Summer’s Best Youth Outing

Youth Trip Ocoee River
Nothing seems to excite the younger generation quite like white-water rafting. Experience a youth trip at Quest Expeditions, we have it all: teamwork, outdoor adventures, nature and a chance to develop real-life skills. There is no place, for sure, to realize all these adventures like on the storied Ocoee River. Quest provides superior facilities: group lodging, catered meals, meeting room, picnic facilities, pavilion, sand volleyball and the finest youth trips in the southeastern United States. This White-water rafting adventures takes place on Cherokee land. The name given to the river, Ocoee, is what the tribe around it called the passion flower or known as apricot place. Locally known as the passion vine – a perfect name for this river indeed. Previously, the river has served as the venue for the Olympic Whitewater Kayaking competition during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Lastly, the river is dam-controlled: providing unusually warm water, big waves and a guaranteed water flow from the dam upsteream. Many youth groups have a wide array of activity options that they can take part in while seeking adventure, but what are the benefits for youth trips rafting on a whitewater stream? Below are a few points on why a youth trip is worth a try.

  1. Unforgettable Experience

White-water rafting is an activity that most individuals do not take part in everyday or even once over their lifetime. It is quite probable that most members of a youth group have never tried out rafting before, and they might never get such an opportunity again. It is a memorable and exhilarating experience that will surely make a lasting impression on every member of your youth group. Indeed, they will always relive the rafting experience every time they recall the youth trip that summer day.

  1. Teamwork

Immediately a team heads out for a full day or an afternoon of white-water rafting, every single individual plays a significant role in ensuring that the experience is worthwhile. The team works in harmony in pursuit of a common goal; this makes the whole trip a very effective team building initiative. The common goals can develop trust within a group and assist the members to learn more about team dynamics. Even so, some members of the team may come up as leaders and showcase some of their leadership skills while participating in the activity.

  1. Fellowship

A whitewater rafting trip is a shared experience that groups of teens get to relish. White-water rafting gives the team members an opportunity to bond and create lasting relationships over a common activity and away from the daily pressures of life. The team members will learn how to communicate better among one another and enjoy stronger relations within the group, which will show once they resume normal team activities at work or at home.

  1. Learning Experience

Acquiring new skills will prepare the team members for real-life scenarios. Taking part in white-water rafting is a good way to acquire new skills while having fun. Team members get to enjoy learning in a beautiful location as they relax and have fun on an exciting youth trip.

  1. Outdoor Nature

White-water rafting will get the participating team members out of their normal surroundings, so they can soak in the real beauty of nature. People who live around urban centers do not get enough time away from buildings, concrete, and bustling streets. Taking part in this adventure helps such individuals to connect with nature in many ways.

  1. Versatility

Almost every individual can take part in white-water rafting: for as long as the minimum age requirement of 12 is met, even with no experience in the sport. Participants, moreover, do not have to have swimming skills, and it is an all-inclusive activity which you can take part in as a team. Conclusion People often refer to Quest Expeditions’ Ocoee River rafting trips as the most popular group outing each summer, and this tag does not come out of thin air: simply put, our white-water rafting adventure is one activity that you do not want to miss. Indeed, the Ocoee River trip is a good outing undertaking for churches, groups, friends, families, girl’s day out, or corporate trips. With an added benefit of an outdoor experience. Schools, business, and teams take part in a rafting trip for team building reasons and the need to create a sense of belonging within the group. For reservations and more information plan your youth trip now.

5 Unique Outings Near Ocoee Tennessee

Olympic Size Memories Whitewater Rafting

Tennessee is known for its beautiful landscapes, historical events, country music, and tourist attractions. These include the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, and Dollywood. The state is also a hot spot for anyone seeking one-of-a-kind thrilling outdoor adventures. Explore an underground lake, raft the Olympic Whitewater Course, visit a mountain bike resort or soar above Tennessee in a glider plane.

If you’re looking for something really exciting to do on your next vacation, these five unique outings near Ocoee Tennessee are guaranteed to thrill and create wonderful lifetime memories.

