If you’re looking for a pulse-pounding adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains, white water rafting in Georgia offers a rush of adrenaline and a fun way to immerse yourself in the region’s breathtaking natural beauty.
North Georgia river rafting is especially popular in summer, in part because many of the rivers make for easy day trips from Atlanta. But the mountains also draw visitors from all over the country to Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
The Ocoee, Nantahala, Chattooga, and Chattahoochee Rivers give visitors an array of different opportunities to experience whitewater in Georgia.
With rapids ranging in difficulty from a Class I (small rapids) to a Class V (larger, more extreme rapids), there’s a section of whitewater in GA for every experience level.
The Ocoee River a 93-mile-long section of Georgia’s Toccoa River, is the most popular place for white water rafting near Chattanooga TN.
Best known for its legacy as an Olympic whitewater section, the Ocoee is split into three sections: the Lower, Middle, and Upper portions of the river.
The Nantahala River near Cherokee NC and Bryson City NC is popular with families because it offers calmer stretches, with Class II and III rapids. Experienced rafters can choose to rent their own craft, or go on guided trips.
The Chattooga River is the best place for South Carolina white water rafting. Located on the border between SC and GA, the Chattooga offers 6 to 8 hours of extreme rafting, with a Class V section of rapids that requires previous experience.
The Chattahoochee River– which flows 430 miles from the Helen/Blairsville area to Florida’s Apalachicola River– is the best choice for Atlanta white water rafting. The biggest rapids are near Columbus, where you’ll find Class IV-V rapids.
Read on see our recommendations for the best places to whitewater raft within an hour of North Georgia. Note that each of these Georgia rafting companies has its own age requirements, and each river has different water release schedules.
White Water Rafting in GA Guide
- Carolina Rafting (Nantahala & Ocoee River)
- Nantahala Outdoor Center (Chattooga, Nantahala & Ocoee River)
- Ocoee Adventure Center (Ocoee River)
- Ocoee Rafting (Ocoee River)
- Raft One (Ocoee River)
- Rolling Thunder River Company (Nantahala & Ocoee River)
- Southeastern Expeditions (Chattooga River)
- White Water Express (Chattahoochee, Nantahala & Ocoee River)
- Wildwater Rafting and Canopy Tours (Chattooga, Nantahala & Ocoee River)
1. Carolina Rafting
Carolina Ocoee: 225 Industrial Drive, Ducktown TN • 423-496-5050
Carolina Outfitters (Nantahala): 715 U.S. Highway 19, Topton NC • 828-321-2282
Carolina Rafting has two locations, one in Ducktown TN and the other in Topton NC. The Ducktown TN location, which offers Ocoee River tours, is just 10 minutes from the Georgia state border at McCaysville (near Blue Ridge).
The Ocoee location offers three different GA white water tours: the Middle Ocoee, the Upper Ocoee, and the Middle & Upper Combo.
The Middle Ocoee Rafting trip takes 3.5 hours and starts at $38. The Upper Ocoee Rafting tour runs on Saturdays only, is limited due to the water release schedule, and starts at $45.
Combo tours, which are full-day trips on the Middle & Upper Ocoee River, are $85-$95 and include lunch. Note that Ocoee River tour prices typically rise during peak season (July and August), going as high as $50 for the Middle Ocoee tour.
Full Ocoee River Rafting tours can be as much as $98 during those peak season months, and on holiday weekends.
Carolina Outfitters, their North Carolina branch, offers guided and non-guided Nantahala River rafting trips.
The guided trips are $52.99 on Saturdays, and $48.99 on weekdays. Their non-guided trips range from $18.99-$29.99, depending on the day and the size of your group.
2. Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outpost: 13077 U.S. Highway 19 W, Bryson City NC • 866-336-1037
Ocoee Outpost: 1680 U.S. Highway 64 Suite B, Benton TN
Chattooga Outpost: 851A Chattooga Ridge Rd, Mountain Rest SC
The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers some of the best opportunities for white water rafting in Georgia and South Carolina. With outposts on the Chattooga, French Broad, Nantahala, Ocoee, and Pigeon Rivers, the NOC has a trip for everyone.
Guided tours of the Class II and III rapids on the Nantahala River start at $57 per person. The center is located right on the Appalachian Trail, and it’s not uncommon to share a raft with thru-hikers!
