One of Visit Oconee SC’s most popular Google search phrase is “Chattooga River Rafting.”
Obviously people want to find out about this destination we are blessed to have for the public to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a way to be outdoors and stay cool, we highly recommend floating down the Chattooga River. No matter how hot and hectic it might be everywhere else, once you hop in a raft and head downriver, your worries melt away.
There are two options when it comes to rafting:
Chattooga River FYI
- The Chattooga River is a boundary between South Carolina and Georgia.
- The river originates near Cashiers, North Carolina, and flows southwestward for 57 miles between northwestern Oconee County, South Carolina, and eastern Rabun County, Georgia.
- The federally designated “Wild & Scenic” Chattooga River is regulated and managed by the National Forest Service.
- The Chattooga River is a beautiful natural setting that has no development along the river banks.
- The Sumter National Forest surrounds the river on the South Carolina side; the Chattahoochee National Forest surrounds the river on the Georgia side.
- Due to its Wild and Scenic River status, there are few public access points, which limits the amount of traffic that the river sees.
- The whitewater rafting season runs from March-October.
- The most popular stretches of the river are Section III and Section IV. These are where commercial outfitters operate rafting trips.
- Section III is great for families or groups wanting scenery and laid back adventure. No experience necessary. The minimum age for a commercial trip is 8 years old. It takes 4-6 hours to raft this section, and you’ll go down river 13 miles floating through Class I, II, and III rapids.
- Section IV is an intense stretch where previous experience is recommended. The minimum age for a commercial trip is 12 years old. It takes 5-7 hours to raft this section. You go down river 8 miles through Class II, III, IV, V, and VI rapids.
- If you go rafting, you need to be in good health, able to walk 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the put-in and take-out spots and be willing to actively paddle throughout the trip.
- The Chattooga is a free-flowing river (not dam controlled) which means the water level depends on the amount of rainfall the area receives.
- The water level affects the logistics of the rafting trip. Where to put-in and take-out, and the amount of time it takes to float a section of the river is dependent on the water level on that particular day.
- Every trip down the Chattooga River is a unique experience. High water can lead to big holes and raging rapids, low water can expose neat cave swims and steeper drops.
- Usually, by July and August, the water level is quite low, and rocks are more exposed. It gets tricky to navigate rafts downstream.
- Experienced raft guides are trained to “read the water” and can steer the raft where it needs to go in order to avoid exposed rocks.
- When bringing a phone for rafting, keep in mind, there is no cell service within the river corridor. This means driving to and from the river, in the parking lots, and on the river, you will not get a phone signal.