Difficulty IV-V
Length 9.25 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 2500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 105 [CFS]
Next Release
Reach Info Last Updated 05/08/2019 3:04 pm

River Description

The Cheoah River is located in the extreme southwestern corner of NC, near Robbinsville. For 77 years the nine-mile section between the Santeetlah Dam and Lake Calderwood was dewatered. American Whitewater along with the Western North Carolina Paddlers advocated for releases for over 6 years.  Whitewater releases on the Cheoah began in the fall of 2005.  Each year there are at least 18 releases for paddlers to enjoy for the next 40 years.

The Cheoah is unusual for rivers of its volume in the Southeast in that its gradient is relatively constant. This means that with the exception of 2 or 3 half mile or so sections, it is unusually continuous, more so than anything else with a similar volume of water in the Southeast. Some call it "warm western-style paddling;" those paddling it at the higher winter 2002 flows continued the Western analogies, comparing it to Pine Creek on the Arkansas and the Lochsa at high water. No doubt contributing to the analogies was the water quality, which was crystal clear during the winter flows. It has become a classic southeastern run.

The portion of the Cheoah from Outland Gas and Grocery to Lake Calderwood can be broken into three sections: a 1.5 mile brushy and tree-clogged upper section with a number of sticky holes and a potentially troublesome river-wide ledge a bit downstream of the hydroelectric bypass pipe, a 4 mile relatively open and mild middle section that features some nice wave trains at higher water levels, and a 1.5 mile lower section with the most gradient and the best defined drops.  Efforts have been made to clear channels in the upper sections of the river, however there are large root balls scattered throughout the stream bed and swimmers should be extremely careful.

At flows of about 1000 cfs or under, the upper section is about a half grade and the middle section a full grade easier than the lower section, with the first two sections similar in difficulty to the Ocoee. The risks are greater, however, as much of the channel is heavily lined with trees and brush, giving the run a nature akin to paddling during a flood. The main technical challenge is presented by the frequent series of offset holes. Because of the trees and brush, it is not a good place to paddle if you don't have a rock-solid roll and the ability to read water well on the fly (bank scouting would not be fun).

The lower section is the best defined, with a number of classic drops. It begins at the bridge on which the Bearpen Gap gauge is located. My favorites were the sequence of four drops with the biggest single drop on the river (a ledge about 8 feet high) being the third and the drop beginning at the bridge downstream of the Tapoco Lodge. There were many, many waves to surf and a number of very playable holes, including two potential rodeo sites: one at Tapoco Lodge and one at the end of the drop beginning at the bridge downstream of the Lodge.

At the highest level paddled during the summer test releases (4.7 feet / 1,130 cfs), the upper and lower sections were much closer in difficulty as the offset holes were beginning to get sticky. The hole below the river-wide ledge was beginning to look scary at this level; recovery after a swim would be challenging due to the thickets of trees growing in the water and on both banks for a considerable distance downstream. The lower section didn't change much, so the result was a run that was a lot more fun but not any scarier (assuming strong class IV skills, and keeping in mind that the Ocoee only requires strong class III skills). If more of the trees and brush were removed, the upper run would almost certainly get easier at every level as paddlers wouldn't be forced to run through the meat of the holes and the entrapment danger would be lower.

For the upcoming schedule of releases see: http://www.smokymountainhydro.com/content/about/santeetlah-35694.html.

Be sure to stop by the store near the put in and buy a US Forest Service wrist band for each day you paddle.

See also Chris Bell's Asheville-Area Boating Beta Page.





4.15' / 670 cfs

  The Cheoah River near Bearpen Gap near Tapoco, NC gauge is located at the bridge that marks the beginning of the lower section of the run. The cfs values for flows over 4.70 feet are estimates; the USGS has not calibrated the gauge for flows greater than those observed during the July, 2000 test releases. The river can be run at 670 cfs, but I would need at least 800 cfs to be willing to make the two hour drive from Asheville. As reflected in the ratings, the Cheoah gets harder as it rises -- especially the upper section, which is reported to be very dangerous at 6.8'. 5.3' is a very exciting, challenging level providing a thrilling ride unlike anything else to be found in the Eastern US; levels over 6' are probably too high for mere mortals on all but the middle section. These ratings are based on the river's current tree and brush-clogged status. If at some point some of these trees and brush are removed, easier lines will open up and the penalty for mistakes will be lower.