Full Day Ocoee River Rafting Trip

Enjoy rafting through some of the most exciting whitewater in the United States. The upper and middle sections of the Ocoee River is the perfect trip. Located in the National Forest, rafters will experience the thrill of a lifetime. You’ll ride through a continuous flow of class III and IV white water, large waves, major rapids, and exciting drops.

Quest Expeditions offers a full-day trip of Olympic size fun white water rafting that takes you through the same river that was used for the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Competition Course. This full-day river rafting adventure will take you and your group through big waves, bolder strewn rapids, deep holes, and the famous beast of rapids appropriately called Humongous. Quest Expeditions white water rafting trips are perfect for family adventures or group outings.

Mountain Bike Resort

Nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Mountain Bike Resort offers several exciting adventures. The resort caters to guided mountain bike tours for outdoor enthusiasts and groups. The resort is in the middle of a 15-acre area designated the “Mountain Bike Capital.” Adventure seekers can spend one or several days in the area by renting one of the cabins or bringing their own camping gear.

Chilhowee Gliderport

Feel the freedom of gliding above the breathtaking scenic landscape of the Tennessee countryside. Soar above the Hiwassee River in one of Chilhowee Gliderport’s motorless sailplanes. Chilhowee Gliderport offers 20- and 30-minute aerial tours all year round for single or small, two-passenger groups.

Cherokee Indian Capital Red Clay State Park

Cherokee Indian Capital Red Clay State Park is a beautiful historic place along the Tennessee-Georgia border. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of this 263-acre expanse while hiking on miles of moderately graded trails. There are also annual festivals, several nearby attractions, cultural and historic sites, and numerous planned programs throughout the year. The park has a 500-seat amphitheater, a smaller theater space, a Visitor’s Center, and a pavilion. Spend a day learning about the historical significance of the area while in awe of its natural beauty.

Lost Sea

Lost Sea offers a most unique and exciting cavern tours. This adventure takes place in the country’s largest underground lake, a Registered National Landmark. Located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, Lost Sea offers daily excursions include a ¾-mile round trip tour down sloping pathways to an underground lake.

Once you reach the lake, a boat will take you on a tour through the caverns. Here you can learn the history of the caves and see rare anthodites and other geological formations. Each tour takes 85 minutes, and special overnight tours are also offered to groups.

Choosing a Whitewater Outfitter

7 Rafting Tips for Choosing Your Whitewater Rafting Outfitter

Are you looking for an exciting adventure that’s sure to impress everyone in your group? Whether you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, co-workers, or scouting group, white water rafting is exactly the sort of thing you need to shake up your get-together. Check out these rafting tips for a great adventure.

River rafting is exciting, but the best part about it is that you don’t have to b Rafting with Quest Expeditionse an expert, or shell out a ton of money for your own equipment to enjoy it. There are plenty of outfitters out there who can provide the equipment and experienced guide for you, no matter your experience level with the sport.

But how do you choose one of these outfitters? It’s important to know which companies are credible and which are just looking to make a quick buck because going out on the river unprepared could be detrimental to your health.

Keep reading to learn our best raft tips for choosing your whitewater rafting outfitter.

1. Their Equipment Doesn’t Make You Say “Ew”

The first thing you should do when looking at a rafting outfitter is take a look at their equipment. Some wear is normal, if it’s not the most beautiful thing with the best paint job you’ve ever seen, you’re probably still alright.

However, it should be cleaned, well maintained and organized. If their life vests are fraying or torn up, you want to go somewhere else.

At the end of the day, you want an outfitter that cares about your safety and your comfort, and they start by taking care of the equipment they supply for you.

2. Their Facilities Are Top Notch

Most rafting outfitters also offer lodging. Take a look at where their lodging is and whether or not it fits with your needs. Many places are located in rural areas. Are you looking for a wilderness experience or lodging closer to a town? Be sure to look at their website and ask questions.

Are their facilities clean? Do they seem well loved and taken care of? This part of your trip is just as important as the actual rafting.

You don’t want to come back from a day of rafting to find that your cabin is not what you were expecting. Be sure to look at website photos and brochures.

