Parks & Recreation

Whitewater Sports

If you’re looking for a thrilling whitewater experience, you’ll find it on Carter County’s streams and rivers.

 The Watauga, Doe and Elk Rivers and Laurel Fork Creek are all famous with kayakers, with everything from gentle Class I and II floats on the Watauga below Elizabethton to super-challenging Class IV and V+ rapids and falls on the Watauga and Elk in the high mountains bordering North Carolina.  If you have the guts and the skill, we have the white water to satisfy your craving.

Access to the Doe River is now greatly improved with the completion of Green Bridge Landing in Hampton, with a landing, lighted parking, changing booth and picnic area.  You’ll find other access points on the Doe River at Happy Trails Park near Roan Mountain, and Hershel Julian Landing on Bear Cage Road, the put-in for the famous run through Doe River Gorge.

Information on whitewater locations and release schedules.

For a (much) gentler experience, the calm waters of Watauga Lake and Wilbur Lake are great places to unwind.  No motor boats are allowed on little Wilbur Lake, making it particularly good for beginners.  Much of  its shoreline is dramatic rock cliffs, and you’ll likely share the water with hundreds of ducks and geese.  Watauga Lake, surrounded by mountains towering more than 1500 feet above the surface, has dozens of quiet coves to explore and islands for picnics and primitive camping, as well as excellent parks, landings and marinas.

Here are videos of some of the best whitewater you’ll ever see in your life!

The Laurel Fork of the Doe River  (Thanks Jamison Evans)

The Watauga River   (Thanks Andy Woods)

Elk River Twisted Falls Gorge    (This is absolutely incredible!  Thanks Brian Vermillion)

Kayaking the Doe River Gorge   (Thanks Clay Landrum)

Fishermen come from everywhere to fish the famous trophy trout section of the Watauga River – more here.

For more information:

Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts
Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce
Elizabethton/Carter County Tourism Association website
Kayaking the Doe River
Kayaking the Watauga River
Kayaking the Elk River
Kayaking the Laurel Fork

Contact us

Thanks to American Whitewater , Lakeshore Marina , Kirk Eddlemon, Watauga Kayak  and Joshua Dalton for use of photos.