Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GAF 2012 Live Music Preview

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about the musicians coming to this year’s Guest Appreciation Festival! If my boss would allow it, I would take the two days off, buy myself a pint of Noon Day IPA, (Nantahala Brewing is coming out for a beer-tasting on Friday from 5-8pm) and park myself at Slow Joe’s to enjoy the melodious bliss that will go long into the night. But since that's not an option, I wrote up the following preview to give you all a glimpse of the treats we've prepared for you.

Friday at 2pm, NOC welcomes Bryson City blue-grass legends, The Freight Hoppers. Bradley Adams and the band will treat you to hard-driving old-time music with an emotional, raw excitement that keeps one foot planted in the past and the other in the present. Looked at geographically, the Freight Hopper’s music can be said to span from Mississippi to West Virginia, and but it’s never more relevant than right here in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.

At 5pm, Vertigo Jazz Project will take the stage to help rid you of any outdated expectations you may have of what “jazz music” is or might be.  This Asheville band pulls its inspiration from many sources, including Latin, funk, and even pop music, and the result is an upbeat, original, yet studied sound that is truly 21st century. Be ready to dance!

Finally, Friday evening at about 8pm, don’t miss the Packway Handle Band from Athens, Georgia. To quote Splice Today, “The Packway Handle Band mixes dark themes and old-time religion with a uniquely modern folk aesthetic that pins down just what American music is all about.” PHB first won national acclaim as finalists at the Telluride bluegrass competition in 2002, and has been blowing away audiences around the country since 2006 with their thought-provoking lyrics and genuine sense of humor.

The Packway Handle Band, masters of alt-bluegrass, have been one of NOC's
most popular acts over the past two seasons. 

Saturday, when you come down from the Cascades, we’ve arranged to bring in Asheville’s Archrivals for your listening pleasure. Their jazz-rock fusion is made for chillin’ or for dancin’, so whether you’re looking to put your feet up and enjoy a cold brew, or ramp up your energy level for the long party ahead, you’ll enjoy this smooth, unique, groovy sound.

Then, at 8pm, the Secret B-Sides are back for an encore show from earlier this season. Old school R&B sensibilities coupled with a touch of funk and neu-soul make these guys are the reigning kings of soul in Western North Carolina. Juan Holliday and the band will fire up the tunes just as we light the bonfire to keep away the early-autumn chill.

The Secret B-Sides play their third GAF in 2012. The band's signature
funk sound always gets the celebration going strong.  

Both Friday and Saturday, after you’ve worn out the bands, stick around for NOC’s annual dance party, dj’ed by the good folks from Ride Garden. This September 28-29th, the music won’t stop till the first rays morning kiss the uppermost peaks of the towering smokies.

GAF Parking and Camping Information

A lot of folks will be joining us at GAF on September 28th – 30th, and we want to make sure that logistical confusion and parking don't mar anyone’s good time. Below, I’ve outlined our parking plan for GAF 2012. Read up before you come so you can all spend less time worrying about your car, and more time enjoying the festival.

GAF 2012 will feature the first ever recreational releases on the
Class IV/V Cascades section of the Nantahala.


We plan to use our existing on-campus parking most of Friday and Sunday. When you arrive at NOC, drive across the bridge and let our friendly parking staff direct you to an open spot. Please take their advice, and park efficiently so everyone can park on-property.

Saturday morning and early afternoon are the peak parking times at GAF. If on-property parking is full or if you just want to go ahead and get settled, turn up Silvermine Road, across the street from the Outfitter's Store.  NOC staff will be stationed at the mouth of Silvermine Rd. (near the Wesser General Store & Fly Shop) with maps and directions to approved lots. Please don't park alongside Silvermine road. We've seen too many festival attendees get tickets on this road over the years, even though it looks like there are pullouts.

The first satellite lot is located approximately ¾ of a mile up Silvermine Rd (within walking distance for many people). It is a fenced grass lot on the right hand side, and will be clearly marked with a special event parking sign. There will be an attendant on hand to help you park efficiently.

As this lot fills up, cars will be directed further along Silvermine Rd. to the second satellite lot 2.2 miles up the road. You will want to be sure you stay on the main paved road as you drive up Silvermine until you see the second marked lot. It usually only takes about five minutes to drive to this lot, so don't worry about the distance. The lot is nicely graveled, and because we are only running shuttles in one direction we can service the lots very frequently. No one should have to wait more than 10 minutes to get a ride.

In the unlikely case that we fill up both of our Silvermine parking locations, we will open an additional lot at the Ruby Mine near Bud Dill’s gas station, just east of NOC on Hwy. 19/74. Please don’t park in this lot unless directed to do so by NOC staff, because we’ll only be running shuttles in this direction once we fill the other lots.

Finally, NOC is offering free shuttles to the Wayah Forest Service Put-In for those who choose to leave their cars off property while they are on the river. We usually do this as a thank you to guests helping us avoid a parking crunch during Saturday at GAF. In other words, if you paddle into GAF we'd be glad to drive you back to your car when you're finished. (Just make sure you catch the last rafting bus headed to the put in around 3:30. It should be very easier to thumb a ride to the top with another boater this weekend anyway.)

