A River Runs Through It 5

It’s a Family Tradition With Wildwater Zipline Canopy Tours

While exploring the quiet backcountry of upstate South Carolina in 1970, where a slow-rolling tractor loaded down with apples was the main sighting along lonely Highway 76, Jim and Jeanette Greiner found the place they were looking for. But they had no idea they would also launch a vacation family tradition in the southeast that now boasts over half a million participants annually on over a dozen popular whitewater rafting rivers, generating hundreds of millions in tourism dollars to area communities.

After numerous years of traveling and camping across the Blue Ridge and Appalachians, the Greiners had an idea that they could start a whitewater rafting business in the Carolinas, much like a rafting pioneer they befriended in West Virginia. Simultaneously, Greiner was curious about a James Dickey book, the subject of which was a canoeing adventure gone wrong. That story led them to Longcreek, South Carolina, home to the Chattooga River. Coming across a film crew along the banks of the river confirmed his suspicions. Deliverance was becoming a movie, and this was the river he wanted to explore.

They took a trip that would change Greiner’s life and the future of whitewater rafting in the southeast. In 1971, the Greiners opened the first commercial whitewater rafting company in the Carolinas and offered guided trips on the Chattooga River just as the movie Deliverance hit theaters.

Flash forward 46 years, and while a lot has changed, much has remained the same. Although Jim and Jeanette recently retired, the second and third generations of the Greiner family continue the tradition with six family members (children, spouses, and grandchildren) running the business, and all four children still deeply embedded in the efforts to maintain the original vision of an adventure experience with an emphasis on family and quality service.

Due to the efforts of many, including the Greiners, the Chattooga River was the first river to be added to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which assured broad protections along the river, its watershed and corridors for generations to come. Although the designation included drastic restrictions on river use and rafting growth, the Greiners were in full support of the measure to assure nothing would change along the river they love so much.

As the interest in whitewater rafting grew, so did the realization that this region of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, northeastern Georgia, and upstate South Carolina offered some of the best whitewater rafting in the country. Wildwater has expanded into a full adventure resort-style outfitter on four area rivers and includes rafting, unique yurt and cabin lodging, zipline canopy tours, scenic Jeep tours, kayaking, standup paddle boarding, aerial adventure parks, team building and biking. Along with locations on the Chattooga River, Nantahala River, Pigeon River, and Ocoee River, Wildwater offers adventure activities in Asheville.

Wildwater Rafting & Zipline Adventures | 866-699-2406 | WildwaterAsheville.com