GAF 2011 is here, and it looks like it's going to be another awesome event! We just found out that our featured attraction, the King BMX Stunt Show, is actually the halftime show for Sunday night's Steelers/Colts NFL game. The weather looks like it's going to cooperate, and the music lineup features five excellent bands. So it's a bummer to focus this blog on the mundane logistics of parking and shuttles, but since we're in a remote river gorge, it's just necessary.
We anticipate Saturday morning and mid afternoon will be the only times when remote parking will be necessary. Friday, Saturday night and Sunday should be like busy summer days; parking may still be challenging, but it shouldn't require a shuttle. (We'll start running shuttles if necessary though.)
So, what should you expect if you show up at 10am Saturday? The driving bridge will likely be crowded, and you'll probably have event staff directing you to a suitable spot. It could take a bit longer than normal though due to the volume of cars and our desire to use every possible inch of parking-friendly terrain. Please be patient with our staff.
If NOC gets filled up with cars, or if you just want to go ahead and park, then you can drive the 2.2 miles up Silvermine Road to our main satellite parking area. This is a pretty drive, and you'll get to see some beautiful and hidden countryside on the way. Here it is on a map:
We like this spot because it's flat, it's easy to service with quick shuttles and it's gravel, so it's weather-proof. We should have an attendant there to help maximize the parking potential of the lot. Please note that the lot closes at 8pm, so it'd be good to move your car back to NOC after mid-day when some of the GAF gridlock clears out.
Our staff will be positioned at the entrance to Silvermine Rd., and we will have signage along the way to help direct you to the lot. A handy rule of thumb is to just stay on the paved road though.
If things get really busy you may see us open an additional lot at Raging Rivers Rafting Company. These guys have kindly extended their parking lot to us as a neighborly gesture, but we're only planning to use it if necessary. (Having one lot make shuttles easier for guests and staff alike.)
Perhaps you'll recognize their outpost:
So that's the deal with parking. We're not using some of the grass lots we have used in the past, because we don't want guests to get stuck if it storms, and we don't want to tear up our neighbors' yards.
As for camping, there's just not any room for camping on NOC property during the event. We need the parking areas to remain parking areas and not campgrounds. There is abundant camping in the Nantahala National Forest and at area campgrounds for a modest fee.
NOC simply can't service the event, normal rafting operations and camping simultaneously. We recognize this is frustrating for guests who have camped here in the past or taken advantage of our usually lax policies on camping during the rest of the year. We apologize.
We really encourage guests to pursue an off-campus sleeping plan. We don't like ruining anyone's plans, but we will have security patrolling the property and ensuring that event policies are respected.
Please note that some registered vendors and event staff are allowed to stay with their property during the festivities, and this means they will be allowed to sleep on NOC's campus. That's just part of the deal, and part of how we're able to host this fun and free event.