Week of Rivers (aka WOR)!

Drawing by CCC member Kevin Ray

Week of Rivers is the Carolina Canoe Club’s flagship annual whitewater paddling event. Each year around the 4th of July, much of the CCC’s membership converges on the Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground in Bryson City, NC for 9 days of paddling fun, evening activities, and camping. Bryson City is nestled in the western corner of North Carolina, right in the heart of whitewater heaven, the Nantahala River Gorge. Though not a comprehensive list, nearby rivers include the Nantahala, Tellico, Tuckasegee, and Ocoee. Rivers a longer distance away include the Chattooga and the Little (TN).

Week of Rivers occurs on the week that includes July 4th. When July 4th falls on a Saturday, Week of Rivers will start on the preceding Saturday (June 27th). When July 4th falls on a Sunday, Week of Rivers will start on Saturday, July 3rd.

NOTE: You MUST be a member of the Carolina Canoe Club to participate in WOR. (Join the Carolina Canoe Club!)

The Morning Meeting and the River Board

Daily paddling trips to the regional rivers are organized at the morning meeting, which usually begins at 8:30am at the very conspicuous meeting tent on the campground. Trips are offered for all skill levels: Expert, Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner / Novice. It's not necessary to sign up for the daily paddling trips, just show up! There will be a big board with river levels listed at the meeting:

River Board

River board rivers sorted by difficulty (courtesy of Larry Ausley, please read the fine print in the spreadsheet)

Folks interested in coordinating trips for that day will assess current river levels and will volunteer to coordinate a trip. Signs with the river names / sections will be posted around the perimeter of the meeting tent. These signs will be color-coded by difficulty:

  • Beginner / Novice = Green
  • Intermediate = Yellow
  • Advanced / Expert = Red

When a trip that interests you is announced, just congregate around the colored river sign corresponding to that trip. Trip coordinators will restate the skill level for the trip and will ask you your skill level. To ensure you have a fun and safe day, assess your own abilities honestly and objectively and provide the trip coordinator with the following information:

  1. Your skill level
  2. The rivers you've paddled comfortably
  3. Your pool roll stats (i.e., I successfully roll up in the pool x out of y times)
  4. Indicate whether you do or do not have a combat roll (“having a combat roll” means you can reliably roll up when flipped unexpectedly)
  5. Advise of any health conditions you may have that could be of significance on the river and impact how the group could assist in an emergency (e.g. diabetes, allergies).


More info for 2017 clinics is at https://www.carolinacanoeclub.org/content/wor-clinics-and-events

Beginner Mentors

Beginner mentors are designated each day of WOR though most CCC members will bend over backwards to help fellow members, whether they are designated the beginner mentor for that day or not.  There are also clinics and workshops offered during the week, some of which require pre-registration. (Clinics will be posted here mid-June).  If you are an experienced paddler, raise your hand to coordinate a river trip and your name will be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes donated by WOR supporters.  Sometimes trips depart before the morning meeting.  If you are interested in coordinating or participating in an Early Departure trip, check out the ED Board every day.  

Activities for non-paddlers

Perhaps you are tired and need a paddling break, you can join a group for a hike or other non-paddling activities.  The Fourth of July brings its own fun too!  Optional evening activities (i.e., live music, conservation speakers, paddling movies, slide shows) are scheduled for a few of the evenings or you can just hang out around the campfire and enjoy the company of your fellow paddlers.

If you are looking to buy or sell used boating or camping gear, you may participate in the Used Gear Swap and Sale at WOR

Planning for WOR

It’s not necessary to come for the whole 9 days. You need only secure a campsite at Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground in Bryson City for the days you'll attend.  The campsites open the previous summer and prime spots (defined as those spots not in the "big field" with no shade) are snatched up quickly. Field sites are plentiful and don't require a reservation (just bring your own source of shade).

Not staying at Smoky Mountain Meadows?

Though logistically easier, it isn’t required for you to stay at Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground to participate in WOR activities. You can camp or lodge elsewhere and still come to Smoky Mountain Meadows for WOR activities each day.   Be advised, however, that SMM requires non-registered guests to obtain a SMM parking sticker for their vehicle to be brought onto the premises.  For the cost of $2 per day or $10 for the entire WOR event, CCC members can park their car onsite while they partcipate in Week of Rivers events.  This is a small cost considering the services SMM is providing everyone --campers and non-campers alike!   If you would like to check out other local campground alternatives, go to the Travel Guide Page.

Other useful WOR info

Be sure to check out the WOR Tips and River Lunches while you’re here for some very helpful information!.

Doggie daycare and kennel services are available in the area.

NOTE: You MUST be a member of the Carolina Canoe Club to participate in WOR. (Join the Carolina Canoe Club!)

Determining your Target Rivers for WOR (and beyond)

Getting to know the River Board rivers and their corresponding skill levels (River Board Rivers sorted by difficulty) in advance of WOR and reading up on each river’s characteristics at American Whitewater’s website (NC Rivers with flows above minimum, courtesy of American Whitewater) will help paddlers set 'target' rivers that are within their ability. Note that most rivers on the river board are natural-flow dependent and thus may or may not be at levels that are suitable for paddling. It tends to be feast or famine so one should be familiar with the dam-release schedules as a backup plan (Ocoee, Nantahala, Hiwassee, Tuckaseegee, and Green). Watching gauges (Gauge Page, courtesy of Chris Grindstaff) and weather forecasts a few days in advance of WOR can help place context on what the week may be like.

Additional tips for beginners:

  1. Sign up for the Beginner clinic, usually held on a weekend in early June at Turkey Creek Campground in Almond, NC, Almond is near Bryson City, where WOR is held). This will give you an opportunity to get a taste of the Bryson City area rivers before WOR and you'll meet many others at your skill level. These folks will then be familiar faces at WOR.
  2. Attend as many pool sessions as you can between now and then (CCC website >> Current Calendar link >> Roll Sessions). There are usually experienced boaters there who will often help you with strokes and roll techniques. In the summer time, folks also meet at Jordan Lake on Wednesday evenings.
  3. The Swiftwater Rescue Clinic offered by the CCC is highly recommended (see the CCC Online Trip list for details). You will learn what to do and what NOT to do if and when you come out of your boat. You don't need a roll for this class.

For more information, contact the CCC Cruise Chair at cruise.chair@carolinacanoeclub.org

See you on the river!!