4.50' / 950 cfs


4.55' / 1010 cfs


4.70' / 1130 cfs


5.3' / 1840 cfs?


6.8' / 4000 cfs?


 Video Podcast about the Cheoah Relicensing

AW's Kevin Colburn and Jeff Paine talk with John Grace of Lunch Video Magazine about the Cheoah relicensing project.

LVMTV :: Monday Morning Madhouse 3/16; American Whitewater's successes with Cheoah Releases from Lunch Video Magazine on Vimeo.

Rapid Descriptions


Class - Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
There is a nice forest service put-in just down from the dam.

First diversion pipe

Class - Mile - 0.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Nice pipe about 30 feet above the river with some very mellow fast moving current under it. The next time you see this sucker, things will pick up.

Craik's Ledge

Class - III+ Mile - 0.7
In the first mile and a half after some fast moving flatwater comes a three foot tall ledge. The middle has a rather strong hole with a major backwash at 1500 cfs. At 1000, the ledge can still throw boats vertical and recirculate swimmers. Fortunately there is a big eddy on the right to gather up gear. This rapid was run for the very first time during the Sept 17th release since this section was too over grown to be run during the test releases and the natural flows. Craik Davis helped with that cleanup effort that opened this up and was the first one over the top ledge on the morning of 9/17. He also got munched by the hydrolic & SWAM. The rapid is named in honor of his hard work and unfortunate incident that ended his run very early that day. FYI - Craik did have a successfull run of that ledge & the entire river during the Oct 1 release.

The rapid above the pipe

Class - IV Mile - 2.85
A little past the grocery store you'll see that giant diversion pipe crossing over the river again. Things are about to pick up!! The next three miles are Non-stop action!! There are still trees both in the riverbed and clogging most otherwise usable eddies. The pace starts to pick up here, with a long Class 3-4 approaching the water diversion pipe. Between the diversion pipe and the swinging bridge are a good series of back to back drops with some very stiff holes. There are still a lot of trees in this stretch to be avoided. Just below the swinging bridge there are good eddies on the right to scout the dam below.

Swinging Bridge Rapid

Class - III+ Mile - 2.89
Swinging bridge rapid is the approch to the dam. Lots of routes but in the end you're going to be in a big eddy with a blind horizon line behind you. Depending on the water levels, there are a couple of large holes in the approach you will have to deal with.

Wilma's Ledge aka God's Dam

Class - IV+ Mile - 2.9
Below the pipe and swinging bridge, the Cheoah drops over an six-foot lowhead dam. At higher levels (above six feet/2000 cfs), the hole is terminal. At medium levels (above five feet/1400 cfs), a direct line opens up on the far right, but the preferred line here is a creeky double-drop on the left, threading the needle between two patches of trees. At lower water (below five feet/1000 cfs), you can power over the middle of the ledge. The difficulty of this rapid, along with all of them on the upper portion of the Cheoah, remains the lack of eddies, countless strainers on both sides of the river and sometimes mid-stream, and powerful holes and pushy water.


Class - IV+ Mile - 3.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Immediately after Wilma's Ledge, the road pulls away from the Cheoah for really the only time. Strainers fill the eddies and directly below lies one of the Cheoah's toughest and longest rapids. Takeout, named in honor of many early Cheoah pioneers who ended their day early here. Takeout is difficult to scout due to the brush lined banks that are littered with poison ivy. Huge holes abound here. One of the large river left holes at the top of the rapid has a bad piton/pin rock to be avoided. On the bottom right is a large boulder that sends you toward larger holes. Once the trees are removed, at normal levels it should rate a solid 4, and easy class 5 above 1500. Around 1800 it kicks up to solid class 5. In any case, be sure to scout this one before you launch; otherwise, it may force you to "takeout" after being thoroughly hammered. At the bottom right of the rapid there is a good spot to exit the river, usually marked by a plethora of on duty rescue folks.


