Dusk has settled its gold and purple cloak upon the Flint River, gilding the tranquil waters in a fiery blaze of colors. The sounds of laughter breaks through the still evening as one of North Alabama Canoe and Kayak signature Twilight Tours makes its way leisurely down the fluvial highway under the steadfast helm of a seasoned guide. Founded with the intent of granting guests the chance to experience memorable moments such as this, North Alabama Canoe and Kayak equips explorers with their fleet of canoes and kayaks for relaxing sojourns along the Flint River. Nature enthusiasts can also opt to paddle themselves around during 1.5- to 4.5-hour unguided day trips, charting their own aquatic path past scenic sites that include wooded flat lands, high bluffs, and remote pasturelands populated by cows that have never seen a television or been to the big city.
A captain licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Jim Steele’s more than 25 years of boating⎯including time spent at the helm of Opryland’s water taxis⎯comes in handy as he coaxes The Blue Heron, a specially built 40-foot pontoon, about the Cheatham Wildlife Management Area on daily tours. Out on the water amid soothing birdsongs and the burbles of river critters, Captain Jim can be found behind the wheel of the craft, exercising his chops as an entertainer as he regales his passengers with chuckle-inducing anecdotes and factoids about local flora and fauna. With the comfort and safety of his guests always in mind, Captain Jim equipped the Heron with a restroom and keeps the vessel stocked with a comprehensive library of life jackets to fit adults, children, and pet iguanas of all ages and sizes. Hitting an average cruising speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour, the Heron affords its passengers leisurely looks at area wildlife as it embarks upon all manner of tours, from gold-tinged sunset cruises to kids' adventures punctuated by the gleeful laughter of curious youngsters.
Music City Water Sports’ fleet comprises a wide range of exhilarating water-based rides. Adventurers can opt for self-powered transport, such as a canoe or a kayak, or let an engine kick up the waves atop a Honda AquaTrax or Yamaha VX Cruiser jet ski. Each jet ski seats up to three people, which creates a great opportunity for a high-speed massage chain. The company's rental home base is on the waterfront of 14,000-acre Percy Priest Lake inside Nashville Shores Waterpark. Boasting abundant greenery and majestic rock cliffs, the lake is a destination for pleasure boaters and thrill-seekers alike. Music City Water Sports also makes equipment available to customers spending the day on other area lakes and rivers, sticking to its goal of helping people to take advantage of local waterways.
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.
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.