Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Southeast



Long before the web of highways and interstates had ensnared our country’s map like a giant net, rivers were the only lines dissecting its wild expanses. They run like a set of meandering veins from highland to sea level, carting rainfall and snowmelt off to the boundless reservoir of the ocean.


Rivers have served humans for as long as we’ve been around to see them. They have inspired millennia of poets and artists with their elegance and ceaseless motion. Civilizations have lived and died on their bounties, relying on them for water, irrigation, and fish. They are frequently used to delineate borders between states and nations.


Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Southeast


Everyone from natives to colonizers used them as a reliable passageway into the rugged interior of our continent — when open, they provided a route for ships and boats, and when frozen, created a sort of hard-packed superhighway.


And while the noisiness and sprawl of civilization may suggest that nature is an ever-receding entity, one need only visit one of America’s Wild and Scenic Rivers to be reminded of the timelessness of their existence. In this article we will look at some of the southeast’s Wild and Scenic Rivers, the conservation efforts working to keep them alive, and the recreation they offer those who visit them.


The Southeast’s Wild and Scenic Rivers



Congress passed the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968 to preserve and protect some of the nation’s most treasured, free-flowing waterways. The southeastern United States is home to several of these rivers, and they are on par with any in the world in terms of beauty, natural setting, and recreation. Let’s take a look at a few, from the Carolinas to Florida and on to Alabama.



The Mighty Chattooga River


Picture yourself rafting down a river whose water is as clear as glass, where rocks shimmer beneath the surface and waterfalls tumble toward you on the left and right. The forest on one side is that of South Carolina, while on the other rests in the great state of Georgia.


The Mighty Chattooga River, a Wild and Scenic River that is one of the nation's most spectacular waterways



Pine trees, mountain laurel, and hardwoods tower above you, and up ahead, there is a dull roar as water froths at the mouth of a rapid. Bright green moss coats boulders like fluorescent shag carpeting, and vines and jagged cliffs line the banks. A fallen tree straddles it, suspended between its rocky walls thirty feet overhead.


This is the mighty Chattooga, a Wild and Scenic River that is one of the nation’s most spectacular waterways. The river was awarded federal protection under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1974, just six years after the passage of the act, and sports an impressive fifty-eight miles of designated river.


This river is the center of Southeastern Expeditions’ rafting adventures. It is known as the “crown jewel” of the southeast, and in 1972 made its Hollywood debut as the setting for the riveting, disturbing drama Deliverance. Despite the movie’s skillfully-executed suspense, the Chattooga shines through the plotline as one of the most gorgeous natural settings in American cinematic history.


There is nothing quite like riding down natural rapids in the forests of northern Georgia. The Chattooga offers every type of challenge, from Class I to Class V, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful river to carry you through nature.




The New River (South Fork)


One of the most famous rivers in the world for its isolation, dramatic gorges, and world-class whitewater rafting, the New River has carved a remarkably deep gorge through much of the southeastern Appalachian Mountains. It also sports a fairly serious misnomer — despite being called the New River, it is actually one of the oldest rivers on earth.


The south fork of this river was named a Wild and Scenic River on April 13, 1976. This particular stretch winds lazily through northwestern North Carolina’s farmland, bucolic villages, and forest. But farther upstream, it offers some of the most intense whitewater rafting this side of the Mississippi — literally. The New River originated in West Virginia, where it flows southward through Virginia before ending up in North Carolina.


 Despite being called the New River,, it is actualy one of the oldest rivers on earth


The New River is rich in fish and plant life, and is a corridor for such life to travel through the otherwise rugged Appalachian Mountains. Unfortunately, it has also been the victim of much of Virginia’s toxic waste dumping, with several millions pounds of toxic waste dumped into it each year. Conservation groups have actively fought to keep it clean and to ensure its wildlife continues to thrive.




Loxahatchee River


Southeastern Florida’s Loxahatchee River takes a prize for a great name, but its true splendors are to be found while exploring it. The Seminole name means “river of turtles,” and when you float through its lively waters and tall cypress trees, you’ll see why. Turtles love to sunbathe on its many logs, as do alligators and other reptilian residents.


The Loxahatchee River received Florida’s first-ever Wild and Scenic River designation in 1985, and since then, locals have worked hard to protect its special breed of old-growth floodplains. This river is important not only as a water source for the area, but also in its ability to absorb high tides and to protect local land from flooding.