Class - Mile - 3.12
This ledge represents the entrance to Takeout and consists of a nasty riverwide hydraulic. We would have run a sneak river right, but as you can tell, there was a forest in the way. As with lots of these photos, taken with a cheap disposable waterproof camera, the perspective is a bit off. This ledge is about four feet tall.

Takeout/First Drop

Class - Mile - 3.13
This is the second drop at Takeout. As you can tell, its difficulty lies in the pushiness of the water, the size of the holes, and most importantly, the TREES! Because of these factors, Takeout at this water level is nearly unreasonable.

Typical Upper Cheoah Scene

Class - IV Mile - 3.5
This is a typical scene on the upper part of the Cheoah. I can't stress the tree-problem enough. They are everywhere! Continuous Class III-IV rapids.

Typical Rapid on the Middle Cheoah - Yellow Creek Rapid.

Class - IV Mile - 4.5
This is a typical rapid on the middle part of the Cheoah. This middle section opens up considerably from the tree-infested upper part. It's about five miles of rapids like this: big, pushy, very similar to Gauley rapids but much, much more continuous. This section is not as demanding as the tighter upper two miles, largely because of the lack of trees and the larger riverbed with wider rapids and more routes through them.

Land of Holes

Class - IV Mile - 5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The so-called Land of Holes is a three-quarter mile section of continuous Class IV whitewater with few eddies and no respite. I think Land of Holes is one of the very best parts of the Cheoah. Not much beats long, beautiful, and continuous Class IV boogie water.

The deadend pool

Class - I Mile - 6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Pretty much the only big patch of calm water on the entire run at levels of 1500 and 1000. THE Eddy is in a right hand bend of the river.

The easy stuff

Class - III Mile - 6.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Below the eddy, you take a cut thru some brush to get back in the main channel of current. Evidently there is an island that quite a bit of water goes around, but the entrance is clogged with brush. The next mile is mostly mellow non-stop class 2-3 read and run, with a few good class 3's tossed into to keep you on your toes. As of Oct. 2005 there was still quite a bit of wood in this stretch, but its fairly easy to avoid.

The Forest Service Bridge

Class - Mile - 7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Once you see the next bridge, be ready for the Cheoah's final 2 mile mad dash to the lake. This signifies the start of the lower portion of the Cheoah, where the rapids will accelerate back up to IV-V and soon plunge through a large and very long Class V rapid. This is also an alternate put-in for the Lower Cheoah.

Rod's Hole

Class - III Mile - 7.1
One of the best play spots on the entire river is about a quarter mile past the bridge. Big eddy on river left and a riverwide wave. The wave is a bit flushy in the middle but will give up lots of good moves if you have the skills.

Entrance to Bear Creek Rapid

Class - IV+ Mile - 7.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The entrance rapid to Bear Creek is nearly as difficult as the drop itself. Its best to grab an eddy at the top of the approach, to scout the approach, the falls, and the hole at the bottom of bear creek. The Entrance is long and pushy, and suprisingly steep abounding with large waves and holes. The horizon line downstream is the big drop. Routes vary dramatically depending on levels, but at most flows you can catch one last eddy above the falls on the right.

The Falls

Class - V Mile - 7.5
Bear Creek Falls is the largest vertical drop on the Cheoah. It's about 12 feet tall and found not far upstream from Tapoco Lodge. The lower two miles of the Cheoah drop 106 and 146 feet. This represents a whitewater experience on a mid-volume river not often found in the Southeast. At all water levels, the river right line consisting of a slide into a trashy hole is the normal route. At flows of 1000 you can boof off the right center of the falls. A left boof toward the eddy will land on rocks. At medium water levels (above 1500), I think the best line here is a gorgeous far left boof. The added water will allow you to miss the rocks on the eddyline, but you will be playing very close to them. At higher water (over six feet), the only reasonable line is river right. Set safety because the rapid downstream is hazardous. 

