Ask someone what the most famous river in Georgia is, and they’ll likely say the Chattooga River. Why? Because Deliverance was filmed there. Even though the fictional river in the film is called the Cahulawassee River, everyone knows it’s the Chattooga. Maybe infamy isn’t the best reason to recognize a river, but that very infamy, some argue, is what lead to its designation as a wild and scenic river. It didn’t hurt that President Carter pushed for designation.
But Georgia’s rivers aren’t just about whitewater and the hill country. The state offers highly productive estuaries, slow meandering streams, quiet fishing holes, and mysterious swamps where river currents are barely perceptible. Whatever river experience you want, it’s likely Georgia offers it. Unfortunately, this wealth of rivers hasn’t lead to recognition and protection through the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system; Georgia has approximately 69,547 miles of river, of which only 49.2 miles of the Chattooga River are designated as wild and scenic—approximately 7/100ths of 1% of the state’s river miles.