It’s time to get out and enjoy the river—safely. Sometimes a day of paddling, tubing, or wading in the Chattahoochee River doesn’t end well. Here are a few reminders for how to recreate responsibly. (Please pass these on, especially to the riskier groups who tend to get into trouble. Hint--that would be younger males.)
Wear a PFD--A U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is Required To Be Worn if you are boating, tube floating, or wading in river areas between
On all other river sections in the park, you must have a wearable PFD on board all watercraft, including float tubes and air mattresses for each person. All children under the age of 13 MUST WEAR a PFD when a watercraft is underway.
Cold water, time, and swimming ability--Water released into the Chattahoochee River comes from the bottom of Lake Lanier at approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That is COLD! Water this cold can be dangerous, causing shock and hypothermia. Don’t overestimate your swimming ability or underestimate the danger this cold water presents to even the strongest swimmers. You don’t have much time before hypothermia sets in.
Water quality and quantity—The water quality and flow rate of the Chattahoochee River fluctuate. The water quality is generally good except after a heavy rain. Visit the BacteriAlert website to find out how safe it is to be in the river. Water levels on the Chattahoochee River are influenced on a daily basis by weather and water releases from Buford Dam and Morgan Falls Dam. Before launching your boat or tube, check the flow rate and you'll learn what to expect, like how long the ride should take or if you will be bumping over rocks or in a flood. Check the River Flow Rate here. You may also access the Buford Dam water release schedule by calling 770-945-1466, or toll free 1-855-DAM-FLOW (1-855-326-3569), or visit their Hydropower Generating Schedule website. For the Morgan Falls Dam water release schedule visit Georgia Power's Chattahoochee Hydro Real-Time Operations website.
Additional information specific to safety and current conditions in the CRNRA may be found at Safety - Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) and Current Conditions - Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov). For more general information on water safety, check out the How to Recreate Responsibly Water Safety Edition at Water Safety Edition | #RecreateResponsibly
As a final reminder for Water Safety Month, we suggest not diving or jumping into the river, for many obvious reasons. And to enjoy the entire day, remember your sunscreen, keys, and that cell phones don’t float, even if they are waterproof.