3. Adventures for Everyone

Whitewater rafting is an interesting sport because it offers a varying degree of difficulty depending on your experience or levels of desired thrill. And when you’re in a big group, you’re probably going to want to find a trip that’s suitable for beginners.

The rafting outfitter needs to be aware of everyone’s age, physical condition, and ability. Then, they should be able to give you an idea of the sort of trips available to your group.

If you’ve got a team with young kids, you’ll want a beginner course. This is a course with small waves, no experience necessary, and no special fitness or swimming requirements.

If you’re an expert, you know by now that some of the trips can be difficult with large drops and a solid chance of getting thrown from the raft.

Make sure your outfitter knows what you can handle and respects that.

4. An Experienced Guide

A whitewater trip would be incomplete without a good guide. The first thing you should consider when looking into a guide is how personable they are. You want them to be able to get along with everyone in the group.

Their primary job is to steer you safely through a fun adventure. But they should be able to do this with calmness and kindness because the trip is going to go so much better if everyone feels comfortable. The guide should also have a wonderful teachers touch by teaching you the whitewater skills you need for a safe trip.

However, their level of experience is important as well. The last thing you want is to feel like you’ve gotten on a raft with an untrained guide, no matter how nice he or she is.

You want a guide who knows the river well and has training is safety and first aid.

5. Clean Bill of Safety

The next thing you need to consider is how safe the rafting outfitter is. No matter how easy the route is, river rafting can be a dangerous adventure.

You want to do as much research as you can into the rafting outfitter. Ask the outfitter what their safety record looks like, but then do your own look about the internet. If you see some blemishes on their record that they didn’t disclose to you. Look at photos on their website and in their brochure. Do the photos show rafters having fun with clean well maintained equipment. Do they display photos of flipping rafts, guests being thrown from the boat and guides adding risk to the trip. This may not be the outfitter you are looking for.

6. The Price is Right

At the end of the day, you’re placing your safety in the hands of the rafting outfitter. You don’t want to spring for the cheapest company you can find.

There’s a lot that goes into ensuring that you and your group are safe. They need to stay up to date on the latest safety measures, equipment, and training. All of these things cost money, and in turn, tend to drive the prices for their services a little higher.

Think about the kind of company you want to go with here and spring for the one that seems like it’s going to keep you the safest while giving you a good time, not the cheapest one out there.

7. Do People Come Back?

Lastly, you want to take a look at their ratings. Do their customers come back? Rafting is the adventure of a lifetime and when people get a taste, they want to keep coming back year after year.

If the rafting outfitter doesn’t seem to have a lot of return business, start to think about and ask why. The best advice we can give you is to look online and see what their customers are saying about them. If a lot of people are loving the time they spend there, you’re probably with one of the good ones.

Follow These Raft Tips to Find the Best Outfitter Out There

We hope these raft tips will help get you and your group out on the water. Rafting is an incredible hobby for people with an adventurous soul. You’ll have a great time and you’ll meet like-minded people who will become friends for a lifetime.

Just make sure you’re going with the right outfitter. They make or break the experience, and it only takes a little bit of time to ensure that you’re finding the right one for you.

Check out white water rafting Tennessee today!


Hit the River! 8 Reason You Next Family Trip Should be Whitewater Rafting

Hit the River! 8 Reasons Your Next Family Trip Should Be Whitewater Rafting

Trying to figure out your family’s next great adventure? Here’s why whitewater rafting is a great trip idea that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Sometimes it’s hard to find something everyone in the family will enjoy, especially when you are on vacation. Grandma may enjoy museums while kids want to go to the amusement park. How do you find a fun excursion which is appropriate for everyone?

Whitewater rafting is an excellent option for a great way to bond with the whole family. There are levels available for people of all ages and abilities. You will enjoy the great outdoors together and create memories which will last a lifetime.

Here are eight reasons you should consider a whitewater rafting trip for your next family holiday. Share the experience.

1. There’s a Safety Level For Everyone

While you probably should not bring very young infants on a rafting trip, there are options for almost every other physical ability. Rivers are classified by level of difficulty from smooth and easy to wildly risky.

