Chattooga River, Georgia
This spectacular river was the shooting location for Deliverance, and since it’s nearly in my backyard, I’m going to refrain from any jokes about the banjo-picking locals. The 59-mile-long Chattooga begins near the mountain town of Cashiers in North Carolina, runs through Western South Carolina, and traces the border with Georgia before emptying into the Peachtree State. Blissfully, it’s one of the few rivers in the South that's not dam controlled. The river hits its highest levels during Spring, gushing through thick, azalea-decorated forests. The biggest thrill ride is the portion through South Carolina and Georgia known as Section IV, where the rapids rise to steady Class III, IV and, for a quarter mile so terrifying that it could make Burt Reynolds’s knees quake, V+.
Section IV takes a day to raft, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center has been running trips down it for nearly four decades. Trips start at $90.