Please note that all GAF remote lots close at 7pm. We’d love for you to stay to enjoy the free live music and dancing, so please make your way up to the lots as the afternoon wears on to move your cars back down to the center. It’ll make life easier for you when it’s time to go home.


As in years past, we are unfortunately unable to accommodate camping on campus or in remote lots during GAF. There are simply so many people rafting, dancing, shopping and playing that it's impossible to accommodate everyone.  Check out our lodging page for great tips on camping and lodging close by.

We will have off-duty law enforcement on campus throughout the event to make sure that everyone has a good, safe time. They’ll also be helping us with our no-camping policy, so it's important to make sleeping plans ahead of time. Please note that some registered vendors and event staff will be spending the night on campus to keep an eye on everything; they have been accounted for in the event plan and are exceptions to the no camping standard.

So, that's the deal. Guests who know the parking plan and who make appropriate sleeping plans will find this year's event really fun and really easy. We appreciate the preparation, and we can't wait to see you at GAF!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Reasons to Raft This Fall

School is back in session, football is on TV and there's Halloween candy at the big box stores. So, in some ways the fall season is here. But throughout most of the South average high temperatures will remain in the 80's and 70's throughout September and October. So, just because summer is in the books doesn't mean the outdoor season is over. In fact, it's about to be the best months of the year for outdoor recreation.

So here is a short list of the five best reasons to get out for a rafting trip this fall:

#1: Color

Fall brings beautiful foliage and picturesque scenery around the region.  What better way to take in the changing leaves than from a raft in the middle of a beautiful river gorge? And rafting can be as active as you want: a brisk float on the Nantahala or an exciting rush through the Five Falls on Chattooga Section IV.
Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains. Looking to the Nantahala Gorge.

#2 Crowds

Everybody likes the summer, so most of the summer crowds are gone by fall.  This means paddlers enjoy an intimate feeling out on the river.  You won't be bumping into many other rafts or kayakers.  On some rivers it will feel like just you, your group and the river. 
Small trip down the Nantahala.

#3 Cost

As fall rolls in, so do fall prices. You can save anywhere from 15-30% off peak season rates.  These are the same great trips, same rivers, same service, better prices--and perhaps better scenery. Note that some rivers do not run as late into the fall as others, so start planning a fall trip today.
All the fun of a summer trip at the fall price!

#4 Cool Weather

The sweltering heat is replaced with simply pleasant weather. Instead of sweating or being too hot, fall brings in crisp air.  Don't worry though, NOC offers splash jackets to keep you dry so you stay comfortable on the river.  You'll get more gear to sport, and you'll look more fashionable in NOC's couture river gear.
These pumped up rafters aren't even thinking about the fall color in the middle of  the Chattooga's Five Falls.

#5 Create a Getaway

There's "Spring Break" and "Summer Vacation" but nothing for fall? Take a weekend and make your own "Fall Getaway." Rafting can make for a quick and easy break for families, friends or coworkers.  NOC offers rafting trips into late October on some rivers, so you will have plenty of time to fit in a river trip between now and then.
Rivers End: Open all four seasons for riverside dining!

Fall Rates for 2012

It's not time to put your swimsuits away just yet! Take advantage of NOC's Fall Rafting Rates during the next two months.  NOC Fall Rates vary for each river and have different start dates. Every trip is the same exact trip in all ways, (guides, gear, service, etc.) just at a special off-season rate

Fall Rafting Rates Schedule
(Rates are discounted off of Summer Pricing)

25% off now through the end of September
30% off in October

20% off through the end of the season

15% off in October

25% off in October

2012 ICF World Cup - Mid Competition Update

The 2012 ICF World Cup is in full swing, with the first two competitions complete and the final event starting Friday. Over 100 paddlers from around the world will be trying to win the grand finale at NOC. So far the athletes are "bringing it" and drawing big crowds. Interested in the action? Click the link below to check out photos from the second event.

Brendon Orton from Great Britain gets huge air at the Pigeon World Cup

Take a look at these photos from the World Cup Pigeon River Event.

World Cup Final
The final World Cup event will be held on the Nantahala at one of the most spectator-friendly environments anywhere. Park at NOC and have full access to both the Nantahala River and the World Cup events: you can raft or paddle the river and then stick around for free music in the evening. Even non-paddlers will enjoy the exciting event atmosphere and riverside amenities at NOC. So come out and join us!

Remember, this is it: the final dry run for athletes and judges before next year's World Championships.

Craig Kleckner representing his countries' competitors on and off the river

Competition starts on September 7th with the Award Ceremony on September 9th.  Throughout the event you can look forward to face painting and other kids activities from 1-3pm everyday to keep your family entertained.  There will be live music for entertainment in the evening on the 8th and 9th.

Click here for more information about the World Cup Final
Click here for full results from the Rock Island and Pigeon World Cups

Can't make it to the World Cup Final?
Watch a live feed of the action at the Nantahala Feature online!