Within each class, there is variation. Every class can be categorized as easy or difficult.

Here are the general levels of skill required for each class. You should be able to find something that meets the needs of everyone in your group.

  • Class I: Easy. These are easiest to navigate for beginners. Waters move smoothly with few obstructions.
  • Class II: Novice. These are rapids that can be managed by most beginning rafters with some experience. The waters move fast but the obstructions can be easily avoided
  • Class III: Intermediate. Some obstructions on these routes may be difficult to maneuver, plus you may experiences waves, eddies, and strong currents.
  • Class IV: Advanced. There are very powerful waters, multiple obstructions, narrow channels, and dangers to swimmers.
  • Class V: Expert. These are recommended only for the strongest and most experienced rafters.
  • Class VI: Extreme. These are the most dangerous rapids in the world.

2. It’s an Opportunity to Experience Nature Together

Rarely does a family get the chance to be out in the fresh air and to experience the majesty of nature as a group. We are often distracted by jobs, school, TV, and other media.

By experiencing the power and thrill of white water, you will come together as a unit in a way you seldom get to experience in daily life. You may see birds and wildlife in their natural habitats. You will be immersed in the elements.

3. You Can Do It in Numerous Regions Around the US and Beyond

There are many rivers throughout the United States where you can plan a whitewater rafting trip. From Colorado to Tennessee, to Maine to Utah, you can find a multitude of scenic options.

If you want to stay close to home, you can plan a day trip. If you want to take advantage of spring break or summer vacation, you can travel to a part of the country which you have never seen before.

You can even take this sport abroad, rafting on rivers in Europe and Asia!

4. It Gets Kids and Adults off Their Screens

Whether it is work, school, or play, everyone these days seems glued to a computer or some kind of mobile device. Families engage in less face-to-face communication, and kids can find it hard to put down the phone!

A whitewater rafting trip is not an ideal place to take a phone. It could easily get water-logged or lost. Take this as an opportunity to leave the devices at home and communicate with each other directly.

One exception is if you want to take photos. Just remember to use a waterproof pouch!

5. It’s Safer Than You Think

So long as you choose the appropriate level river for your family’s skills, you will rarely encounter any serious risks. You should always raft with an experienced and certified rafting outfitter, with instructors who are educated in all safety procedures.

You will all be required to wear safety helmets and life jackets on your river trip, as well as go through the required safety training.

6. It Gets Your Adrenaline Pumping!

Of course, the real reason to go whitewater rafting is the thrill! You will experience a little bit of risk,  just enough to get the blood pumping!

As you all paddle wildly over rocks, feel the spray of water in your face and scream in unison as you plummet over the waves, you will all appreciate the exhilaration of true adrenaline.

Teenagers and seniors alike benefit from the occasional jump start to the system, caused by the body’s reflexes kicking into action due to a physical challenge. You are all likely to eat well and sleep deeply after an active day battling the river. All with a smile.

This is the life!

7. It Can Be Combined with Other Activities

Whitewater rafting can be combined with other outdoor activities like camping and hiking. If your family enjoys the great outdoors, you can arrange a river trip where you set up camp along the river and cook dinner under the stars over an open flame.

On the other hand, if your relatives like outdoor activities in small doses, there are many places you can spend the day on the river and the evening in a fun urban area like Chattanooga.

8. It Encourages Teamwork

As you paddle through rapids, over large waves and between boulders, every member of the rafting team must work in tandem to avoid tipping. You must listen to your guide, know when to push and when to stop, and row together in unison when necessary.

These lessons are also valuable for everyday life, with family members or colleagues. Squabbles and rifts have no place on the river, and the experience may improve how you interact with people you love and with whom you work.

Additionally, the sense of accomplishment you all will feel after a whitewater rafting trip will be a memory you all will share forever.

Whitewater Rafting: Something for Everyone

Whitewater rafting can make an exhilarating family adventure in addition to a meaningful bonding experience. By finding our common interests, fears, and triumphs, we grow closer to those with whom we overcome challenges.

Nothing brings a family closer than a day on the river and a night under the stars. Enjoy the outdoors together and strengthen the ties that bind.