Bear Creek Rapid (The Slide)

Class - V Mile - 7.51
The next set of rapids, combined with the drop, form one of the most demanding parts of the entire river. The start of this rapid is a big slide with a number of route options. From there you have two large holes to punch before you can eddy above the bottom hole. Three fatalities have occurred in this rapid. It should be approached with the utmost caution, with safety set, or run left of the island. 

Bear Creek - The left side of the Island.

Class - IV+ Mile - 7.52
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
aka "The West Prong Line". 5 back to back drops in a channel about 25 feet wide. The drops are about 8 feet tall and 30 feet apart. Get in the middle and boof hard!

Bear Creek Rapid (The Hole)

Class - 5.0 Mile - 7.53
This is a photo of the final hole in the set of rapids below the drop. At mid to high levels, they combine to form one huge rapid. This particular hole can be found at the bottom of the righthand channel. Even at lower to medium levels, this hole is significant, and avoiding it is the toughest part of the Bear Creek Rapid. At levels of 1500 this hole led to a variety of beatdowns and lost gear. Most successful routes were boofing off the left side of the hole. At 1000 cfs there is a minor break in the hole just right of center. The holes backwash is solid at all levels.

Rapids below Bear Creek

Class - IV Mile - 7.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Below Bear Creek and above Tapoco lodge is one very steep stretch of big water. Lots of routes, but basically a half mile of boogie water. Probably 5 or 6 defined drops at 1000 cfs, but they are stacked on top of each other. The closer you get to the lodge the steeper the gradient gets. On river right when tapoco lodge is in sight there is a pinning spot to be aware of. Of course you'll be on that side of the river avoiding the massive pour over thats on river left. You can see it as you're approaching it, so don't let your guard down.

Tapoco Lodge Rapid

Class - IV Mile - 8.4
The rapid alongside Tapoco Lodge is one of the river's best; it funnels into a great playspot almost parallel to the lodge. Below it, enormous waves continue until under the bridge.

Yard Sale

Class - IV Mile - 8.6
After the river crosses under the bridge, it drops into a steep, beautiful mini-gorge. At this point you have 3/10s of a mile before you hit the lake. The first thing you'll notice going under the bridge is that the river goes to one third its previous width. You'll also notice that the bottom is about to drop out, again. Four strong Class IV rapids are hidden in this dark little corner of the run. Just below the bridge are two large (huge?) back to back holes. There is some eddy service below both of them to gather things up. After that are two more big drops then a couple of easy class 3's before you hit the lake.

The Lake

Class - Mile - 9
Notice that the water temp in the lake is about 20 degrees colder than the river temp. This is due to the bottom drawn water coming thru the hydro-power station. Also, note Cheoah Dam, where Harrison Ford's character jumped off of in "The Fugitive."

Calderwood Boat Ramp

Class - Mile - 9.2
Paddle about a quarter mile down the lake. There is a boat ramp that will be obvious.


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Nick Prete
1 year ago

Here's a video of the last 2 miles of the run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMbbh7QwIPk&t=1s

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Curtis Warner
4 years ago

Myself and Craig rowed 13 foot catarafts down the Cheoah this past weekend at 1000cfs. The upper section was a little tight with the brush but half way down it opened up nicely. Craig ran 9 foot oars, l ran 8 footers. Had an awesome time.

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Mark Singleton
4 years ago

Per new water certificate, flows on Sunday releases are now at 1000cfs.

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8 years ago

w2rvck thzaszhxeuye, [url=http://fhqabptgoces.com/]fhqabptgoces[/url], [link=http://lxqmiwfukich.com/]lxqmiwfukich[/link], http://dmezubsrtdus.com/

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Robert Farmer
10 years ago

To see some cool pictures of this section, check out my friend Woody DuBois's photos and videos http://picasaweb.google.com/tm.dubois/20090621Cheoah# . These were taken in 2009. P.S. I'm in the blue Prijon Boxer, number 10 frame.