These trips take about 3 hours(including 2 hours of river rafting), with options to add ziplining, mountain biking, or a ropes course to your adventure.
For the Ocoee River, NOC offers trips on the Middle Ocoee and Full River sections. Middle River trips start at $50, or $85 to add swimming and river surfing, while Full River trips start at $110.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center also has an outpost in Mountain Rest SC for rafting the Chattooga River. The 6-hour trip takes you down Section IV, which includes a 1/3-mile section of Class IV and V rapids, for $130.
The NOC also offers guided tours of the Pigeon River in Gatlinburg TN for as low as $39, and the French Broad River near Asheville from $67.
With so many tours in the Blue Ridge Mountains region, the Nantahala Outdoor Center offers myriad ways to experience all the convenient options for river rafting in Georgia.
3. Ocoee Adventure Center
4651 U.S. Highway 64, Copperhill TN • 888-723-8622
One of the most popular sites for rafting in Georgia, the Ocoee Adventure Center is located just across the state line in Copperhill TN.
The Tennessee rafting company offers the most common tours for white water rafting in North Georgia, the Middle Ocoee and Full Ocoee tours. The Middle Ocoee Rafting trip starts at $49, while the Full Ocoee trip starts at $109 per person.
The full river tour takes about 6 hours, with a pre-trip safety briefing, 4.5 hours of actual river time, and lunch. This tour includes the Upper Ocoee section, which was the site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Whitewater Slalom events.
The Middle Ocoee, which is action-packed despite a lower class of rapids, takes about 3 hours, with 2.5 hours of river time. This is one of the most popular white water tours in Georgia because it’s perfect for beginners, but still exciting.
The Ocoee Adventure Center is a great choice for first-time rafters who may feeling nervous about experiencing rapids for the first time. Their website features great info on water safety and the history of the Ocoee River for newcomers.
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4. Ocoee Rafting
1548 U.S. Highway 68, Ducktown TN • 1-800-251-4800
With nearly 45 years of guiding experience, Ocoee Rafting is the oldest company that offers white water rafting in GA. So they’re a great choice for any skill level.
They also offer Middle Ocoee and Full Ocoee rafting tours. Middle Ocoee tours start at $45, offering 5 miles of Class III and IV rapids.
Full Ocoee River tours start at $85, offering Class III to V rapids over the course of 10 miles. Full-day trips typically take about 6 hours, which lunch provided in between the two sections of the river.
Zipline tours cost $59.99 for a 1-hour trip, $89.99 for two hours, and $49.99 for kids ages 6 to 9 years old.
The Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Park– an aerial ropes obstacle course– features 1.5 hours of suspended bridges, climbing walls, ziplines, and more.
Tickets start at $44.99 for kids ages 10 to 14, and all children must be able to reach up to 70″ in order to participate.
5. Raft One
4599 U.S. Highway 64 W, Ducktown TN • 1-888-RAFT-ONE (723-8663)
Located just across the Georgia border in Ducktown, Raft One (or Raft1) is a great option for those looking for white water rafting in Chattanooga.
The whitewater rafting company’s trips include tours of the Upper and Middle Ocoee. Both river trips cost $36, rising to $40 on Saturday and holidays due to increased demand. Combo trips of the Upper and Middle Ocoee start at $80.
Group rates for any of their white water tours include a 10-20% discount, depending on the size of the group.
Raft One also also offers canopy tours over different sections of the Ocoee River, starting at $99 per person. Guided mountain biking trips start at $45 per person, or $35 for non-guided bike rentals.
To mountain bike, groups must have a minimum of 4 people. Guided mountain biking tours generally last 3 hours, and include a helmet and free water bottle.
For the Chattooga River, Raft One’s sister company Southeastern Expeditions offers some of the most extreme whitewater rafting in South Carolina, with Class II-V rapids.
6. Rolling Thunder River Company
Nantahala River Rafting Center: 10160 U.S. Highway 19 W, Bryson City NC • 1-800-408-7238
Ocoee River/Toccoa River Center: 20 Hughes Street, McCaysville GA
They’re one of the most popular Georgia white water rafting companies, offering recreation options on the Ocoee, Toccoa, and Nantahala Rivers.
Rolling Thunder’s Nantahala rafting tours include guided, guide-assisted, and non-guided trips, depending on your skill level. All Nantahala rafters must weigh at least 60 pounds or be over 7 years old, per the U.S. Forest Service.
