On August 9th, the Georgia Conservancy and partners Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express are putting a GRAND on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. To commemorate last year’s opening of the world’s largest stretch of urban whitewater and to celebrate the Chattahoochee’s reemergence in Columbus, join 1,000 adventurers on the river for a day of whitewater rafting.
What you’ll see during The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle would have been impossible just two years ago. Whitewater rafting in downtown Columbus?!
For more than one hundred years, the Eagle and Phenix, and City Mills dams impeded the southerly flow of the Chattahoochee and brought its once mighty rush to a snail’s pace as it passed through Columbus. Though hidden for decades, the rocky floor that rested beneath the calm waters was well known to those who understood the history of the city.
The treacherous shoals of the fall line, the geologic formation that divides Georgia’s piedmont and coastal plain regions, was the northernmost point of travel for vessels traveling the Chattahoochee and the perfect location for hydro-powered industry and inland markets. It made economic sense that river towns like Columbus, Macon and Augusta laid their foundations at the fall line. As the industrial age ignited across America, dams were built and mills were constructed along the river. At the heart of the Chattahoochee,where once there was a natural wonder, a thriving city rose.
In 2013, the dams came down. The power that they had produced was no longer needed to fuel the city’s economy. However, the economic potential of the long-submerged rocky shoals remained, and forward-thinking civic leaders knew that with an undammed river, the power of the fall line could again be harnessed.
It is now the outdoor adventurer, not the industrialist, who seeks the world-class, free-flowing rapids of the Chattahoochee – rapids that, for so long, lay silenced. With the opening of the Columbus whitewater course on the Chattahoochee in 2013 – the longest stretch of urban whitewater in the world – Columbus is again looking to its river to fuel the future.
Leading the action on the water for The Grand will be the experienced rafting guides and support team from Whitewater Express, the official outfitter for the Columbus whitewater.
Seven different rafting time slots will be offered at a deep discount for participants throughout the day from the first run at 10 a.m. to the last high water run at 5 p.m.
In addition to the day’s events on the river, there will be plenty to do on land. Some of the available time slots also give guests the option to go on a guided Riverwalk bike tour for a small additional fee, and many of the groups involved in the event will have areas set up for fun and games.
Registration, while already deeply discounted, includes an invitation to an after-paddle party hosted at the Whitewater Express Outpost in Uptown Columbus and features live music from Sailing to Denver, local Columbus food trucks, an outdoor splash and play fountain, games, prizes, and activities hosted by the Atlanta Hawks Flight Team. Uptown Columbus will be shutting down the street for the after-paddle party between Whitewater Express and Woodruff Park at 1000 Bay Street.
All rafting guests and sponsors will receive a “drink ticket” for a free SweetWater beer (and a beer wristband) or a soft drink. The after-paddle party gets kicked-off at 5:30 p.m. and wraps up at 8:30 p.m. and includes a brief speaking engagement from Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.
For those who wish to enjoy the evening without having paddled the river, tickets for the after-paddle party will be available to the general public for $5.
To continue its celebration of Columbus, the Georgia Conservancy is honoring civic leadership from the city with its Distinguished Conservationist award at ecoBenefete, the Conservancy’s annual gala, on September 26th for their vision of a city that embraces its natural amenities.
To register for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle, please visit: www.georgiaconservancy.org/thegrand
Presenting sponsors for The Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle are PricewaterhouseCoopers and TSYS.
Brian Foster is Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy. Founded in 1967, the Georgia Conservancy is a statewide, environmental nonprofit whose mission is to protect Georgia’s land and water through its programmatic work in sustainable growth planning; advocacy and outreach; coastal initiatives; outdoor stewardship and exploration; and public and private land conservation.