, RSVP-only “first launch” will be held Wednesday June 24th with VIPs, local officials and media representatives. The opening of river and land based activities within the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area marks the 8th adventure operation for the outfitter across the Southeast and the second expansion within the greater Atlanta, GA market.

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