For more information on whitewater rafting, contact us.

Waterfalls in Polk County Tennessee

Explore Beautiful Waterfalls Near Quest Expeditions

There are several waterfalls near Quest Expeditions located in the Cherokee National Forest. Several with easy to moderate access and some more remote involving a longer hike. Just minutes from Highway 64 near Lake Ocoee is Benton Falls.This is a beautiful waterfall with a pool at the bottom. The hike to the falls is just a beautiful. The drive to this area was the nations first designated scenic byway in the National Forest, be sure to make a stop at the overlook on your drive back for a great sunset. From Quest Expeditions take Highway 64 east into the Cherokee National Forest. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 77  drive to the Benton Fallstop of the mountain and follow the sign to the Chillowee Recreation Area.

Gee Creek Falls, on Tennessee State Park trail 191. An easy walk and a great hike for those camping at Gee Creek campground. The falls are 25 feet, during the spring the area is full of wildflowers and a nice pool is at the bottom of the falls. Located just off highway 411 near Delano, TN. There is a state park welcome center and campground that can give you all the information.

Turtletown Fall is a 40 foot drop followed by another 20 foot drop. There is a moderately difficult trail to the fall. Use Forest Service trail 185. On Highway 68 turn west at Farner post office, go over the railroad track and turn left on Duggan Rd, bear right on Farner Rd. Forest Service Road 1166 is the first road on the right. Follow the dirt road about 1.5 miles tothe trail. Parking is available.

Goforth Creek is not a true waterfall but a beautiful creek cascading into the Ocoee River. A nice hiking trail runs along the creek for a beautiful hike. This is a nice area for photos, nature and playing the the cool pools. Goforth is located along Highway 64 near the famous whitewater section of the middle Ocoee. Look for the sign Goforth Creek.


A Unique Adventure – River Snorkeling

Out and About – Snorkeling Near Quest Expeditions

When you plan that rafting trip with Quest Expeditions check out some other adventures nearby. The following suggestions are excellent adventures and range in cost from free to inexpensive.

Did you know there is excellent snorkeling near Quest Expeditions? Yes, on the Conasauga River, only minutes from our outpost on Highway 64. It is like a natural aquarium that you can get immersed in. Over a thousand individual fish are present on a warm summer day. You’ll see colorful Blueside Darters, an exotic Coosa Darters or maybe the prehistoric looking Hellbender plus hundreds of other native fish! The watershed of the Colorado River is much larger than the Conasauga but the Conasauga boasts over three times the native fish. You can do this adventure on your own. You will need to bring your own snorkel equipment, wetsuit, lunch and drinking water.

Try a unique swimming hole? Visit the Ole Blue Hole located near the Whitewater Center along US Highway 64. On weekdays the slow current of the Ocoee creates a number of swimming holes, pools, shallows and wading spots. There are several intimate pools you can have all to yourself and lots of sunbathing on the large boulders. There is a small parking fee to access this area. You’ll also find biking trails, picnic facilities and restrooms.

Two additional swimming areas are located along Highway 64 on Parksville Lake. They both provide a nice beach and swimming area maintained by the Forest Service. Located in the Chilhowee Recreation Area is McCamy Lake. This is an excellent swimming area located at the top of Chilhowee Mountain. You’ll find a nice 7 acre lake with a well maintained swimming area. Also located here is a campground, hiking trails and waterfalls . Located near the top of Chilhowee Mountain you’ll find some cooler relief during the heat of summer.

Visit Quest Expeditions for additional information. You’ll also find more information on swimming or snorkeling at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.



Some River History in Polk County Tennessee

Here in Polk County Tennessee the River rushes down gulches in the Appalachian Mountains, where millenniums of water flow have cut canyons through the solid granite. The grand Appalachians had more than granite to offer settlers, however; the large veins of copper found in these mountains are as big part of the area’s history as the river itself.

The Cherokee and Copper Mining

The Cherokee Indians were the original inhabitants of the area near the river known as the Copper Basin. In fact, the name Ocoee hails from them, as does the river’s other name, Toccoa, the moniker the Cherokee gave to the part of the river that runs through Georgia into Polk County Tennessee.