 Turtles love to sunbathe on the many logs of the locahatchee river, as do alligators and other reptilian residents



Kayaking and canoeing are favorite activities on the Loxahatchee, as its placid waters lend themselves to observation of the lively activity and towering canopy all around.




West Fork River (Sipsey Fork)


Though this river has over sixty miles designated as Wild and Scenic, it is worth mentioning that this is less than 0.1% of all of Alabama’s waterways — it is a state with quite a bit of moving water. Sipsey Fork flows through the surrounding Sipsey Wilderness, a large swath of waterfalls, new- and old-growth forest, and spectacular vistas over the hilly countryside.


This river achieved Wild and Scenic status in October of 1988, as its steep canyons and pristine natural settings fit the description of such a place. The rivers tend to exhibit a broad range of flow strength, as seasonal changes in rainfall create wildly differing conditions in the valleys.


The Sipsey Wilderness is a wonderful story of conservation in the eastern United States, which has been settled far longer than the west and hence has struggled more with environmental protections. It was the first wilderness area to be designated as such anywhere east of the Mississippi, with federal funding beginning in 1975, and it doubtlessly served as an example to other states who wished to designate protected wilderness areas of their own.


Many different conservation groups protect the Sipsey Fork and its surrounding ecosystem. The Sipsey River Swamp is one of the state’s most important wetlands, as it is home to numerous types of ducks, fish, mollusks, and plant life.




Conservation of Wild and Scenic Rivers


Since the dawn of civilization, we have struggled with how to properly deal with our waste. The industrial revolution and the advent of chemical manufacturing has complicated the ordeal immensely, as have growing population, the spread of farming and large-scale agriculture, and extensive development in sensitive areas.


Rivers have often borne the brunt of our environmental foibles. It is not hard to see why. Imagine having a growing pile of waste to somehow contend with, only to find that a river hauled it away for free like some sort of magical conveyor belt — it is a temptation that man has given into far too many times throughout history, resulting in the discharge of raw sewage, garbage, farm and road runoff, petrochemical waste, hazardous materials, and spills of all kinds into our rivers.


Conversation groups have had surprising success in cleaning some of our country’s rivers. Because rivers provide economic, infrastructural, and environmental value to every citizen of the United States, it has been a priority to rid many of them of pollution. It stands that less than 0.25% of rivers in our country fall under protection of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act — in other words, only 12,709 miles are protected out of 2.9 million miles of rivers in total. That means that the bulk of conservation responsibility falls on us, the citizens, to uphold.


Conservation for recreation on wild and scenic rivers



One effective method of conservation has come through collaborative cleanup days, in which communities gather to remove debris, pollutants, and trash from rivers by hand. There is even a database of national river cleanups, in which you can find a river cleanup near you to participate in. Doing so will pay you back by helping not only the environment and its wildlife, but also every single person who drinks water — which, of course, is every single person.


Dams are another source of harm to free-flowing rivers. A dam is any large structure built across a waterway to regulate its flow, and more often than not, they are used to produce electricity by having the current turn turbines in the dam. A dam can be incredibly destructive by flooding the upstream portion of the river, diminishing the downstream portion, and obstructing the passage of aquatic life that typically swims up the stream unimpeded. Many conservation efforts focus around preventing the construction of dams, as well as advocating to remove them.


Similarly, the presence of industry and large developments can have catastrophic effects on a river’s health. Restrictive zoning, or the ability of a municipality to control what activities different pieces of its land are used for, also plays a large role in conservation. Citizens can lobby for land surrounding waterways to be free of certain types of manufacturing, development, and agricultural uses, which in turn can lead to that waterway escaping many sources of damage that have befallen others.


Reclamation is another technique for restoring rivers. Through it, conservation groups will actively alter the course, surroundings, structures, flow, and other qualities of rivers in order to help them regain their original environmental health. Often, a rerouting will help prevent advanced degeneration of a section of river, as will creating barriers to manage its flow. These processes, while man-made, are demonstrated to improve the river’s health over time, often by emulating natural processes — laying logs across a stream to emulate a beaver dam, for instance.




Recreation on Wild and Scenic Rivers


A discussion of rivers would not be complete without discussing their recreational value. They provide an avenue for activities ranging from meditative to adrenaline-pumping, and without them, many sports simply would not exist.