Guided trips start at $46.99 per person, and guide-assisted trips start at $35.99, depending on the size of your group. Experienced rafters can also rent rafts or mini-rafts for $26.99-$29.99 per person.
Their Middle, Upper, and Double Trouble (full river) tours of the Ocoee start at $47.99, $47.99, and $92.99, respectively.
For children who don’t meet the age requirements for rafting whitewater in Georgia, floating down the Toccoa River in a tube is the next best thing.
The 1-mile river tubing trip offered by Rolling Thunder costs $10 per person, and is available for anyone age 5 and up.
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7. Southeastern Expeditions
7350 U.S. Highway 76 E, Clayton GA • 1-800-868-7238
Their Chattooga River rafting tours include Sections III and IV. Section III, which includes Class II to V rapids, is a 6-hour tour that includes a break for lunch, starting at $99 on weekdays, and $105 on weekends.
Kids must be at least 8 years old to raft Section III, which is one of the lowest age requirements for rapids of that size. But Section IV has an age requirement of 12+, which is a great indicator of the skill level required for that section.
Section IV of the Chattooga is a 7-hour trip through Class III to V rapids, and is best suited to those who have some rafting experience. Tour prices start at $109 on weekdays, and $112 on weekends.
Southeastern Expeditions is the only rafting company in North Georgia to offer an overnight Chattooga River rafting tour. Their 2-day trip include 4 meals, Class II to V rapids, and starts at $425.
The Chattooga River company also offers special trips for Boy Scout and Girl Scout trips, with opportunities to earn outdoor badges. For rafting on the Ocoee River, Southeastern Expeditions partners with its sister company, Raft1.
8. White Water Express
Chattahoochee Outpost: 1000 Bay Avenue, Columbus, GA • 800-678-7238
Ocoee Outpost: 703 Golf Course Road, Copperhill TN
Nantahala Outpost: 19355 U.S. Highway 19, Andrews NC
With an outpost in Columbus GA, they’re also the closest white water rafting in Atlanta.
White Water offers three Chattahoochee River rafting tours– The Class Trip, The Challenge Trip, and The Carnage Trip.
The Class Trip is a 2-hour tour through fairly gentle Class I to III rapids. Tours start at $46.95 per person, and all rafters must either be 60+ pounds or at least 7 years old.
The Challenge Trip ($49.95) and Carnage Trip ($79.95) are for ages 12 and up and go through rapids up to Class V. The only difference is that the Carnage Trip takes you on a “ninja raft,” which is smaller and lower to the water.
Their Ocoee Outpost in Copperhill TN offers two tours, the Middle Ocoee trip and the combined Middle and Upper Ocoee trip. The Middle Ocoee rafting tour starts at $54.95, while the Combo tour starts at $104.99.
Their Nantahala Outpost in Andrews NC offers guided trips, guide-assisted trips, and raft rentals for experience rafters. Guided rafting trips start at $42.95, guide-assisted trips start at $34.95, and rentals start at $26.95.
9. Wildwater Rafting & Canopy Tours
Chattooga Outpost: 1251 Academy Road, Long Creek SC • 1-866-319-8870
Nantahala Outpost: 10345 U.S. Highway 19 S, Bryson City NC
Ocoee Outpost: 4596 U.S. Highway 64 W, Ducktown TN
The Wildwater Rafting company is another great option for rafting tours of multiple rivers, including guided trips on the Chattooga, Ocoee, and Nantahala.
Their Chattooga Outpost offers rafting tours of Section III and Section IV, starting at $89.95 and $149.95 respectively, including a Mini and Overnight trip.
The Mini is a half-day trip on Section III, while the Overnight starts at $378.95 and includes a steak dinner.
Their Ocoee River rafting tours include the river’s Middle and Upper sections, including a full-day Combo trip that takes paddlers through both sections. Middle and Upper trips start at $54.95, while Combo trips start at $99.95.
Their Natantahala white water rafting options include fully guided tours or self-guided raft rentals. Guided tours start at $54.95, and raft rentals start at $29.95.
Wildwater also offers canopy tours at all of their locations, including the Pigeon River and Asheville NC. Most of the canopy tours cost about $89, with a minimum required age of 4 years old. –by Amy Lewis; lead image courtesy of the Nantahala Outdoor Center