Select Page

The author Vance Parker (blue helmet) with vaccinated whitewater kayaking friends at the Cheoah River, North Carolina May 30, 2021.

The safety-conscious whitewater paddling community has done a great job encouraging each other to get vaccinated for COVID-19.  Being vaccinated both increases our own safety when “shuttling” in vehicles carrying paddlers and gear to river “put in” and “take out” locations, and protects the family businesspeople in the rural and small town communities all over the Southeast, where we visit to paddle.

Tourists of all types enjoy visiting the beautiful far Southwestern Graham County area of North Carolina. My friends and I traveled there this last Sunday, May 30 to whitewater kayak its Class IV-V rated Cheoah whitewater river on one of its “dam release” weekends. The exciting upper Cheoah feels like riding floodwaters through a wooded creek bed … the last two miles open up, which allowed me to get video from shore of friends paddling Class V Bear Creek Falls and other classic Cheoah rapids.  See Vance’s Cheoah River Whitewater Kayaking Video here.

Tourists to this beautiful area can hike in nearby Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest (one of the last uncut stands of timber in the Southeast), paddle themselves on lakes, flatwater, or whitewater rivers, or on guided whitewater trips in the pretty Nantahala or Tuckaseegee rivers close by.  Motorcyclists and sports car drivers (as well as slower driving tourists in automobiles) travel from all over the country to ride the famous scenic twisting Cherohala Skyway or “Tail of the Dragon” routes.  The beautifully restored Tapaco Lodge (built in the 1930s to house the workers who constructed the impressive Cheoah Dam and hydropower facility) looks right over the clear whitewater Cheoah River.  On Cheoah whitewater release weekends, guests can relax and eat lunch while watching whitewater boaters paddle Class IV Topoco Lodge rapid right in front of them.

Tourists make sure to take a “selfie” at Cheoah Dam.  This is where Harrison Ford’s character Dr. Richard Kimble jumped into a raging river far below, as part of an exciting chase scene in the 1993 movie “The Fugitive.”

At my legal practice Vance Parker Law, we lost some friends and clients to COVID-19 in a very difficult pandemic year, like so many others around the world.  As everyone moves forward now, we hope that all of you will take advantage of the effective vaccines widely available in the U.S., and encourage any unvaccinated friends and family members to get vaccinated.  And please celebrate life in your own ways this summer, while supporting all of those small business families who have been bravely holding on out there, just waiting for your visit.

Outdoor diners at the historic Tapoco Lodge watching whitewater boaters paddling the last part of the Cheoah River’s Class IV Topoco Lodge Rapid.

The historic Tapoco Lodge, from its motorcycle parking lot.

Cheoah Dam and hydropower generating station.  Harrison Ford’s character Dr. Richard Kimble jumped off of this dam during an escape scene in the 1993 movie “The Fugitive.”

Vance taking a “selfie” with whitewater paddling friends after paddling whitewater Section 9 of Western North Carolina’s French Broad river, the day before the Cheoah run.  All of these whitewater friends were previously vaccinated for COVID-19 as well.