First of all, there is their ability to calm us. Something about their wordless persistence inspires us — they churn their way through solid bedrock without complaint or hesitation, and though we may see only small sections of their length, we know that they continue well beyond us in either direction. We camp along their banks, jump off their rocks, explore their tributaries, and swim in their cool waters.


Fishermen similarly depend on rivers for sport and sustenance. From the first light of dawn until the sun has set, they cast their lines into rivers to catch salmon, trout, and other fish who spawn and thrive in our inland waters. When pollution affects the sport of fishing, everyone from fishermen to restaurants to grocery stores can feel the impact.


 White water rafting and kayaking, canoeing, swimming and fishing require that rivers be clean and unpolluted



Kayaks and canoes provide an excellent means of exploring rivers. Armed only with the power of muscle, one can journey in silence and harmony with the natural surroundings. Kayaks and canoes were used by Native Americans to navigate North American waterways for thousands of years, and even today, their utility has not diminished.


Then there is the sport of whitewater rafting. The southeast is uniquely suited to this sport, with plentiful gorges, rapids, and cascades to drop into and navigate. The Chattooga River, a Wild and Scenic River that forms the border between northern Georgia and South Carolina, is a particularly popular destination for whitewater activities.


The value of river recreation goes beyond its fun, though. It is directly linked with conservation. To draw a parallel, consider how indigenous tribes living in the jungle are actually the best protection for Amazonian Rainforest — by living among it and having a vested interest in its well-being, they create a sort of protective shield for its conservation. Similarly, riversport enthusiasts protect rivers by the sheer fact that they need them to thrive in order to protect their passions and their source of income.


Whitewater rafting and kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing require that rivers be clean and unpolluted. When pollution threatens a river, it threatens the very livelihood of those outdoors companies, and they in turn are motivated to help protect the waterway. They also strive to improve a river’s accessibility, which in turn creates affection for the river from the public. This way, in the event of an environmental threat, there is a higher chance of public outcry to aid in the protection effort.


So when you think of whitewater rafting and river sports, think conservation — the two are closely linked.




Unforgettable Experiences for Groups


Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Chattooga are the true gems of our country’s waterways. They make excellent destinations for anyone looking to introduce a dash of fun into their lives — and whitewater rafting on Wild and Scenic Rivers is an especially good activity for groups of all kinds.


Youth groups, corporate groups, family reunions, church groups, and more can enjoy the exhilarating feeling of riding a raft downstream, as well as having to work together to keep it on course. The unique teamwork nature of whitewater rafting makes it an enriching experience for any groups looking to foster a bit of team-building.



Top Outdoor Adventure | Southeastern Expedition


Whitewater rafting on Wild and Scenic Rivers is also an important way to reestablish the importance of nature in our lives, allowing us the chance to reconnect with it amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life. And remember that every time you go whitewater rafting, you are lending a vote of support to the conservation of one of our planet’s greatest resources: its rivers.

Three Ways an Overnight Camping Trip Relieves Stress


Life gets so busy with all that fills your schedule. Appointments, conference calls and social activities compete for spots on your calendar. Even the little time you have left seems to fill with chores and errands. Overnight Camping | Southeastern Expeditions


You need a break.


But sometimes going away for the weekend isn’t enough. An overnight camping trip will provide you with the tools you need to truly relax by relieving stress in the following ways three ways.

Truly Unplugging


Nothing can encourage you to truly unplug from your everyday life quite like a camping trip. It removes you from the TV, the computer, and all the other day-to-day devices that require electricity.


The only thing left to distract you is your phone. Although cell phone coverage continues to expand, you won’t be tempted to check Instagram when the beautiful outdoors are surrounding you. Believe it or not, the world will go on even when you turn your phone off. It may take a few hours or so to adjust, but once you do, your mind and body will be in such a refreshed state that you will be better able approach life in a healthy, appreciative way once your trip is over.

Relieving Stress Through Perspective


Sometimes life is hard to make sense of when you are right in the middle of it. Camping allows you to take a hike away from life’s intricacies to the top of a mountain or deep in the woods so you can examine life’s big picture. That big picture will remind you that the things that once seemed so massive and stressful are in fact a manageable size.


Additionally, calming sounds like crickets chirping and the nearby river splashing will replace the obnoxious noises of car horns honking that you’re used to. Hills towering over you against a blue sky and trees spreading their arms to shade your campsite will provide visual stress relief from the texts and notifications of your wild workweek.


