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French Broad Section 9 Whitewater Rafting

*48hr cancellation policy on all trips.

Highlights

  • The only whitewater rafting tour of the French Broad River Gorge (also known as Section 9) that departs from Asheville
  • Beginner-friendly rafting trip through remote, scenic beauty through the gorges of the French Broad River
  • Float through some of the most pristine sections of the French Broad River, with the Appalachian mountains towering overhead
  • Opportunities to pause for a swim and take photos

Important Notice:

We are now entering spring, which means river temps are still cool. For a cozy experience on the river, we recommend you layer your clothing and avoid wearing cotton, which does not wick moisture and increases body heat release. Instead, please stick with wool or other quick-drying synthetic fibers. We do offer wetsuits and splash gear at no extra cost to accommodate cooler weather.

Additionally, we recommend bringing a dry layer to leave on our secure shuttle and a dry change of clothes to put on when you return to The Outpost.

Equipment Provided

  • Inflatable raft
  • Age limit: 8+ (at least 50lbs)
  • Whitewater certified personal floatation device (PFD). We provide high quality PFDs with a weight range of 50 lbs-275 lbs
  • Helmet
  • Paddle

What to Bring

  1. Water shoes; shoes with a heel strap: No flip flops or bare feet!
  2. Comfortable clothing that can get wet
  3. During cooler weather we recommend layering your clothing. Avoid wearing cotton and stick with wool or other quick drying synthetic fibers. Bringing a dry layer to leave on our secure shuttle vehicle can help especially on chilly days. We also recommend bringing a change of clothes for when you return to our outpost. Please avoid wearing cotton as it does not wick moisture and can increase body heat release.

About the Adventure

What to Expect on Your French Broad Section 9 Rafting Adventure

Scenic, remote, and awash with breathtaking beauty, the French Broad Section 9 (FB9) rafting adventure takes you through 5 miles of intermediate-level, class II and class III rapids starting at Barnard River Park. Between rapids enjoy a laid-back vibe with opportunities to stop for a jump off the raft or rocks for a refreshing dip in the river.

What Is Section 9? 

The French Broad river spans 218 miles from Rosman, North Carolina through Asheville, and toward the state of Tennessee. Section 9 of the French Broad river starts approximately 45 minutes away from Asheville near Marshall, North Carolina, and runs through the Pisgah National Forest. The majority of French Broad Section 9 flows through protected lands and is beginner-friendly. Your guide will navigate you through approximately 5 miles of Section 9, where you will raft through class II and class III difficulty levels, and you may briefly encounter class IV drops depending on the time of year, and the amount of rainfall.

Equipment

As a complete white water outfitter, Asheville Adventure Company provides all the equipment you’ll need for your trip through the classic French Broad Section 9. Our equipment is white-water certified, and it includes:

  • Rafts: Rafts seat six passengers, not including your guide
  • Helmet
  • Personal floatation device (PFD) We provide high quality PFDs with a weight range of 50 lbs-275 lbs
  • Paddle

Waivers

Before embarking on the FB9 adventure, all participants must sign a touchless liability waiver. Waivers for participating under the age of 18 must also be signed by a parent or guardian. You’ll receive links to the waiver with your trip confirmation.

Our French Broad Section 9 rafting trip is recommended for adults or children aged 8 and up. Everyone participating must wear PFDs, a helmet, and footwear with a heel strap during the entire outing. Although the rafting trip is relaxed, participants need to be in good health and physically ready to paddle throughout the trip for the experience. Those under the influence will not be allowed to participate.

Transportation

The French Broad River Gorge is located approximately 35-45 minutes from Asheville. Asheville Adventure Company is located in the heart of downtown Asheville and is the only company offering group transportation to and from the Gorge.

Your whitewater rafting adventure will begin in the morning at Asheville Adventure Company Outpost. From there, we’ll head to the rafting location in our shuttle vehicle. After your trip the shuttle vehicle will meet us at the take-out point, we’ll drive you back to our Outpost. You can expect the total trip time to last approximately 4 hours.

Parking

While our headquarters offers parking, it can be rather limited on weekends. Taking an Uber or Lyft to our shop lets you relax to the fullest.

Your Guide

Our rafting tours are led by highly experienced raft guides with years of experience who have undergone Swiftwater Rescue Training. Asheville Adventure Company’s guides are familiar with and have spent extensive time navigating the rivers of North Carolina. Prior to your rafting adventure, your guide will provide an intro lesson to paddling and river navigation while sharing intriguing information about the area.

Group Size 

For the optimum rafting adventure, groups are limited to a maximum of 18 participants age 8 and up. As noted, we provide PFDs that can accommodate between 50 lbs and 275 lbs. Please call us if you have any questions about kids taking the trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

With FB9 as one of our most in-demand guided tours, we get a slew of questions. Here are some of the most common.

What is the cancellation policy?
Refunds can be provided for your FB9 adventure with at least 48 hours of notice, or if the rafting trip is cancelled due to inclement weather. Please contact us as soon as possible if you need to cancel your reservation so we may discuss options.

What if this is my first time on a raft?
The FB9 stretch is well-suited for beginners, featuring a combination of calmer waters and stronger currents. Participants are provided with protective equipment, instruction on paddling and navigation, and an experienced guide at the helm. As long as you hang on, you should be good!

Is the French Broad Section 9 Trip safe?
Safety is our top priority (with fun ranking a close second). The French Broad Section 9 trip is no exception. All participants are provided with safety equipment and given instructions on paddling and river navigation. Our guides are not only extensively experienced with rafting, but they are also trained in swiftwater rescue.

Will there be food?
No food will be provided during the tour. We recommend eating prior to your arrival at our Outpost. Snacks and cold water will be provided when you return to the shuttle vehicle. If you do need to have snacks on hand, our guides can store them for you in their dry bags.

How physically fit do you need to be?
The FB9 guided tour is rather laid-back and relaxed, but we do recommend participants be in good health and physically ready for the adventure. You will need to paddle throughout the trip particularly through the rapids.

Is this a family-friendly adventure?
The French Broad Section 9 rafting adventure is appropriate for most children 8 and up, we provide PFDs that can accommodate anyone between 50-275 lbs. Our tours are family-friendly.

What do I do with my keys, wallet, phone, and camera?
The rule of thumb for rafting adventures is to bring only what you absolutely need. We Recommend leaving personal belongings locked in the car, we are happy to hold your car keys at or check in area. Taking your phone or camera on the river is at your own risk, and we will have souvenir photos of the adventure available.

Will there be opportunities to take a break?
The entire adventure is four hours long, with about two hours of paddling. Your guide will provide ample opportunities to take breaks in ideal stretches of the river for stopping.

What’s the river like?
Section 9 of the French Broad River vacillates between class II and class III rapids, with a couple of class IV drops near the end of the stretch. This gives participants an exciting mix of stronger currents tempered by calmer waters. It’s a good stretch for beginners to get their feet wet (literally) with a rafting adventure.

When’s the best time to take the FB9 rafting adventure?
The scenic beauty surrounding the FB9 stretch is in its greatest glory from May to October. That’s also when the water is warmest. Once autumn hits, the fall colors make for a spectacularly amazing backdrop. Just keep in mind that the water will be cooler if you plan on rafting in October.

What if the weather is bad?
Tours will be canceled if the weather creates unsafe conditions. All decisions to cancel trips are made as close to the tour date and time as possible, which allows participants to plan accordingly.
As a temperate rainforest, Asheville typically experiences a short burst of rain every day in the summer. In these cases, the trip will proceed as planned. If there are any changes in the schedule due to the weather, we will notify you by phone or text.

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