Sit tight, pay attention to your guide and prepare to paddle through the wild ride ahead. It’s so much fun that families make the two-to-four-hour drive from Atlanta again and again to spend time on nearby whitewater rivers, including:

Chattooga River

The Chattooga is about two hours from Atlanta with gorgeous scenery, easy to moderate whitewater, numerous swimming holes and the infamous Class IV “Bull Sluice” rapid. When we arrived at NOC, our friendly and engaging guide, Dylan, led us through river and rafting safety guidelines before we geared up and headed to the river.

The trip started with serene and smaller rapids working up to the more challenging ones. The guides have named all sections of the river from start to finish including “George Washington’s Nose” (a rock amidst rapids that is indeed nose-shaped with markings like nostrils). He told my daughters, Georgia Anne, 13, and Sarah, 10, to push it with a paddle and then he said, “Ew, you just picked GW’s nose!”

The highlight of the trip was our plunge down Bull Sluice, a class IV rapid where we got soaked! Our guides let us take turns jumping off rocks into the lower section of the rapid. We stopped for games and swimming and a delicious riverside lunch. It was an amazing spread with sandwich bread, turkey, ham, roast beef, peanut butter and jelly, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, cream cheese, olives, carrots, celery, trail mix, Oreo cookies, lemonade and water.

The rafting trip is one of those family memories we will talk about for years to come.

Know Before You Go: To be more comfortable on this adventure, wear water shoes or outdoor sport-type sandals and a pair of shorts over a bathing suit, and bring a change of dry clothes for afterwards. Be sure to use plenty of sunscreen. Rafters do some light hiking carrying paddles and some smaller gear to get to the river.

– Becky Cooper

The Details 
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Chattooga River Section III Whitewater Rafting Adventure
 Cost: $99.99 per person (must be ages 8 or older). Trip is five to six hours and includes a riverside lunch.

Pigeon River

Rafting on the Pigeon River is done in two sections. The Upper Pigeon is more exciting and the Lower Pigeon is calmer. Located near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Ocoee River

Ocoee River rafting is separated into three sections. The river is dam-controlled and has scheduled water releases all summer. Half-day and full-day trips are available depending on releases. Located in Ocoee, Tenn.

Chattooga River

You can book your adventure to include half-day, full-day or multi-day rafting trips. Located on the Chattooga River in North Georgia.

Nantahala River

At Nantahala you can whitewater raft and experience views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located at the Nantahala River Gorge, N.C.

Rafting Companies:

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Rolling Thunder River Company

Southeastern Expeditions

Smoky Mountain Rafting

Wildwater Rafting

Ocoee Rafting

Ocoee Adventure Center

Whitewater Express

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