Enjoying Your Friends and Family


Camping allows you the time to get away with those you care about the most. Pitching a tent together builds a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Sitting around a campfire will generate deep conversations and laughter that will be remembered for a lifetime. This shared feeling that comes from watching a stunning sunset or hiking along a trail by a lake will draw you closer together. When you do end up back at your desk on Monday you will have peace knowing that you did what matters most in life, spending time with those you care about.


No matter who you are, you can benefit from an overnight camping trip and the stress relief it will bring you. Life is too short to not enjoy the outdoors. If you’re interested in planning your stress relieving adventure today, contact Southeastern Expeditions!



Five Lessons Kids Can Learn from an Overnight Camping Trip with Their Pals

There’s Something Different Outside

Kids love to explore.  

And kids love to go exploring outside, most of the time. But if they never get a chance to, if you never take them out, they’ll miss some of the most important lessons they can grab in their youth.   Children Camping | Southeastern Expeditions

Things like knot tying, rappelling, river rafting and learning how to build a fire.  

But to get all those skills, you’ve got to…  

Get Out of the City!

There’s more to life than pavement.   

But when the only outlet your children have for exploration is their own city block, or their iPad, they’re not getting these wonderful lessons from the outdoors.  

Here are some ideas for an overnight camping trip where you have a little more time than usual to get acquainted with the outdoors.    


Make a Compass Course 

On an overnight trip, bring along a map and a compass.  

Create a course that teaches your kids how to navigate outside, and have fun! 

Making a compass course is simple.  

Just set the compass to one point and walk in that direction a certain number of feet – you can make it easier by choosing an object to stop at – like a rock or a tent. Write down where you started and the correct number of degrees. You can also pinpoint these spots on the map you’ve brought.   

Do this for three, five or ten different points – just as many as you’d like the course to last. Then give the information to your campers. 

Easier: Provide them with degrees, number of steps and the destination marker (rock, tree etc.) 

Harder: Provide them with degrees and number of steps only.   


Create Happy Children On the River

If you decide to take a river trip, the best way to enjoy it is going overnight. The river is an exciting place, and you can encourage rafting, swimming and water safety skills all on one trip. From how to hold a paddle, to how to ride a wave and navigate the river, scout ahead or avoid rocks.  

There are so many character building lessons when kids get to go out on a river trip. They’ll come back bigger.


Building Skills in and Enjoyment of Nature 

The best way to help children build the life skills they need to survive and thrive is by bringing them out into nature.  

Have you ever tried sitting by a tree for a whole day?  

Ignite the tracker in your kids by going out before sunrise and finding a spot that’s perfect to sit underneath a tree. Bring a pad and pen or pencil to sketch and record your thoughts. But don’t be so quick to use it.  

Just take in nature and you will be surprised at what you experience.  

Some people have tried this and become so one with the forest, by being so still, that they have close contact with deer and small animals, birds and can hear sounds and see life that they’ve never experienced before. Those things come early and late in the day. But they also come with stillness and quiet.   

Training your kids to get the skill of just being quiet and at home under a tree is an amazing gift.  


Campfire Skills  

Getting to build a fire is one of the most magical parts of camping outside.  

It’s also one of the practical ones. Collecting firewood, selecting the best sticks for starter, tinder and kindling, plus learning the important parts of fire safety all lead a young person to gain new appreciation for the most basic of all elements, and pride in being able to learn a camp skill that is so useful – allowing for warmth, cooking, camaraderie and entertainment 


Camping Skills 

Nothing is like camping out – either in a tent or under the stars. Once a child has slept outside then there will be no holding him back from experiencing whatever the natural world has in store.  

What to Expect When Rafting on the Chattooga River



Wondering what to expect when rafting on the Chattooga River?


What To Expect When Rafting on the Chattooga River | Southeastern Expeditions

Well, You Asked for It…

Only to get pummeled by rocks, struck by whitewater waves – countless gallons of them, to lose your razor sharp paddle if you’re not careful!  IF you fall out… to face oncoming boulders with your feet downstream so you can bump away using your heels like Neil Armstrong bouncing off a moon rock; the alternative means bumping away using your face or head.