In 1836, the Treaty of New Echota started the forced exodus of the Cherokee from the area. The land, and its veins of copper, were eventually rediscovered by settlers in the mid-1800s.

The Cherokee’s small mining operations were taken over by settlers that began to remove copper from the mountains in larger quantities, a process that was difficult until it was helped by the construction of railroads.

Unfortunately, the mining process had a tremendous detrimental effect on the environment. Though the scars of the mining can still be seen today, reclamation efforts begun in the 1930s have greatly restored the natural beauty of the area.

Damming the River

The powerful flow of the Ocoee River itself became a source of energy in the early 1900s, when the Eastern Tennessee Power Company undertook the process of damming the river to produce hydroelectric power. More than one dam was built to harness the water, changing the flow of the river.

The operation came under the control of the Tennessee Valley Water Authority (TVA) in 1939. In the decades that followed people took notice of the rapids created by the dams, and soon thereafter outdoors enthusiasts started coming out with rafts to ride the whitewater.

The arrival of rafting the Ocoee River in the area led to a struggle with the TVA over the river’s use, which culminated in a 1983 agreement to schedule releases of water from the dams for the use of whitewater rafters. With this agreement came the advent of commercial whitewater rafting as well as competitive rafting, kayaking, and other water sports. This set the stage for the river to become a famous location when it was cast in the limelight of the 1996 Olympics. Sadly the contract for recreational releases will expire in 2018.

The 1996 Olympics

When Atlanta won the honor of hosting of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, they chose the Ocoee to be the location for the whitewater events. With a wide area along the upper Ocoee offering an ideal space to set up viewing for spectators, creation of a new course was begun. In July of 1996 more than 15,000 people arrived in the area to watch the whitewater canoe and kayak competitions, and the world’s eyes were on this small rural area in Polk County.

The expansion and improvements made for the Olympics – and the added exposure brought by the Games – transformed the area into an even more popular location for whitewater rafting. With the worldwide attention and publicity it received, the river quickly became one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the United States.

Today Polk County is home to a large number of companies offering whitewater rafting adventures for people of all skill levels. It draws more than 250,000 annually to try their hand at running the river, creating a strong and vibrant tourism industry that helps the area thrive.


5 Top Things to Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Located along the Tennessee River and nestled among the mountains, Chattanooga is a top tourist destination in the southeastern corner of Tennessee. The state’s fourth largest city, Chattanooga offers plenty for visitors to do, see, and enjoy, from a world-class aquarium to wild outdoor adventures. To get a great vacation started, every visitor should put these top five can’t-miss attractions on their list.

The Tennessee Aquarium

The beautifully-designed Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest aquarium in Tennessee. Sitting right on the banks of the Tennessee River, it offers close-up looks and interactive experiences with a wide range of fascinating creatures, from playful river otters to serene jellyfish to the largest number of turtle species in the United States.

There are touch-pools where you can touch stingrays, a reef cavern with up close views of cool sharks, a rainforest exhibit that invites visitors to walk amongst hundreds of beautiful butterflies, and a recently opened Alligator Bayou exhibit.

Spending a day at the Aquarium gives visitors an opportunity to discover a wide variety of water-based ecosystems, from deep sea to southern wetlands to sub-Antarctic.

The Aquarium even has an IMAX 3D Theater with a six-story screen, so there is literally something for everyone. The clean, well-organized layout makes it one of the city’s most visited and acclaimed attractions.

Lookout Mountain

Historic and beautiful Lookout Mountain offers a number of activities for visitors that cover a variety of interests.

For thrill-seekers, there is zip lining where you can fly around the forest canopy. History buffs will enjoy exploring Civil War history at the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, where a 3D presentation brings to life the battles that took place here.

The Incline Railway is the steepest passenger railway in the world, taking visitors on a ride into the clouds on tracks with an incredible 72.6 percent grade. Once you’re up on the mountain, it’s a great place to relax and just take in the view.

