Nantahala National Forest Guide

Nantahala National Forest covers over 530,000 acres of land located in the southwestern area of North Carolina. The forest is managed by three ranger districts covering six counties. Established in 1920, Nantahala National Forest offers visitors opportunities for camping, fishing, white-water rafting, and over 600 miles of hiking trails. Featuring everything from stunning scenic drives to thrilling white-water rapids, there truly is something for everyone at Nantahala National Forest. 

RV Rentals Near Nantahala National Forest

Shape Hiking Trails

Nantahala National Forest Hiking Trails

Things to Do

Activities in Nantahala National Forest

map-marker-alt-regular How to Get There

How to get to Nantahala National Forest

Address: National Forest Road, Bryson City, Nantahala, NC 28713

Fee: Entry fee $0

Offering stunning views and thrilling white-water rafting across three ranger districts, Nantahala National Forest is the perfect stop on your RV road trip through North Carolina. Whether you prefer to spend your time shopping and exploring historic estates or tackling a steep hike to take in the views atop a local mountain, you’re sure to find something to fuel your wandering soul in The Nantahala.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Nantahala National Forest

Is Nantahala National Forest open all year round?

Yes Nantahala National Forest is open all year-round. The forest is open 24 hours a day as well, although some areas are day-use only.

Can you kayak, canoe, or raft in Nantahala National Forest?

Yes, you can kayak, canoe, or raft in Nantahala National Forest. There is plenty of whitewater rafting available, in fact, and several outfitters in the area provide guides and all the equipment for rafting the river.

What is the closest town to Nantahala National Forest?

Fairview, NC is one of the closest towns to the Nantahala National Forest. Bryson City, where the forest headquarters lie, is also near the forest.

What type of wildlife lives in Nantahala National Forest?

Among the wildlife that lives in Nantahala National Forest are deer, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, river otters, beavers, and porcupines. The forest is also home to many types of birds, and a variety of fish live in the forest lakes and streams.

Does Nantahala National Forest offer free camping sites?

Yes, Nantahala National Forest has free camping. Dispersed camping is allowed in much of the forest, and Lake Santeetlah is a popular spot. Dispersed campers need to bring everything including water with them, and leave no trace when they finish camping.