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Tennessee whitewater, Watauga

Carter Washington county, Watauga Reservoir to Boone Lake section whitewater kayaking, rafting, and paddling information.


CLASS I-II     20.6 miles
The take-out on the map is really bad advice. If you'd rather not paddle for 3 hours across a still lake after a 5-6 hour trip down the river then one of the two ramps at Winged Deer Park right as you come into the lake would be advisable. There is another ramp right by the tracks at the town of Watauga which is where the majority of people end their trip cutting another hour of almost still-water paddling off the trip. Says Brandon Goins

    worked as a Iocal commercial guide on this section of the Watauga River in most all types of weather conditions and I would rate this section of the Watauga River AW Class I-II+(III), especially at the Bee Cliff Rapdis -
the first main rapids area after input at the TVA Wilbur Dam site - especially when light rains during cloudy days can add to visibilty being greatly reduced at the Bee Cliff Rapids (I once witnessed a canoe flip end-over-end in a fog bank). The Bee Cliff Rapids are also for some reason (mistaken or purposely) referred by some North Carolina-based rafting companies to their customers as the 'Anaconda Rapids' - if you are not aware of this fact,  
you may end up paying significantly more for a rafting trip on this section of the Watauga River. The Tennessee Valley Authority releases the seasonally scheduled impounded resevoir water from the TVA Wilbur Dam at approximately 1:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday (the main input is just below Wilbur Dam and southeast of Elizabethton, Tennessee). This section of the Watauga River that flows through Elizabethton (Carter County) and is a popular commercial destination for both commercial rafting and fishing float tour companies from both eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina choosing to run this section of the Watauga River as many naturally flowing rivers in this Northeast Tennessee region (such as the Nolichucky River in Unicoi County, Tennessee ) are very dependent upon regular rainfall during the hot summer months. There is limited parking available at the one TVA parking lot by the putin entrance and at the at the Carter County owned putin itself. The water temperature of the Watauga River is around 52 degrees F. The main take-out used by locals (private and commercial) is found approximately two hours (seven miles) from Wilbur Dam at the Elizabethton Linear Trail Park in the Blackbottom community, while some North Carolina companies take out at a city industrial park just minutes below the Hunter Bridge (approximately one hour downstream of the TVA Wilbur Dam), and if you have the time you could float down to other lesser used takeouts at Sycamore Shoals State Park (however, park vehicles at the city owned Franklin Pool parking lot if putting in at Wilbur Dam during the late afternoon hours). This section of the Watauga River should also be listed by River Facts under the Great Smokey Mountains page. Says Robert Ritchie

The map for the Watauga River Tennessee whitewater - Watauga, Carter County should instead zoom in on Elizabethton at pinpoint the TWRA launch (takeout) at the concrete Hunter Bridge located one hour downstream of the TVA Wilbur Dam putin, the Blackbottom takeout at Riverside in Elizabethton located two hours downstream of the TVA Wilbur Dam putin (preferred), and at Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethton located two and one half hours downstream of the TVA Wilbur Dam putin . Says Robert Ritchie

Watauga, Watauga Reservoir to Boone Lake road map
Printable road map with the put-in and take-out locations clearly marked.


Detailed Map

Stats for this river stretch

Local weather forecast

These outdoors activities are available near Watauga.
 Whitewater Near Watauga:
Doe River, Carter County, 9 miles away
      Class II-III - 8.5 miles long (Hampton to Elizabethton)
Watauga, Carter/ Washington County, 11 miles away
      Class I-II - 20.6 miles long (Watauga Reservoir to Boone Lake)
Doe River - Laurel Fork, -blank- County, 13 miles away
      Class IV-V(V+) - 5 miles long (Dennis Cove to Hampton)
Doe River, Carter County, 13 miles away
      Class III-IV - 5.7 miles long (Blevins Bridge on Bear Cage Road to Highway 19E bridge)
Holston River, Sullivan County, 15 miles away
      Class I-II - 10 miles long (South Holston Dam to Boone Lake)
Nolichucky River, Unicoi/ Washington County, 16 miles away
      Class II+(III) - 0 miles long (Big Rocks)
Whitewater Outfitter - Cherokee Adventures, Unicoi County, 17 miles away
      Whitewater outfitter
Doe River, Carter County, 17 miles away
      Class II-III - 4.6 miles long (Crabtree to Blevins Bridge on Bear Gauge Road)
Nolichucky River, Unicoi County, 18 miles away
      Class III-IV - 8 miles long (Poplar North to Nolichucky Gorge Campground)
Nolichucky River, Mitchell/ Unicoi County, 18 miles away
      Class III-IV - 8.1 miles long (Rt 197 Poplar to 19/23 Close to Erwin)
 Ski Areas Near Watauga:
Wolf Ridge, North Carolina , 29 miles away, 700 foot drop, 5 lifts, 20 runs
Ski Beech, North Carolina , 30 miles away, 830 foot drop, 10 lifts, 15 runs
Sugar Mountain, North Carolina , 33 miles away, 1200 foot drop, 8 lifts, 20 runs
Hawksnest, North Carolina , 34 miles away, 619 foot drop, 4 lifts, 12 runs
Appalachian Mountain, North Carolina , 44 miles away, 365 foot drop, 5 lifts, 9 runs
Cataloochee, North Carolina , 72 miles away, 740 foot drop, 4 lifts, 10 runs
Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee , 96 miles away, 600 foot drop, 3 lifts, 8 runs
 Marinas Near Watauga:
Davis Marina, Blountville , 7 miles away
Rockingham Marina, Johnson City , 9 miles away
Fish Springs Marina, Hampton , 9 miles away
Laurel Marina Dealership, Bristol , 10 miles away
Lakeview Marina & RV Park, Kingsport , 10 miles away
 Hotels Near Watauga:
Quality Inn Johnson City, Johnson City , 6 miles away
Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Johnson City, Johnson City , 7 miles away
Red Roof Inn Johnson City, Johnson City , 7 miles away
Super 8 Johnson City, Johnson City , 7 miles away
Best Western Johnson City Hotel & Conference Center, Johnson City , 7 miles away
 Campgrounds Near Watauga:
River Ridge Campground, Watauga, 2 miles away
Lakeview RV Park, Bluff City, 4 miles away
Earhart Station, Bristol, 8 miles away
 Trails Near Watauga:
Old Dug Trail, Carter , 5 miles away
Stone Mountain Trail, Carter , 8 miles away
Pinnacle Tower Trail, Unicoi , 11 miles away
Limestone Cove Trail, Unicoi , 12 miles away
Stamping Ground Trail, Unicoi , 12 miles away
 Public Lands Near Watauga:
Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville - NC , 48 miles away
Sycamore Shoals State Park, Tennessee , 10 miles away
Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee , 11 miles away
Warriors Path State Park, Tennessee , 15 miles away
 Golf Courses Near Watauga:
Elizabethton Golf Course, Elizabethton , 3 miles away
City Of Johnson City, Johnson City , 6 miles away
Pine Oaks Golf Course, Johnson City , 7 miles away
 Lakes Near Watauga
Boone Lake, Sullivan , 11 miles away
Watauga Lake, Carter , 11 miles away
South Holston Lake, Sullivan , 16 miles away

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