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Asheville Adventure Company

French Broad Gorge Whitewater Rafting Trip

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Activity Level: ModerateActivity Level: Moderate

$69 | 4 hours

Tour 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

Free cold craft beer (or soda!) after the adventure

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What to Expect on Your French Broad Section 9 Rafting Adventure

Itinerary

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 where the water enters Pisgah National Forest. Enjoy a laid back vibe with opportunities to stop for a jump off the raft or rocks for a refreshing dip in the river. The meetup time is 9 a.m. at Asheville Adventure Company’s HQ. 

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)
  • Paddle

You may bring your own equipment for the trip, but it must be rated for white water use. This is especially important for your PFD. Our PFDs require a base minimum weight of 50 pounds. If any members of your group weigh less than 50 pounds, they must bring their own certified PFDs.

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 10 and up. Everyone participating must wear PFDs 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 for the experience. Those under the influence will not be allowed to participate.

Transportation

The French Broad River Gorge is located approximately 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 at 9am at Asheville Adventure Company headquarters. From there, we’ll then head to the rafting location in our passenger van. At the take-out point, we’ll drive you back to headquarters, where you can join us for a celebratory local craft beer or soda – on us! You can expect the total trip time to last approximately 5 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 (while enjoying a beer or two at the end of the adventure.

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 10 and up. As noted, there is a 50-lb. minimum weight for our PFDs. Please call us if you have any questions about kids taking the trip.

Rafting Trip FAQs

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 instruction on paddling and river navigation. Our guides are not only extensively experienced with rafting, but they are also trained in swiftwater rescue.

Are drinks part of this tour?

You’re welcome to join us for local beers or organic sodas at the shop following the tour.

Is there a drink limit?

Most participants enjoy a single beer or soda after the adventure, although a few have been known to have two.

Will there be food?

No food will be provided during the tour. We recommend eating breakfast prior to your 9 a.m. arrival at our headquarters.

Are water and snacks provided?

No water or snacks are provided during the tour. If you do need to have snacks on hand, our guides are happy to 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.

Is this a family-friendly adventure?

The French Broad Section 9 rafting adventure is appropriate for most children 10 and up, weighing a minimum of 50 pounds. Our tours are family friendly – if your child is younger than 10, but you feel confident in their ability to participate, please call us to discuss. 

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. Our headquarters have changing rooms where you can leave your belongings, or you can leave them in your car.

If you must bring a phone, guides do have dry bags that may accommodate smaller items. Or you can purchase and bring your own dry bag on the trip. 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 five hours long, with about two to three 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 cold 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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