Thursday, December 20, 2012

NOC to Offer New Whitewater Rafting Trips on the Chattahoochee River

This blog has moved. You will be redirected to the new blog in 5 seconds. If your browser does not redirect, please click the following URL:

Big news! Last week NOC announced plans to open its eighth whitewater rafting outpost in Columbus, Georgia. The outpost will offer trips on a 2.5 mile section of the Chattahoochee River touted as "the longest urban whitewater course in the world." The trips will be the southernmost whitewater rafting trips available in the Eastern United States and will likely have an extended season thanks to the warm climate. Here's the whole scoop:

An NOC raft explodes out of the hole at the bottom of Cut Bait rapid on the Chattahoochee during a high-water  scouting run in Fall 2012. Photo by Mike Haskey for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Coweta Falls: Before the construction of the Eagle and Phenix and City Mills dams in 1866 and 1907 this section of whitewater was known as "Coweta Falls." Like Great Falls on the Potomac, the rapids in Columbus are caused by a fall line, a geological boundary where a harder upland rockshelf transitions to a softer coastal plain. When a river drops over a fall line the elevation change often creates an opportunity for whitewater rapids, like in Columbus. The removal of both dams will be complete in early 2013, restoring the river to its natural state and revealing rapids long hidden below the city's reservoirs. Because only one dam has been removed so far, NOC has yet to actually see the entire run.

Rapids: Get ready for everything; NOC expects to offer trips for all skill levels on Class II to V rapids. Why such a wide range? Because the rafting experience varies with the magnitude of flow running through the rapids. At lower levels the river isn't as pushy or powerful, though it still flows quickly and makes for fun, splashy rafting. The water levels in the Coweta Falls section depend on upstream hydropower facilities; if those are running all-out, the big flows on the Chattahoochee will produce major Class V rapids rivaling the Gauley, New and Colorado rivers. We expect the flows to follow a standard daily schedule offering family/beginner trips in the morning and big-water/high-adventure trips in the late afternoon. 

A Fall 2012 NOC scouting trip paddles through Cut Bait at a moderate water level on the Chattahoochee River  between Columbus, Ga. and Phenix City, Al.

Columbus: NOC will be the exclusive outfitter of Columbus, Ga., and we will be one of only two permitted outfitters running the Coweta Falls section of the river. Beyond rafting, NOC's planned Columbus Adventure Center will provide gear and apparel from leading manufacturers, advice for do-it-yourself outdoor activities, and reservations for additional outdoor adventures.

Learning a New River: Throughout the company's 40-year history NOC has led early commercial rafting operations on nearly every major whitewater run in the Southeast. Most recently NOC started commercial rafting operations on the Cheoah River near Robbinsville, N.C.the nation's most challenging commercially guided whitewater rafting trip. The Chattahoochee's large flow variations and its unique urban environment provide NOC's guides an exciting opportunity. Full scouting runs will begin as soon as the dam removal is complete, and then NOC will begin training staff for a summer 2013 opening.

How to Reserve a Trip: Reservations to raft the Chattahoochee will be available by phone and at Trips are not on sale yet though. NOC must first complete a thorough evaluation of the river at all release levels before we are able to provide essential trip planning information including age restrictions, exact rapid difficulties, fitness levels and trip length. Updates on the Chattahoochee will be available via NOC's monthly enewsletter and this blog.

One Last Note: All of us at NOC would like to say how excited we are to be in Columbus. NOC operates in many communities that embrace outdoor recreation, and we don't know anyone more fired up for whitewater paddling. The restored Chattahoochee will be a great recreational opportunity in a great city!