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 Gerald Marshall, Bubba Sloan, Denny May, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Adventures as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids while Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead. Meanwhile, High Country Adventures guides lead expeditionary parties 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. They also offer rentals of mountain cabins or campsites at their 30 acre Ocoee Outpost and paddle board and kayak tours on nearby Lake Ocoee. Vacationers can also enjoy rock climbing and caving excursions in the Cherokee National Forest.
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.
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Parking is plentiful, so guests can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 1.5–2.5 hours
Brands Used: Jackson, Liquid Logic, Dagger, and Sit-On-Top White Water Kayaks
Pro Tip: It is a small roller coaster-type experience. Individuals should have an adventurist personality.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: North Georgia mountains.
Recommended Age Group: All ages
Q&A with Woody, Owner
When and how did you first develop a passion for your work?
I have always enjoyed the outdoors and what mother nature has to offer. The enjoyment of watching my kids with smiles on their faces is awesome to watch.
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
This is considered a small roller coaster-type experience with small class II+ rapids. The more adventurist the individual is, the more that helps in creating an enjoyable day.
What is the experience customers can expect, and how do you make it special?
They will be surrounded by North Georgia mountains, the beautiful river, and picnic areas on the river.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
This is not a lazy-river float. The Cartecay River is considered one of the best "natural flow" rivers in North Georgia and maybe North America.
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.
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 Chattooga River—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.