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10 years ago

Great River! No serious obstructions during the latest release.

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Paul Killian
10 years ago

It is not yet known how he is doing, but thanks to Shayne he was revived and air lifted to Knoxville. If anyone has any more information please post it as it helps us all paddle safer.

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Robert Strangia
13 years ago

Updated Rapid names..... Craik's Ledge, III mile 8.5 Southern Revival, III+, mile 6.4 (first long rapids below the store) Pipewalk, III+ mile 6.3 God's Dam, IV mile 6.2 Jeff's Wood, Class III (rapid below God's Dam) Takeout, IV(IV+)mile 6.1 The lines from right to left... The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly Hancock's Ledge, III+(IV) mile 5.6 Yellow Creek Rapid, III+(IV) mile 5.1 Land of 1000 Holes, IV Mile 4.6 The Dead Sea, mile 3.7 Forest Service Bridge mile 1.9 Rod's Hole, III, mile 1.8 Fear Factor IV+ mile 1.5 (Entrance to Bear Creek Rapid), Bear Creek Falls, IV+ mile 1.1 Tail of the Dragon(River Right), IV mile 0.7 West Prong Line(River Left), IV+ mile 0.7 Tapoco Lodge Rapid, IV mile 0.5 Yard Sale,The Holes... (Cupcake, Beefcake,& Shitcake)IV+ mile 0.4 Fugitive, Class III mile 0.1

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14 years ago

I'd have to call the approach, the falls, and the runout three seperate rapids. With bear creek being the stuff below the falls.

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Kevin Colburn
17 years ago

After a 12,000 cfs spill on 5/7/03 big chunks of the road (129) are gone. So while the Cheoah is running 2G and holding (a VERY GOOD LEVEL), there is really no way to access it that i know of unless you feel like running a 200+ mile shuttle! Call DOT before heading out there. It is possible you could run part of the River but just not the whole thing...

Check out a photo... Notice the debris on the road that shows that there were several more feet of water in the river....


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18 years ago

Some email reports just in over the
weekend. Thought I'd share with the
paddling world.-JTG

Geoff Kohl comments-
Just ran Cheoah with some other
first-timers on Saturday, January 26,
2002, at around six feet, a level we guess
that would equate to something like 2,700
cfs (it dropped to about 5.4 while we were
on the river). It was big, pushy and
thrilling. The Cheoah is definitely an
instant southeastern whitewater classic.
The big ledge and the area immediately
downstream on the right are the only parts
that seem to start to get troubling due to
the nature of some huge offset holes. The
rapid below Tapoco Lodge (past the bridge)
is worth remembering, well-defined lines
with huge hidden holes at five-and-a-half

It could definitely go higher than this,
but I don't think any of these rapids will
wash out--they'll just create more monster

There is one hazard I'd mention, and that
is a set of cables that are in the river
just upstream of the power house (and just
downstream of the below-the-bridge rapid).
Even though I saw them while in an
upstream eddy, I lost track of one
silverish cable and came quite close to it
while paddling downstream. My friend said
he saw black cables in the water too. This
is quite close to the upstream IV rapid
when the water is up, and a paddler in our
group swam just above the cabled section.
Had he not found an eddy, it could have
been a scary situation.
-Geoff Kohl

Scott Hanshaw comments-

Ran it on Sat, Jan 26, 2002. Level was
around 5.5 on the USGS gauge. This
was an unbelievable run! This level is
higher than the test releases, which
made for an incredibly wild ride, But I
can see that at the higher end of
the test levels (900+) This would still be
a great run. A group of us
paddlers from Arkansas would usually make
4+ trips a summer, out east, to
the Ocoee. We have slowed down some in the
last few years because the Ocoee
has lost its "zip". If regularly scheduled
releases were set up on this
river, I'm certain we would be road
tripping often. At the release levels
I'm guessing that the play potential would
be excellent. At this level it
was "hang on to your hat and look out for
the monster holes". Very Sweet!

