The small town of Helen, Georgia, is surrounded by mountain scenery and not far from the outdoor recreation opportunities of the Chattahoochee National Forest. In addition to hiking, cycling, horseback riding and exploring, Helen is near the Chattahoochee River, where visitors canoe, tube and experience hours of rafting adventure floating the river's twists and turns.
Self-Guided and Guided Rafting
Experienced rafters can raft the Chattanooga River near Helen on their own. Rental companies, such as Wildwood Outfitters, provide rafting adventures on the Chattanooga. Trips begin approximately 20 miles south of Helen, and offer courses of five to 10 miles. Wildwood Outfitters rents equipment for usage by rafters five years of age and older. In addition to rafts, the rental price includes parking, helmets, life jackets, paddles and a shuttle service.
Southwestern Expeditions is another rafting company in the area that provides guided river rafting services in Helen. It is the oldest river rafting company in the southeast, and offers guided rapid trips that last between six and seven hours. Customers can choose between a beginner or intermediate trip led by a professional guide. The company also offers overnight trips complete with a rafting guide, a camp chef and the opportunity to forage for food. Overnight trips last two days and one night, and include four meals.
The Time of Year to Go Rafting
The Chattanooga River is open seven days a week. Visitors should only raft the rapids between mid-March and late October. Avoid this stretch of the river during the winter months, as temperature highs in the winter reach the 40s and lows dip into the 20s. Rafters risk hypothermia when rafting during these months.
White Water Rapid Safety and General Information
Guided rapid trips are appropriate for families and groups of rafters age 13 or older with all types of experience backgrounds. Novice rafters should avoid advanced areas of the river when navigating without a professional guide. In addition to a wet suit, rafters should wear insulated clothing during the spring and fall months such as wool caps, jackets and tennis shoes. Summer months bring warmer weather; rafters need only wear a swim suit, shorts and a t-shirt.
Glass is not allowed while rafting, floating or boating on the river. All children under the age of 10 must wear U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation device at all times, regardless of the conditions of the water. Additionally, adults are required to wear flotation devices when traveling on specified sections of the Chattahoochee River between the Morgan Falls Dam and the Morgan Falls Boat Ramp, and between the Buford Dam and the GA 20 highway bridge. Rafters should always check the river's conditions with the National Weather Service before embarking on a trip.