It's hot now, and it's only going to get hotter: Atlanta, Charlotte, Greensboro, Columbia and Knoxville are all preparing for four 100° days spanning this weekend.
So, we created a top-ten list of ways to cool down here at NOC. Whitewater rafting always offers refreshing summer fun, but we tried to focus on some other options to mix things up a bit. So, here it goes:
1. Paddling the Nantahala: Whether you kayak, canoe, stand-up-paddleboard or raft the Nantahala, the river's famously cold temperatures are going to feel great this weekend. Sure, sometimes "the Nanty" is a bit chilly, but not now. The beautiful, shaded river will be the best place in the entire Southeast to cool off this weekend.
2. Get a Chilly Pad: A Chilly Pad? These cooling towels are amazing. Just wet one, and it starts to cool to the touch immediately. Technically there's nothing unusual going on (it's just evaporation), but you'll swear there's more to it. We've got this high-demand item stocked up at the Outfitter's Store and at NOC Gatlinburg, so pick one up before you go hiking or biking, and you'll be much more comfortable.
3. Lake Paddling on Fontana Lake: NOC offers guided tours and rentals of the Nantahala channel of Lake Fontana. Starting below Big Wesser rapid--the Nantahala's last hurrah--paddlers enjoy a two-hour round trip out to spectacular Bird Falls.
4. Catch the Breeze: NOC's new Zip Line Adventure Park uses wind, not water, for its cooling effect. After soaring down an almost-600' zip, climbers take on a series of high-altitude, high-exposure challenges. These include additional zips, wobbling obstacles and fun climbing puzzles. Located at the Nantahala, the Zip Line Adventure Park compliments Nantahala River trips with an additional two hours of excitement.
5. Surf School: Yes, you can surf in a river. And, just like surfing at the beach, it's a blast. Join NOC Paddling School instructors at NOC's Nantahala River campus for a free surfing session almost every summer Saturday. They've got kayaks and stand up paddleboards available for casual demos. Guests can just paddle around in a calm, flat eddy, or they can venture into the small, but exciting Surf School Wave. Either way NOC instructors are only steps away with encouragement and support.
6. High Altitude Hiking: Temperatures tend to drop 3-5° for every 1,000' of elevation you gain. So, Clingman's Dome in the Smokies, which is 5,895' higher than downtown Charlotte should be around twenty degrees cooler. Good, cool, high-elevation hikes include Andrews Bald and most hikes starting from the parking area at Newfound Gap (if your goal is staying cool, drive up to the 5,046' gap and start there). Our guides at NOC Gatlinburg know the best hike for any situation. Stop by and ask for some free advice.
7. The Famous Cool Jewel: The signature dessert at River's End Restaurant. This tasty, cool snack requires smothering a scoop of vanilla ice cream in granola, chocolate and caramel syrup. Easy to make. Easier to enjoy!
8. Rapid Transit: If you really can't enjoy the sizzling outdoors, then you can compromise. Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in a comfortable, climate-controlled car, or enjoy an open air car with the breeze blowing through. You'll be able to see great Smokies scenery without baking in the sun. And after the train ride you'll enjoy lunch and a rafting trip on the refreshing Nantahala River.
9. Treat the Heat: If you're serious about outdoor recreation eventually you'll need to learn about thermoregulation both in hot and cold environments. SOLO Wilderness Medicine classes, like the basic Wilderness First Aid certification, show you how to manage these medical issues and others while having fun outside. The next course starts July 14th.
10. Frosty Brews and Riverside Tunes: Weekly microbrewery tastings at The Pourover make great opportunities to relax after a day of playing in the summer sun. Upcoming events feature the Nantahala Brewing Company and Lonerider Brewery. Cool drinks are on tap every night at The Pourover, and the shady riverside atmosphere always provides an ideal place to chill out. The tastings and the live music schedule just make a good thing even better.