I will defiantly be watching the gauges
and when it runs again on a weekend
I will be loading up for a road trip!

Keep the rivers flowin'

-Scott Hanshaw

Don Kinser comments-
Ran the Cheoah yesterday at 5.34 feet on
the Bear Pen Gauge (CFS not
available). It was big. There is no way in
hell the section below the bridge
just above the lodge is class 4 at this
level. Much more like class 5+.
Reminded me of Pine Creek on the Arkansas.
It is big, continuous and
unrelenting. Once you went under that
bridge you were committed.

The section above from the little store to
the bridge was outstanding and
totally continuous. Big waves, big holes,
big fun.

There were many people on the river and it
had come down to 5.34 feet from
almost 7 the day before.

Keep up the good work.

-Don Kinser

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Kevin Colburn
18 years ago

The Cheoah got paddled on january 25th, 26th,and 27th at flows ranging from well over 2500 cfs down to 1000 cfs. higher flows were NOT compared to the ocoee, they were compared to the Arkansas Numbers with Pine Creek Rapid at the bottom, like the Lower 5 of the North Fork of the Payette, and like a continuous Lochsa. Even the lower flows were awesome and challenging and aesthetic. The water was clear/blue, the air was 60-70 degrees, the locals were curious and enjoyable to chat with, and the river was incomparable. There is nothing like it left in the Southeast, It is Incredible.

Release Schedule

More Information

We have had releases on this reach but don't show any currently. This information is gathered by the public. If you know about releases then contact us about them. If you would volunteer to enter the releases, then reach out to us.

Gage Descriptions

The Cheoah River near Bearpen Gap near Tapoco, NC gauge is located at the bridge that marks the beginning of the lower section of the run.

Releases should range from 850 CFS to 1000 CFS but are often higher than the required amounts.

The river can be run at 4.15' / 670 cfs, but I would need at least 800 cfs to be willing to make the two hour drive from Asheville. As reflected in the ratings, the Cheoah gets harder as it rises.

5.0'/1500 cfs is a very exciting, challenging level providing a thrilling ride unlike anything else to be found in the Eastern US.

Levels over 6'/2800 cfs are probably too high for mere mortals on all but the middle section. These ratings are based on the river's current tree and brush-clogged status. If at some point some of these trees and brush are removed, easier lines will open up and the penalty for mistakes will be lower.

The upper section is reported to be very dangerous by a group that attempted a run at 6.8'/4000 cfs.

Directions Description

Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 West to Exit 27 (US 19 /23/74/Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). Take US 74 West 46 miles to the point NC 28 splits off to the right toward Almond and Robbinsville and US 74 continues on to the Nantahala Gorge. Take NC 28 11.5 miles to the left onto NC 143. Follow NC 143 8.7 miles to Robbinsville. In Robbinsville turn right onto US 129, following it 16 miles to the take-out at the boat ramp at the end of the little road off US 129 on the far side of the bridge over the Little Tennessee at its confluence with the Cheoah. The river you'll be following the last 9 miles or so of your drive will be the Cheoah.

Shuttle: The run is road side so the shuttle is self explanatory.

Parking: There is a new parking area at the put-in for the run that is owned by the USFS.  There are other parking areas along the river.  Many paddlers use the O'Henry parking area, parking there costs a few dollars, but the money is well spent.  O'Henry is a great local man who openned a parking area and is very paddler friendly.

User Fees: The USFS has a $2 user fee that can be paid at O'Henry's parking area or at Outland Gas and Grocery.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2020-06-20 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2018-03-03 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2014-04-26 Medium Fatality Other Read More
2014-04-17 Medium Injury Other Read More
2010-05-22 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More
2007-04-22 Medium Fatality Other Read More




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A Close Look at Cheoah River Fatalities

Charlie Walbridge

The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not  going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)

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Southeast Advanced Release Dates for 2020

Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. In this post we are pleased to share the 2020 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers.

