Chattooga River Watershed
The National Wild and Scenic River is a special designation for certain protected rivers in the United States. Known as the “Crown Jewel” of the Southeast, the Chattooga was the first river east of the Mississippi to be granted the Wild & Scenic designation. Since 1974, the Chattooga River has been protected along a 15,432-acre corridor as a National Wild and Scenic River. 39.8 miles of the river have been designated “wild”, about 2.5 miles “scenic”, and 14.6 miles “recreational” for a total of about 57 miles.
The Chattooga River originates in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina at the base of Whiteside Mountain, a massive 4,800-foot granite monolith on the escarpment known to the Cherokee as the“Great Blue Wall.” It is one of seven rivers that flow from the Blue Ridge Escarpment, an area marked by high rainfall and unusual biological diversity. The terrain is abrupt and deeply dissected with many spectacular gorges.
From its source at the headwaters at an elevation of 3,360 feet until it flows into Tugaloo Lake, the Chattooga River descends 2,469 feet in elevation, making it one of the best whitewater recreational rivers in the eastern United States. It was because of these and other unique values that the Chattooga River was chosen by Congress as one of the 27 rivers to be studied for possible inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
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