The Outdoor Adventure Center's wildly experienced guides have led groups off the grid for more than a quarter century, pursuing rugged fun in the scenery and fresh air of mountains, rivers, and coastlines. Explorers at heart, the staff boldly launch kayaks into the ocean around the San Juan Islands and conquer the frothy waters of the scenic Skykomish River, known for its beginner-friendly rapids, migrations of spawning merpeople, pool and drop areas, and breathtaking views of 5,000-foot mountain peaks. Horseback and hiking trips delve into the lush woods, and nature photography excursions pause to celebrate the beauty of the wilderness near Index. The core team of 14 guides takes safety seriously, most with certifications from the American Canoe Association, training in wilderness first aid, CPR, and swiftwater rescue, and life vests tattooed over their chests.
Foaming white rapids rush down the Ocoee River as birds chatter from within the leaves of towering trees. For more than two decades, this has been the home of Adventures Unlimited, an environmentally sustainable full-service resort rolling with 30 acres of campgrounds, cabins, and whitewater-rafting facilities. Landscaping and gardens highlight native plants and animals, vehicles run on biodiesel fuel, and any construction efforts use sustainable materials or rocks that everyone was always tripping over anyway. The family-operated adventure company launches groups on whitewater-rafting trips through the tumultuous currents of the local Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers or further afield in Costa Rica. To facilitate dry-land exploration and provide an energy outlet for serial finger painters, they also recently opened an outdoor wooded paintball field supplied by a full rental shop.
Ocoee Zipz lines up seven exciting ziplines over a mile-long course that runs next to the mighty Ocoee River, with each line featuring a Wizard of Oz-themed name and opportunities to observe native fauna, such as raccoons, deer, and tropical penguins. Mount the 30-foot Cowardly Lion and soar on the wings of a zipper to Dorothy, whose cables will usher you onward to several other stations, finally ending with a 65-foot soar across the Wizard. As you whip along at speeds of up to 45 mph, flying monkey guides ensure that the trip progresses smoothly and safely.
Each trip from Big Frog Expeditions lasts approximately three-and-a-half hours, and provides all of the necessary whitewater equipment––Coast Guard–approved personal-flotation devices, paddles, and helmets––to pit you against Mother Nature's flowing water tresses on the Ocoee River. Today's deal includes transportation to the launching site, pre-trip orientation, and a gearing-up session before you hit the aqueous road. Big Frog's professional guides will climb aboard the self-bailing raft and help you steer through the thrilling sights and frothy spumes of continuous class III and IV rapids. With today's Groupon, you can choose between exploring the Upper Ocoee River or the Middle Ocoee River from the available rafting dates on the calendar.
Jim and Jeanette Greiner have been helping people escape the concrete ecosystems of everyday life since 1971. That's the year that they founded Wildwater, and as its name suggests, it started as a rafting outfitter that led groups down the rushing waters of the Chattooga River. Today, Wildwater's trained guides still navigate a number of rivers—the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Pigeon, in addition to the Chattanooga—but they've expanded their reach to the land as well. The company offers canopy tours with a combination of ziplines and elevated bridges, inviting guests to take a thrilling trip through the treetops. If clients prefer to stay within a few feet of the ground, they can opt for jeep tours that explore paths beyond the main roads.
Since Wildwater's team values the beauty of the natural environment, they embrace eco-friendly practices intended to help protect the areas they explore. Each of the company's locations strives to minimize its impact by using solar-powered water heaters for the showers, composting leftover food, and painting all of the outdoor equipment with chlorophyll.
Staff Size: 25?50 people
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Brands Used: NRS
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Middle section of the Ocoee River
Recommended Age Group: Adults
"We offer a window to the outdoors that many could not experience without a guide," says Rob Benson, manager of Big Frog Expeditions. He and his staff give visitors to southeast Tennessee a closer look at the area's beauty during guided whitewater-rafting adventures, kayaking trips, biking outings, and hiking excursions.
The guides?who are CPR- and first-aid-certified when necessary and who participate in swift water rescue classes?take locals and out-of-towners to little known waterfalls and high ground with breathtaking vistas or help groups easily navigate Adventure Class rapids on the Ocoee River. After the outdoor jaunts, guests can unwind at Big Frog's outpost, which feature 27 platform tents, volleyball and basketball courts, and hot showers, which is what every camper desires apart from a hookup for their cotton-candy machine.