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.
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.
Skiing. Snowboarding. Canoeing. Rock climbing. Horseback riding. To someone with a physical disability, activities like these might seem impossible. Yet Eric Gray, founder of Catalyst Sports, has taught disabled individuals how to perform each one?plus a few others. At Catalyst, Eric and his team empower people to not only overcome physical disabilities, but also to thrive with them.
The organization provides unique recreational opportunities to individuals of all ages and ability levels, including adaptive rock climbing programs. In fact, Catalyst has grown into the largest such adaptive climbing program in the country. It has done so, in large part, by hosting frequent events and fundraisers, which are far better ways to raise money than playing the same Roman numerals in the lottery every week.
The current of the Chattahoochee River becomes a natural playground with the help of Paddle Pusher, which rents out vessels for aquatic exploration. The company’s fleet of kayaks includes standard and inflatable single-person kayaks for those looking to traverse the river, as well as tandem kayaks ideal for couples trying to tame the rugged outdoors or sasquatch owners trying to reintroduce their pet into the wild. All kayak rentals include paddles, and for an additional $5, Paddle Pusher also rents out helmets, life vests, and waterproof bags for valuables.
White Water Learning Center of Georgia plunges people into raging rapids with its kayak, canoe, and paddle board classes and tours. Lessons teach paddlers how to navigate all classes of rapids in rivers and in the ocean. After learning how to explore local waterways, students can sign up for one of the learning center's excursions, or rent a canoe or kayak to take on a solo journey to the location where Atlantis' food court once stood.
Iran-born Dante found his home in the American wilderness, exploring landscapes from the Hawaiian tropics to the Carolina mountains. He shares his love of the outdoors through Georgia Wine Kayaking, leading guests on seasonal tours of Georgia's rivers, including ones that take place during full moons, sunrises, and the winter solstice. In addition to immersing guests in the state's natural surroundings, Dante extols the physical benefits of kayaking and canoeing, such as toning muscle and relieving stress.