The Nantahala River through the Nantahala Gorge re-opened Wednesday morning to boating and other recreational uses, more than a week after the U.S. Forest Service closed it following landslides.
Those slides occurred August 25th, with four slides occurring in the gorge following more than three inches of rain which fell in a short period of time. Initially, the slides also closed U.S. Route 19/74 in the gorge, though the road was opened just two days later. The emergency closure of the river lasted much longer according to the Forest Service because not only did all the debris from the slides need to be removed, but water flow in the river needed to be re-estalished. Duke Energy started to release water on August 31st after crews had removed approximately 7,600 tons of soil and rock in just five days.
The emergency closure did extend through the Labor Day weekend, meaning there was no rafting on the river in the gorge, which is one of the most popular spots for the activity in the Southeast U.S. A press release from the Nantahala Outdoor Center called the closure a 'tough week and a half' which caused 'unprecedented' and 'significant interruption' to businesses during a holiday weekend when visitation is typically high. The Forest Service did urge caution for those paddling in the immediate days ahead, saying the slides caused the river to change in some places in the gorge.