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History on the Undiscovered French Broad

A Guided Tour through the Horse Shoe Bend and Henderson County's Past

Lazy Otter Outfitters is proud to offer western North Carolina's only on-the-water guided history tour! Join our guide for a four-mile paddle through the Horse Shoe Bend on the French Broad River while hearing tales of local history, disaster, mystery and fun!  Want to learn more about...

  • The "highest riverboat in America"...

  • The Great Flood of 1916...

  • How construction of the Biltmore Estate almost destroyed Mills River...

  • Whatever happened to the river town of Money?...

  • The haunting of "Haunted Branch"...

  • ...and more!

History on the Water tours are offered daily by reservation for minimum groups of four. It may be possible to combine smaller groups or provide a private tour at additional cost, so feel free to inquire. There's lots to discover on the Undiscovered French Broad!

Price: $70 per person in a Nomad solo kayak, Gemini tandem kayak, or canoe. $75 per person in a Juntos solo kayak or on a paddle board. Upgraded kayak seat pads are $5 each. Minimum group size for a trip is four people. If you have fewer than four people you may contact us by phone or email. We may be able to find other paddlers to join you or arrange a private trip.


Meeting Location: Lazy Otter HQ


History on the Water FAQ:

  • How long will my trip take? Will we be given a deadline? Expect the entire experience to last about 2.5 hours.

  • Who can participate?  The minimum age to pilot a solo kayak is 13. An adult over the age of 18 must accompany any minors. Children ages 6 to 12 may ride as a passenger in a canoe or tandem kayak with an adult, but all children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times, and all participants of any age must be able to swim. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver for anyone under the age of 18 (not just the adult who brings the minor on the trip).

  • What is the cancellation policy?  Trips must be paid for in advance, but cancellations with more than 72 hours (three days) notice will receive a full refund. That will give you a chance to check to make sure you're comfortable with the weather forecast, because trips run rain or shine (unless we cancel a trip for safety or other reasons, in which case you'll also get a refund). We offer Cancellation Protection for an additional fee, which allows you to cancel up to one hour before your trip and receive a refund minus tax, booking fee and the Cancellation Protection fee. If you cancel with less than 72 hours notice and have not purchased Cancellation Protection, we will attempt to reschedule your trip on a space-available basis.

General FAQ:

  • I'm a beginner, or not confident paddling. Will I be able to do it?  We have many novice paddlers who enjoy this section of the river, but keep in mind that there obstacles, primarily downed trees, that you'll need to avoid and that could tip you over. Though this trip is guided it is not meant to be instructional and time may not allow for individual attention. 

  • How often do trips run?  You can see all the available times and make reservations here.

  • Do I need reservations? Yes, to ensure equipment and shuttle availability for everyone and to keep our shuttles on schedule we require reservations. You can make reservations online, through your mobile device, or by calling our office. Please be sure to be 15 minutes early for your trip - if you're late it may be difficult to accommodate you.

  • Is there a group discount? Yes, groups of eight or more people on a single reservation and paying with a single credit card are eligible for a discount of 10 percent off the total cost of their booking. Please reserve by phone (828-756-1386) to make a group reservation.

  • Do I have to wear a life jacket?  Yes. N.C. law requires the use of a PFD by anyone under the age of 13 on the water. While PFDs are legally optional but highly recommended for all other participants, Lazy Otter requires they be worn and they are included with your rental. By law PFDs must be accessible to everyone in a kayak, canoe or SUP (and worn at all times by anyone under 13).

  • What should I wear?  It's your call, but expect to get wet (even if you're going to try not to!). Quick-dry materials are usually preferable to cotton, and you should wear sandals or water shoes to protect your feet (not flip-flops). A change of clothes for afterwards is nice too.

  • Is alcohol allowed? N.C. law allows for alcohol consumption on public waterways, but public intoxication, underage consumption, boating while impaired and littering are all illegal and unacceptable and the use of alcohol can seriously impair a person's judgement and ability to manage risks. Soft-sided coolers are welcome on the river but no glass containers and no styrofoam. Please be sure all your trash makes it off the river (coolers are a good place to store empties!).

  • What is the river like?  It's great for calm-water paddling and tubing. While conditions will vary based on the weather and river level, our section of the river is deep enough that you will rarely have to "scoot" yourself or run aground. There are some obstacles such as downed trees in the water, and low water levels will expose more hazards. Beginners should always paddle with someone experienced, and everyone should be comfortable controlling his or her boat! Always be sure to paddle well clear of any obstructions for safety's sake. Please respect all private property rights. You can view our photo tour of the Horse Shoe Bend section of the river to get an idea, and also get some tips about what kind of trip you might most enjoy.

  • Is the trip dangerous? All water-based recreation should be considered hazardous. However, this stretch of the French Broad is slow-moving and flat, so with safety precautions and awareness of your surroundings you should have a safe and fun time.

  • Are dogs allowed? Sorry, no pets are allowed on our trips. If you arrive with a pet the pet will not be allowed to join you, and you will not be allowed to leave the pet in your car on our property because of the risk of heat exposure.

  • What should I do if I have a problem on the river?  In case of an emergency, alert our guide. If you can't, call for help from 9-1-1 as soon as possible. You can bring your own waterproof case for your phone or buy one from us, but in any case you are always responsible for protecting your personal property. 

  • What should I do if a storm hits?  We cancel or postpone trips during lightning storms or when storms are likely, but mountain weather can be unpredictable. If a storm arises during the paddle follow the instructions of the guide and avoid being near the tallest objects where lightning is most likely to strike, which may mean staying on the water. The NOAA has more information about lightening safety.

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