Mastery Tips

Chattooga River: Wild and Scenic Rafting River Splendor


“The Chattooga River in Georgia is a wild and scenic river classified by the government. This river is very beautiful with the surrounding mountains around it, and it’s one of the best white water rafting trips in the southeast…”
White water rafting is an incredibly fun activity for anyone, and if you haven’t yet been able to try it out, I urge you to give it a try… There many great rivers in the southeast United States and many of them are good for beginners or first timers such as the Nantahala or Pigeon Rivers. Then there are other rivers with a bit more kick to them, such as the New River and Gauley River in West Virginia, and you may want a bit of experience first before tackling them. Other rivers may suit you just right, and the Chattooga River of Georgia is a fantastic trip for all…

The Chattooga River is classified as a wild and scenic river by the government, and it’s pretty remote with some very high mountains around it. You will be carrying your raft at least a quarter of a mile in order to get to the river where you will put in, and then be in a very rugged environment for most of the day, so self-sufficiency is the key here. The guide company that you choose will prepare for most needs that may arise, but possibly not all. You will usually stop by the side of the river at some point during your trip and have a picnic lunch, which is actually very nice. It’s a great break from the rapids of the river.

This is not a dam controlled river like the Ocoee River of Tennessee is, so that means the water level is dependent on rainfall in the last few days. Usually in the summertime, the levels are fairly low, and the depth in many places is not more than a few feet. However, due to the very fast moving water it is still pretty dangerous, and you do not want to stand up in any white water river with rapids because you may get your feet tangled under a rock and then the current will try and move you downstream and keeping you pinned. There is no “turning off the water” to save you in this spot, so you have to take precautions.

That being said, you will rarely find such a beautiful and scenic location, and one of the best parts of the trip is in between rapids just looking up at the surrounding mountainscape above you and soaking it all in… If anybody remembers, they did make a movie about this area on a rafting trip back in the 1960’s or ‘70’s called “Deliverance”? Well not to worry, pigs are little hard to find in those parts now I hear tell… The area is still very remote and “hillbillyish”, but you should make it through to the end of the river, but then again if you hear banjo music keep a sharp lookout!

There are many fantastic rapids in this river, but most of them on Section III are level 3’s and 4’s. There is one rapid that is classed a level V at the very end of Section III, called Bull Sluice and it can be a doozy! The last trip I was on there we got stuck on a rock just at the top of a big drop-off, and the guy next to me fell out headfirst into the water below, and then our raft shook loose and fell on top of him! Talk about having a bad day! But then again, that same guy fell out 3 times that whole trip, so maybe he was just looking for a little adventure in his life!


Section III is not that bad, but Section IV can be much rougher! Don’t do this trip first, try and get some experience beforehand… There are many big boulders on this section, and that makes it much more dangerous if you collide with one or get sucked under. Remember, the current is relentless, and won’t stop for a rafter that fell out of the boat. Rescues are much harder here, but it is still an incredible trip for the daring!

The Southeast is full of great white water rafting rivers, from the Ocoee River in Tennessee to the Gauley River of West Virginia, to the Chattooga River of Georgia! Try them all if you like, but definitely bring a camera along for the Chattooga trip, but make sure it’s waterproof! And another thing, try to have some fun!

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