The Chattooga River is considered the Southeast’s premier whitewater rafting adventure!
According to Southern Living, Take the Plunge is Listed #2 in the article 40 Things Every Southerner Ought To Do.
We totally agree! It’s hard to top a day spent with a rafts-eye view from the river gorge.
It’s the only Wild & Scenic River in the Southeast!
People are drawn to the Chattooga for the peaceful scenery and the unspoiled wilderness found within the river corridor. The main reason the Chattooga River is considered such as special place, is because it was federally designated a Wild & Scenic River. This designation occurred in 1974 and required an act of congress. The designation comes with protected status and regulations that prevent development within a 1/4 mile of the river.
Chattooga River Whitewater Rafting
To really experience the river, you need to be on it! Floating along, you pass huge boulders, riffles and rapids depending on where you are. There are calm stretches and cool places to get out and swim along the way; talking and visiting with raft mates…it’s a full day of fun!
If you want to raft the Chattooga, you can either go with a commercial outfitter or plan your own private raft trip.
The U.S. Forest Service regulates and oversees the operation of commercial outfitters on the Chattooga River. Only three companies have a license and are permitted to operate on the river: Nantahala Outdoor Center, Southeastern Expeditions and Wildwater Ltd.
When you go with a commercial outfitter, you’ll get experienced professionals who know how to “read” the water and can maneuver the rafts in various levels. Raft guides go through extensive training and are certified to administer first aid in case of emergencies.
At the end of the day, we hope you’ll consider tipping your raft guide. They might make it look easy, but being a river guide is hard strenuous work!
No matter which outfitter you choose, they’ll provide everything needed for an exciting and memorable day:
- Professional raft guide
- PFD (personal flotation device/life jacket)
- Weather-appropriate attire
- Lunch on the river
- Shuttle to the river put-in and back to the outpost from the river take-out
Overnight Raft Trips
Wildwater and Southeastern Expeditions both offer overnight camping/rafting options on the Chattooga River.
An overnighter is a two-day rafting excursion. You’ll do Section III the first day, raft to a designated campsite, sleep by the river, and set out for Section IV the second day.
Tents will be set up when you arrive and dinner will be prepared for you. The outfitter does the work so guests can sit back, visit, and enjoy themselves in the wilderness overlooking the river.
Chattooga River Commercial Outfitters
Wildwater operates 5 adventure centers in 4 states. Their headquarters is in Long Creek near the Chattooga River.
Wildwater actively partners with Visit Oconee SC. They are the only outfitter offering a half-day Mini Trip on Section III.
They have a climbing wall and offer zip line canopy tours at their Chattooga Adventure Center. Optional “Stay and Play” packages where guests can book onsite lodging at the Chattooga outpost.
Wildwater’s Chattooga outpost is located in Oconee County, on the South Carolina side of the river.
N.O.C. has been leading trips on the Chattooga River since their company’s inception in 1972. In fact, company founder, Payson Kennedy, was a stunt double in the move Deliverance.
N.O.C.’s Chattooga guides are amount the nation’s most elite whitewater guides.
NOC’s Chattooga outpost is located in Oconee County on the South Carolina side of the river.
Southeastern Expeditions operates on 2 rivers. They are based out of Tennessee near the Ocoee River.
S.E.E.’s Chattooga outpost is located in Rabun County on the Georgia side of the river.