Atlanta is surrounded by some of the country’s finest whitewater, and we’ve rounded up the most family-friendly runs around. And while all of the rivers listed below are serviced by river outfitters who can take care of every detail of your trip, it’s always a good idea to review some river safety guidelines before you go. Keep reading for some of the state’s most family-friendly rafting options, below.

Chattahoochee River, Metro

Odds are, your parents had a wild time shooting the ‘Hooch sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, and some of their memories may not have involved an actual boat. And while the Hooch is still the closest, easiest, and coldest water around, the wild weekends of yesteryear have been tamed considerably. It’s good, clean(ish), family fun for rafters ages 5 and older.

Keep in Mind: The Chattahoochee is regulated by the release of water from Buford Dam, and can quickly change from relatively low water levels to fast-flowing rapids. You can call ahead to find out the water release schedule (770-945-1466), and be sure to check out average float times here.

Make It Easy: Let Chattahoochee Outfitters set you up with the appropriate watercraft for your group, drive you to the put-in location, and feed you (nothing beats concession food after a long day on the water) when you float back to the headquarters at Azalea Park in Roswell.

Chattahoochee Outfitters
203 Azalea Dr.
Roswell
770-650-1008
Online: shootthehooch.com

Chattahoochee River, Helen

Alpine Helen is home to some of the coolest and most popular tubing adventures in the state. Surround yourself with refreshing forest scenery on a lively tubing trip down the Chattahoochee River. You'll float right through the middle of Helen and have optional waterslides along the way.

Keep in Mind: Helen is Georgia's weird and wonderful Alpine village, which is quite a destination on the weekends. If you'd rather keep to the privacy of the forest animals, this rafting adventure may not be for you.

Make It Easy: Take a one or two-hour-long trip with Cool River Tubing and also enjoy their aerial park, open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Cool River Tubing
590 Edelweiss Strasse
Helen, GA 30545
800-896-4595
Online: coolrivertubing.com

 

Chestatee River, Dahlonega

If you're looking for a shorter option, check out the Chestatee river trip in beautiful Dahlonega. You can book kayak or tube trips, and while tubing trips only last around 30 minutes, you can walk 10 minutes back to the launch and ride the river as many times as you'd like for only $5.

Keep in Mind: The minimum age of tubers is 4. Keep in mind the tube has to be carried back up the trail.

Make It Easy: Dahlonega outfitters Chestatee River Adventures offers trips from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

Chestatee River Adventures
2718 South Chestatee St.
​Dahlonega, GA 30533
770-540-9950
Online: chestateeriveradventures.com

Toccoa River, McCaysville

Don’t let the fact that the Olympic rafting competition was held just upstream on the Ocoee deter you from getting your feet wet in these hallowed waters. You can elect to mosey down the river on a gentle half-day float on the Toccoa with the littles ages 5 and older.

Keep in Mind: This river runs through Tennessee and Georgia but has two names depending on the state. In Tennessee, the rapids are referred to as the Ocoee, while in Georgia, the name changes into the Toccoa River (and generally has calmer waters).

Make it Easy: Call the Rolling Thunder River Company to take care of all your needs, from selecting the right craft to hiring a guide to steer you through the more daunting waters.

Ocoee River/Toccoa River Centers
20 Hughes Street
McCaysville, GA 30555
706-492-5720
Online: rollingthunderriverco.com

 

The Chattooga River, Mountain Rest

While it's not as dramatic as the depiction in Deliverance, the Chattooga isn’t a lazy river float. In fact, children under 8 aren’t allowed in the boat, and you’ll find that the adventure on the Chattooga is less about dueling banjos and more about keeping yourself in the boat.

Keep in Mind: The Chattooga was federally protected in 1974 so if your goal is to see some breathtakingly undeveloped scenery, this is the river for you. However, undeveloped means undeveloped. Don’t plan on stopping off to grab some ice for your cooler along the way.

Make it Easy: Contact the Nantahala Outdoor Center to set up your guided trip, and ease any lingering post-Deliverance jitters you may have.

NOC Chattooga River
851A Chattooga Ridge Rd.
Mountain Rest, SC
864-647-9014
Online: noc.com

Featured image by Angga Indratama on Unsplash.

—Shelley Massey

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