Five Southeast Rafting Classics

A week of prime paddling
By Tom Ress
  |  Gorp.com

Let's try a little geographic word association. I'll give you a subject and you tell me the first location that comes to mind. If I say "whitewater rafting," odds are you will think immediately of the Snake, Green, Colorado, or Salmon rivers. Why? Because serious whitewater rafting in this country has become almost synonymous with the famous wild rivers of the West and any conversation about rafting inevitably segues into tales invoking the almost mystical names of a number of famous American rafting rivers, all of which are located well west of America's heartland.

The western states are the Mecca of whitewater rafting in this country, and indeed the level of challenge and danger offered by the many whitewater hot spots out West is hard to match. But for those of us who live east of the Mississippi, there are adrenaline-pumping rivers in the mountains of the Southeast that produce heart-thumping rides cheaper and much closer to home.

While these rivers may lack the continuous Ohmigod-I'm-going-to-die heart stopping excitement of the wilder western rivers, there are some advantages to the whitewater rivers of the Southeast that the western rivers cannot match: there are usually no waiting lists to raft them, they are all within easy driving distance of most of the eastern population centers, and they are much cheaper to run than their western counterparts.

In fact, there are five exciting whitewater rivers in the Southeast that are all closer together than the drive between any three of those western rivers mentioned earlier. It is possible to raft all five of these rivers in one week, taking time off in between to relax and soak up the local scenery. Try that out West. So if you think you have to spend a week of hard earned vacation time and a month's salary to run one western river, quintuple your whitewater exposure with these five southeastern rivers, which you can easily raft in a week, with time left for plenty of R-and-R.

Let's start your week-long marathon in Tennessee.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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