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Cheoah River Survey Responses Needed (NC) (Update - Results)

Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater was a lead negotiator of the releases on the Cheoah River back in the early 2000's and we now collaboratively review and schedule the releases each year. Paddler attendance at releases in 2019 was significantly lower than in prior years, and we'd like to better understand and share with our partners why that was the case. If you paddled the Cheoah River in the past 2-3 years please take this quick 3-5 minute survey to help ensure we are doing everything we can do to make the Cheoah an awesome resource.

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Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set for 2019!

Kevin Colburn

It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Each year we help schedule these releases in an integrated manner that aims to maximize their recreational value. Read on to see the great line up for 2019! 

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2018 Advanced Southeast Release Schedule Set!

Kevin Colburn

It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Each year we are part of a process to schedule these releases in an integrated manner that aims to maximize their recreational value. Check out the outstanding line up for 2018. 

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Advanced Southeast Releases Set for 2017!

Kevin Colburn

It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Enjoy these incredible opportunities, and be safe out there!

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Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set For 2016!

Kevin Colburn

Tis the season when American Whitewater works with power companies and other groups to schedule the coming year's dam releases in the Southeast. In addition to hundreds of releases on Class I-III rivers like the Nantahala, Tuckasegee, and Catawba, we put together an outstanding integrated schedule of Class IV and V opportunities. Check it out!  

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Cheoah River Restoration Report Released - Thumbs Up!

Kevin Colburn

On June 30, 2009 a report was released that definitively finds that the high flow events that paddlers use on the Cheoah River have no significant biological or stream channel impacts that need to be addressed. American Whitewater is very pleased that the releases on the Cheoah are a good thing for the river, as predicted, and will continue to work to restore the Cheoah River.  

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Rivercane on the Cheoah

Steve Page

American Whitewater recently received a grant which provides an opportunity to explore the reintroduction of rivercane to the Cheoah River.  This grant was provided by Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources which is a Cherokee Preservation Foundation program ultimately funded by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian.  Rivercane is on the decline in the southeast due to development and agriculture.

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Boater Chick Festival to benefit American Whitewater

Ben Van Camp

A group of ladies started a discussion about the need for an all women's paddling event. Plans progressed and the Boater Chick Festival benefiting American Whitewater was born. This first annual festival is a gathering of female boaters in the class II-V whitewater range. The location will be at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, North Carolina on Saturday May 17th and Sunday May 18th. The hope is to encourage women in boating to get more involved, show off, improve their skills, meet other women in boating, paddle together, compete, and celebrate.

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Graham County NC Investing In the Cheoah River

Kevin Colburn

With the final Cheoah releases of the 2007 season behind us, it’s an appropriate time to share a little background on activities in Graham County, NC (the county the Cheoah River flows through).  We are pleased to report that Graham County is investing significant resources into the restoration of the river channel to a more natural condition. 

Kevin Colburn


Thomas O'Keefe


Sutton Bacon


Mark Singleton


Jeff Paine


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1205176 08/05/15 Kevin Colburn Temp map change
1207386 03/29/17 Kevin Colburn permit info
1207123 01/05/17 Thomas O'Keefe abstract added
1207387 03/29/17 Kevin Colburn permit info
1210944 01/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1211515 03/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1210946 01/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1211522 03/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1211523 03/25/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1212029 04/24/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1212171 05/07/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1212172 05/07/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1212191 05/08/19 Kevin Colburn updated description
1192935 03/27/09 Sutton Bacon n/a
1202346 06/25/13 Mark Singleton schedule
1203025 01/24/14 Jeff Paine Updated name of store for section description
1203182 03/18/14 Jeff Paine Updated store name
1203450 06/03/14 Jeff Paine Remove bad encoded characters
1203493 06/18/14 Thomas O'Keefe removed photos