Jackets and Sunscreen

Other than that, we expect you’ll be comfortable as long as you wear a spray jacket in the winter (we provide) and sunscreen in the summer. But you may still need a jacket in the summer, if only just to tie it around your waist or to some apparatus in the raft, because the river spray likes to gets down into your bones once you’ve been out in it for an hour, two, three, four – or all dripping day.

  Continue reading…

What Does Being a Wild and Scenic River Mean for the Chattooga River?


What does being a wild and scenic river mean for the Chattooga River? Let’s try to understand the answers.

Our Nation’s River Classes

Wild and Scenic Chattooga River | Southeastern Expeditions

First, you must know about the way the United States government classifies rivers: as recreational, scenic or wild.

If a river can easily be gotten to by road or rail, abuts shoreline development and has been diverted or stopped by humans, this is a Recreational River Area. It can also be the section of a longer river with multiple classifications.

If a river is not impounded and mostly undeveloped, though accessible in part by roads, this is a Scenic River Area.

If a river is only accessed by trail and also free of built-up, impounding features, this is a river or section of which that is classed Wild River Area.

Despite these designations, it’s important to know that only 0.33 percent of our nation’s rivers are actually protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system.

Continue reading…

Reasons Why You Should Enjoy a Chattooga Adventure This Fall

Reasons To Enjoy a Chattooga Adventure During Fall | Southeastern Expeditions

A collection of rafts pull over to the shore, and guests and guides begin hiking up to Long Creek Falls, one of the many stops along their trip down Section IV of the Chattooga River. It’s a misty day with a monochrome sky. But a slight breeze cuts through the river corridor, showering everyone in a dazzling array of color. Leaves of yellow, orange, and red dance about then descend into the water.


Fall is a great time of year to visit the Chattooga Watershed. The temperatures are mild and the scenery is spectacular. Waterfalls are abundant in the area, with access trails ranging from the 1/4-mile stroll to all day adventures. If you prefer overlooks, take a moderate ramble around Whiteside Mountain, forming the headwaters of the Chattooga River, between Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina. Or for the more ambitious hiker, walk the two-mile trail up to the lookout platform on Rabun Bald, the second highest peak in Georgia, for a 360-degree view of four states.

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Check Out Some of the Top Outdoor Activities in North Georgia!

Top Outdoor Activities in North Georgia | Southeastern Expeditions White Water Rafting

This is one of the great reasons to come to Georgia. A Chattooga expedition is your gateway to a romping wet good time. And with different levels of intensity, is often perfect for the whole family.  

Robert G. Hunter Memorial Park

This park covers 83 acres. You can find it in Douglasville on 8830 Gurley Road, which is off of Highway 5. Here you can use the track, pool, play tennis, and take your kids to the playground, or even a fishing lake. There’s a mini train and activity center.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park

Let the cartoon come to life at this family fun theme park and campground. There’s really nothing else like it…you can camp in an RV, tent or rent one of 6 cabins, but instead of just a recreation room, you’ll have access to a mini Disneyland. Just with Yogi Bear instead of Mickey.

You’ll find a swimming pool, mini-pool mini-golf, mini-train, gemstone mine and a movie house. Ride tortoises and much more. Many seasonal activities happen as well. It’s two miles from I-20, by exit 9.    Continue reading…

Overnight Camping Spots Closer to Home on the East Coast


Overnight Camping Spots Closer to Home on the East Coast|Southeastern ExpeditionsMany people on the East Coast look to faraway places to experience an outdoor adventure. Some travel as far away as Utah, California or the Pacific Northwest for an overnight camping spot.   


 However, a great escape doesn’t have to be a trek to a remote area of the U.S. or some distant land.    


Southeastern Expeditions offers exciting overnight camping just a stone’s throw away from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.


 If you’re looking for overnight camping spots closer to home on the East Coast, you don’t want to miss out on all the attractions offered by Southeastern Expeditions.


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Activities for Girl Scouts on the Chattooga River to Earn Wild in Georgia Badge


Activities for Girl Scouts on the Chattooga River to Earn Wild in Georgia Badge | Southeastern Expedition

We have so much to offer at the river, and even more for Girl Scouts. Who says that Boy Scouts get all the breaks? The Wild in Georgia badge has as much punch and nature observation as many comparable Boy Scout merit badges. 


And here by the river, you’ll get to sample not just an amazing trip, but learn in depth about the natural history of our incredible state.

Continue reading…