The Chattooga River Map below shows the locations of all of the 25 named rapids on the river with a brief description of each one.
The Chattooga River map was compiled with the help of Ryan Dale, who is beginning his 5th year as a Nantahala Outdoor center Master Guide, and Jonathan McKenzie, the general manager of Southeastern Expeditions who before stepping into the general manager slot, guided trips on the river for six years. Thanks to both of them for sharing their incredibly detailed knowledge of (and love for) the Chattooga River. Information was also provided by Suzanne Welander, the author of Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia published by Menasha Ridge Press.
Features of the Chattooga River Map include
Sections of the River
A separate layer that shows the geographical dividing points for each of the six sections of the river
Information about the Headwaters
This section or river is constrained by canyon walls on both sides. Sometimes the river may be 50 feet wide, although sometimes its much narrower. Canyon walls pinch the water forcing currents to the bottom of the river to re-emerge as “wave trains” or a series of fairly uniform standing waves coming one right after another. The deeper the river the higher the wave trains. Along with Bull Sluice and Five Falls, this is one of the most dynamic sections of the river, meaning that it undergoes dramatic changes in personality based on fairly small changes in water level. Contrast sections of the river like the Narrows with areas like Dicks Creek Rapids and Second Ledge on the Chattooga River map where the river is spread out over a wide area and changes in water level produce less dramatic changes. Experienced boaters say the ideal water level to run the Narrows is 4 feet.
Bull Sluice is the most famous, most photographed rapid on the river. A convenient trail connects the Hwy 76 parking lot with the river. On most summer days spectators sit on the rocks to watch rafters and white water boaters take on Bull Sluice. One experienced white water rafting guide said that it is the rapid that produces the most butterflies for professional guides. A guide can do everything right and still flip. Or do everything wrong and come through smiling. Bull Sluice is one of the most dynamic rapids on the river meaning that it changes character depending on water level. There are three different routes or “lines” through Bull Sluice – Double Drop, The Virginia Slide, and Triple Drop. The professional guides take depends on the water level. The Forest Service requires that all commercial rafting companies scout the rapid with their guests before attempting it.
While Bull Sluice may be the public face of the Chattooga because it’s readily accessible to non-boaters, via a foot trail from the Hwy 76 parking lot. The Narrows, which has no public access, is what boaters themselves remember about the Chattooga. The five rapids on the Chattooga River map are like five Bull Sluices back to back in just a quarter mile of river. The estimated gradient drop is between 70 and 100 feet over that one-fourth mile – very steep. Commercial rafting outfitters cannot attempt Five Falls if the water level is over 2.5 feet because of the potential danger.
And all other named rapids.
Send Your Photos and Videos of the Chattooga River
Some of the raids are illustrated with photos. I’d like for all of them to be. If you have a photograph of you or a friend or family member on the Chattooga in a white water boat or a raft, please send a copy to editor@BrownsGuides.com. If your photo is used on the Chattooga River map you’ll be credited on the map. If you have a video that you think might work on the map, email editor@BrownsGuides.com with your telephone contact information and I will call to discuss.
Send Your Comments and Suggestions
I’d be glad to have you comments and suggestions on how to make this Chattooga River Map and other river maps to come more helpful and informative. Send them to editor@BrownsGuides.com
Read More About the Chattooga and It’s Tributaries
- Is the Free-Flowing Chattooga the Southeast’s Best Whitewater CLICK HERE
- A Guide to Canoeing and Kayaking Section 3 CLICK HERE
- Paddle the West Fork CLICK HERE
- Canoe or Kayak Warwoman Creek CLICK HERE
- Experience Big Rapids on Overflow Creek CLICK HERE
- Explore the Entire Chattooga River Corridor CLICK HERE
Links to Outfitters and Guides who provide white water rafting and other experiences on the Chattooga River
Founded in 1972 by Payson and Aurelia Kennedy and Horace Holden, Sr. and known in its early years primarily for Nantahala rafting and Nantahala kayaking, The Nantahala Outdoor Center has evolved into one of the most respected whitewater rafting outfitters in the country with trips on some of the southeast’s top whitewater rivers including the Chattooga. Located in western North Carolina on the Nantahala River in Nantahala Gorge, the NOC is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest and near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Appalachian Trail passes directly through the NOC crossing the Nantahala Gorge on a bridge next to the outfitter.
Southeastern Expeditions traces its origins as a white water rafting outfitter on the Chattooga River to the 1972 filming of the movie Deliverance. Southeastern co-founders Claude Terry and Doug Woodward were technical advisors and doubles for actors Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ned Beatty in the film. After the completion of filming, Terry and Woodward bought the boating equipment that had been used in the making of the movie from Warner Brothers and went into business as outfitters on the river, making them the oldest outfitter operating on the river. To read Doug Woodward’s fascinating essay on the filming of Deliverance, Click Here.
Wildwater has been guiding white water rafting trips in the southeast since 1971. It guides on four rivers: the Chattooga River in Georgia, the Ocoee River in Tennessee, the Pigeon River in Tennessee, and the Nantahala River in North Carolina.