As former designers of water courses at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Whitewater Express opens up the wonders of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina to youth groups, coworkers venturing out on corporate outings, and outdoorsy vacationers with a wealth of activities and exploration opportunities at four different camps. Visitors hike and bike through the fresh, pine-scented air of the Great Smoky Mountains at the Ocoee location, which features 225-plus acres of unspoiled wilderness?or raft past downtown Columbus on a Chattahoochee River trip. Guests can survey the scenery as guides pilot whitewater rafts and kayaks down the scenic Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers; relax in rustic log cabins; or play paintball on a woodsy outdoor course.
At first glance, Purdy's Petting Zoo looks like a traditional barnyard: ducks quack and waddle, lop-eared rabbits silently hop, and pygmy goats nibble stalks of grass. But in addition to these familiar creatures, the zoo is home to exotic animals such as kangaroos, peacocks, zebras, and African tortoises. After feeding and petting the animals, visitors can mine for gems or fish for blue channel catfish in an onsite pond. The zoo also hosts field trips and birthday parties with pony rides.
Jim Quick is an outdoor jack-of-all-trades. The former Marine has not only taught scuba for the past two decades, he is also a wilderness first responder, and holds certifications from an alphabet of organizations including SSI, NAUI, and the YMCA. Take one of his classes with Quick's Diving Services to learn how to snorkel in a shallow reef or dive deep under the waves to uncover oceanic treasures. He and his team of upbeat instructors also train students in scuba rescue and first aid through comprehensive courses that can turn even the newest beginner into a divemaster, given enough time and effort. When they aren't teaching courses, the instructors also run trips to the gulf shores, Philadelphia Quarry, and Morrison Springs.
The exhibits within Museum Center at 5ive Points tell the rich story of the Ocoee Region of Tennessee. The main focal point is The River of Time: a permanent installation that traces the history of Bradley County, incorporating everything from military photographs to Native American artifacts. Five to six other exhibits rotate in and out regularly, while the museum store stands as an attraction in its own right. The shelves brim with various Appalachian arts and crafts, all made within a 150-mile radius of the museum. Self-guided school tours are available daily, making it easy for students to learn about their region's past without having to build a time machine in shop class.
After paddling his way into the U.S. Olympic Team–trial finals twice, Jeff West, founder of Ace Kayaking School, began sharing his love of the sport with readers of popular publications and more than 5,000 eager students. Striving for a maximum 3:1 instructor to student ratio in all of his courses, Jeff and his team teach key skills to beginners and experienced rollers alike while gliding down the Ocoee River's famous Table Saw rapids. In addition to whitewater kayaking, Ace teaches stand-up paddleboarding and the advanced waterfall navigating techniques of creek boating and freefalling in a barrel.
On June 22, hundreds of runners will convene in Benton to tackle towering stacks of hay, muddy trenches draped in barbed wire, and other grimy obstacles along a 5K race known as The Conquest. Heats take off in the morning and continue throughout the day along a course that gets muddier and more challenging with each group of runners. After the final heat, participants can attend an after party to recount the day’s fun amid live tunes from Calling Glory.