Whitewater Rafting Near Chattanooga

Only an hour outside of Chattanooga is the famous Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater events. Visitors to the area can take a ride on rapids that have been voted the best in the nation. Chattanooga Whitewater Rafting offers a great day of excitement and only minutes from downtown Chattanooga. This is the most popular whitewater rafting adventure in the United States.

With commercial rafting expeditions available for most ages (must be 12 years old) and experience levels, all equipment is provided, anyone from families to singles can give it a shot. The Ocoee is one of the greatest destinations in the state and not to be missed on any visit to Chattanooga.

Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Visitors can explore amazing sights beneath the earth’s surface just ten minutes from downtown. With more than 5.5 miles of mapped passageways, visitors can see incredible rock formations hidden throughout the cave system.

Tours range from easy one-hour guided walking tours to more advanced tours for those wanting a more adventurous cave-exploring experience. Outside the caves, there are beautiful views of the area, opportunities to pan for gems, a go-karting track, a gift shop, and more to round out a perfect day trip.

Tennessee Valley Railroad

Take a trip back in history while soaking up the beauty of the Chattanooga area on board one of the oldest operating railroads in the nation. At the Tennessee Valley Railroad you will board at a historic train station that feels like a step back in time, filled with models and artifacts from the railroad’s past.

There are a variety of tours available, including a dinner ride where you can enjoy an excellent meal while you watch the scenery pass by and learn about the history of the tracks that helped build America. This trip will please kids of all ages, even those who are just kids at heart.


White Water Kayaking Terminology

Like all sports, whitewater rafting and kayaking has a language of its own, and it can take a while to pick up all the terms. While there are many terms to learn, this basic glossary of terminology will get beginning paddlers started.

Equipment Terminology

Get to know some of the equipment white water kayakers use.

Back band: Located behind the seat, the back band helps the kayaker maintain an upright position in the kayak.

Booties: Specially-designed neoprene shoes worn by paddlers for comfort and security when walking in the water.

Drydeck: A one-piece cover that combines with a spray skirt to keep the paddler dry inside the boat.

Drysuit: A complete suit that seals out water, usually made of windbreaker material.

Dry bag: A waterproof bag designed to keep the contents dry while on the water.

Float bags: Inflatable bags that can be placed in the stern of the kayak for added buoyancy.

Grab loops: Loops located at the bow and stern that make it easier to carry and move the kayak, as well as serving as tie-off points for rescue ropes or tow lines.

Helmet: A safety helmet worn to protect the head.

Hip pads: Pads that are placed around the hips to keep the paddler secure in the seat.

Paddle: The double-ended paddle used to move the kayak.

PFD (personal flotation device): This piece of safety equipment keeps a paddler afloat in the water if the kayak capsizes or boaters fall out of the boat. Best know as a life Jacket.

Rescue vest/safety harness: A rescue vest and safety harness are used to assist with rescues from the water, allowing quick attachment and detachment from a kayak or other paddler as needed.

Spray skirt: A spray skirt covers the open part of the kayak to prevent water from gathering inside.

Thigh braces: Plastic braces inside the kayak to keep the paddler’s thighs in place.

Throw bag: This bag holds rope that is used as a tow line to rescue swimmers or kayaks.

Tow line: This rope can be used with a safety harness to assist swimmers or tow a kayak.

Wetsuit: A snug suit made of neoprene that provides insulation from cold water.

Water Feature Terminology

In the whitewater boaters will encounter a number of different features, each with its own name.

Boil: This water feature looks like boiling water, and it is caused by constricted water being forced back to the surface.

Chute: A narrow area of the water that leads to a drop.

Drop: A steep section of the water dropping in elevation.

Eddy/eddy line: This feature is formed when the water flows around an obstacle and is forced back upstream. An eddy line is the area where the two flows of water, with and against the current, meet and create unstable water.

Flatwater: Calm areas of water with little current.

Green water: Dark, fast, free-moving water without obstacles.

Hole: Also called a hydraulic, this feature is formed when water drops over an obstacle and then comes back up towards the obstacle.

Horizon line: This refers to a point where the paddler can’t see the river ahead on approach to a drop.

