In 1975, four friends with hearts full of the great outdoors decided they needed a place to get gear indoors. This quest for adventuring equipment lead Bubba Sloan, Gerald Marshall, Denny Mays, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Outfitters as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead, while Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids. The store kits out customers for safe communing with nature with tools and togs from manufacturers including The North Face, Patagonia, and Big Green Egg, whose verdantly painted smoker grill creates hot meals in the midst of a long trip or particularly boring wait in the airport. Meanwhile, guides lead expeditionary parties along on waterborne trips down the Middle and Upper Ocoee’s burbling banks, recapturing the sun-dappled fun that inspired the store's creation in the first place.
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.
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.
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.