7 Outdoor Courses to Know About in Asheville

stoked kayakers just off the river
stoked kayakers just off the river Girls at Play
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School's out for summer, or perhaps you've been done with school for many years, but as any precocious explorer knows, the most exciting and enriching type of education takes place outside the classroom during the adventurous months of summer. Challenge yourself with a new sport like whitewater kayaking or stand up paddleboarding, prepare for a remote emergency by taking a course in wilderness medicine or technical rope rescue, or try out something just for fun, like wild food foraging. In sporty, eclectic Asheville, there's always an opportunity to learn something useful, daring, and above all...adventurous.

1. [Wilderness Survival Training


Bryson City, NC
June 20-21 & August 22-23

Emergency Shelter
Emergency Shelter Melina Coogan

This course will transform you from an outdoor enthusiast to an all-around badass. A team of instructors from the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), ranging from biology teachers, international expedition leaders, and primitive skills instructors will impart on you the basic skills of wilderness survival. Learn how to create shelter, build a fire, forage for food, purify water, navigate off-trail, signal for rescue, and a lot more during this intensive two day course. You can even spend the night in your handmade shelter. The technique and information you learn could one day save your life.

2. [Wild Food Foraging Tours


Asheville, NC
Available daily, year-round

Certainly if you live in Asheville, then you're already familiar with the "farm to table" movement. The Wild Food Foraging Tour takes it one step further with what they've dubbed "Forage to Table Dining". Join a group of naturalists as they unveil the Garden of Eden all around us here in verdant Western North Carolina. You will identify and gather anywhere from twelve to thirty wild foods, including wild greens, mushrooms, and berries. You will also learn about wild crafting, ecology, medicine, and folklore.

At the conclusion of the tour, enjoy an outdoor "pick-nic", cooked up from a sample of your most delectable finds. You're free to bring home the rest of your bounty, or take it to one of Asheville's award-winning restaurants (including Zambra, The Market Place, and Vue 1913) where the chefs will whip it into an incredible dish....for free!

3. [Pisgah Mountain Bike Tutorial


Pisgah National Forest
Individually Scheduled

If you've exhausted the trails at Bent Creek and you're ready to take your riding to a new level, this full day instructional course will have you bombing through Pisgah in no time. This program focus on technical riding instruction, big climbs and aggressive downhills. Because the class size is limited to six, the instruction can be tailored to perfectly suit the experience level and specific desires of the participants.  In addition, you will learn the basics of essential bike maintenance, such as adjusting breaks, changing flat tires and more. This course will help you to become a safe, sufficient mountain biker who can crush the infamous Pisgah gnar with style and confidence. 

4. Beginner Whitewater Kayaking for Women

Asheville, NC
July 11 – 12 & August 15 – 16

If you live in Western Carolina, you live in whitewater heaven. But with all the gear, safety challenges, and unfamiliar terrain, diving into the world of whitewater kayaking can be daunting. A beginning whitewater clinic is the safest, easiest, and most productive way to introduce yourself to this new realm of adventure. There is no better season than a sweltering Appalachian summer to learn this challenging and exhilarating sport.

Girls at Play is the nation's leading institution of whitewater instruction for women. They have a well-earned reputation for creating a patient and supportive environment, while encouraging participants to gain confidence and push their own limits. The two-day beginning clinic takes place on the friendly, class I-II rapids of the French Broad and the Lower Green, and includes two healthy, organic, and locally prepared lunches. You will become familiar with gear, strokes, flat water technique, and basic river running. If you're hooked by the end of the clinic, you're in good company; Girls at Play offers courses and international yoga and paddling trips from beginner all the way up to advanced creeking.

5. [Wilderness First Responder Class


Cullowee, NC & Brevard NC
July 4-12 & August 22-30

Becoming a certified "WFR" is a right of passage for any outdoor athlete. During this nationally recognized, 80 hour program, you will learn the skills to properly respond to emergencies in a remote setting. From preventing blisters to managing acute spinal patients, you will learn technique that could prove useful on each and every future adventure. The course combines classroom style learning with hands-on instruction and scenarios. Besides being fun, fascinating, and a great way to meet like minded friends, becoming a certified WFR will give you a leg up in becoming a guide, camp counselor, life guard, and any profession in the realm of outdoor recreation.

6. [Whitewater Stand Up Paddleboarding


Asheville, NC
Individually Scheduled

You may not even be aware that whitewater stand up paddleboarding (SUP) exists! This fusion of surfing and whitewater kayaking is a true test of balance, strength, and grace. In this four hour workshop on the French Broad River, you will learn how to read water, maneuver in and out of eddies, ferry across the current, and even surf on your SUP board. This could be the most dynamic and invigorating way to impress your friends on the river. (You have to have previously taken one flatwater SUP class in order to register for the rapids.)

7. Swiftwater Rescue Technician

Between SUPing, swimming, kayaking, and tubing to the Bywater, you're going to spend a lot of time in the water this summer. An important part of becoming a confident, trustworthy, and experienced boater is to equip yourself with the technical skills that become necessary during a river emergency. This three-day course will provide the fundamentals of survival and rescue on moving water. Rescue 3 InternationalInstructors will teach participants essential, life-saving skills such as raft guiding and handling, swiftwater swimming, rope rescue, and mechanical advantage systems. Classes are held at the NOC’s Nantahala River campus, one of the best swiftwater rescue training locations on the planet.

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