Pillow: A water feature where water rises above the surface and sends water in multiple directions.

Seam: A spot in the water where two currents meet.

Slide: Water pouring over a rock in such a way that the kayak can slide down.

Strainer: This feature is created when a tree or branch forms an obstacle that water can flow through but can cause a kayak to become trapped.

Undercut rock: This dangerous feature is a rock that water can flow under.

Wave: There are a variety of wave types, all created by rocks, constrictions of the river, or any other debris that the water can flow over.

White Water Kayaking Moves

These terms describe some of the basic actions a kayaker might take on the water.

Boof: This is a move that is used to keep the paddler upright over things like rocks, waterfalls, or drops. It uses a vertical stroke.

Bow draw: This is a very efficient turning stroke.

Eskimo roll: This move rights a kayak that has turned into the water.

Loop: This is a front flip. There are several types of loops.

Spin: A trick that involves spinning the kayak 360 degrees.

Sweep stroke: A basic turning stroke.

Surfing: This means riding a wave; there may be different or additional terms, depending on the type of wave or the direction of travel.

Understanding Whitewater Rafting River Classifications

Rivers, or sections of rivers, are classified into six different levels of difficulty to help whitewater rafters choose the right rapids for their skill level. From smooth, easy waters to the most dangerous rapids in the world, the classification levels cover all types of water.

How Classifications Work

The six classes, from Easy to Extreme, can be described in general terms, but even within each class, there is variation. A Class III rapid, for instance, may be on the easy side or on the more difficult side of the level. An easier Class III may be called a III-, while a harder one, bordering on Class IV, might be termed a III+. Some rafters may simply refer to them as an easy Class III or a difficult Class III. The same system is used for Class IV rapids, while Class II has only a II+ designation. At the Class V level, the distinctions become more granular; rapids are referred to as 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, and so on in that manner, allowing for the more complex nature of these very advanced rivers.

Each classification is described by the speed and predictability of the water, and the type of obstacles that exist in that section of the river. The higher the classification, the more skill is needed to safely navigate it.

  • Class I: Easy. The easiest to navigate for beginners, Class I rapids may have a swift current but move smoothly with few obstructions. These waters are easy to swim so self-rescue is almost always possible.
  • Class II: Novice. Expect easy-to-handle rapids that can be managed by most beginning rafters with some experience. These are fast-moving waters with obstructions that can be easily spotted and avoided, and swimmers can usually self-rescue with occasional assistance. Channels are wide and clear.
  • Class III: Intermediate. In this level of rapid, rafters can expect many obstructions, some of which are difficult to maneuver. Medium waves and occasionally large ones are seen; strainers, eddies, and strong currents are common. This type of rapid is best for rafters with a good deal of experience. Strong swimmers can usually self-rescue, but assistance is needed more frequently and the danger to swimmers is higher. Ranges from Class III- to Class III+
  • Class IV: Advanced. This level of rapid features very powerful waters, multiple obstructions, narrow channels, and a greater danger to swimmers. The water is very powerful and currents very strong. Fast and experienced maneuvering is required to safely navigate these waters. Group rescues are usually required for swimmers, and these rapids are not recommended for weak swimmers or groups without rescue experience. Ranges from Class IV- to Class IV+.
  • Class V: Expert. Rapids in the Class V level have an open classification system that uses decimal points. A 5.0 is the base level of this grade of rapids, and it goes up by 0.1 as difficulty increases. Class V rapids are recommended only for the strongest and most experienced rafters, and there is a great deal of danger to swimmers in these waters. These rapids can be very intense and go for long stretches, requiring a great deal of physical fitness and skill to navigate safely. Large waves, long drops, holes, and congested chutes are all common obstructions in a Class V rapid.
  • Class VI: Extreme/Exploratory. The most dangerous rapids in the world, Class VI rapids are not often attempted and often difficult to scout, making them unknown and unpredictable. Rescue in this type of rapid is extremely difficult. Only the most skilled rafters attempt these rapids, and even then, the danger is high. A Class VI rapid may be downgraded into a Class V level once it has been explored and successfully navigated several times.