In the early 1970s, the CHATTOOGA RIVER was officially dubbed one of the nations first Wild and Scenic Rivers. That remains an apt description for the river, which rises in North Carolina before forming the northernmost part of the Georgia and South Carolina border. Its awe-inspiring rapids (which non-experts should only attempt on trips led by highly qualified guides) cut a gorgeous gorge through verdant, unspoiled mountains. There are only a couple of road crossings and no buildings along the Wild and Scenic stretches: Section 3, which intersperses steep drops with scenic pools, and Section 4, where the rapids get steeper and more frequent. To really escape from civilization, set aside a whole weekend for an overnight trip on both sections.
Nantahala Outdoor Center, 888-905-7238, www.noc.com; Wildwater Limited, 800-451-9972, www.wildwaterrafting.com.