A Guide to RiverRocks: Getting the Most out of the Chattanooga RiverRocks Festival

RiverRocks Hot Air Ballooning.
RiverRocks Hot Air Ballooning. Chattanooga Balloon Company.
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Chattanooga's month-long RiverRocks festival is filled with dozens of events spread out across the region, but they all stick to three main objectives: 1. Get Out, 2. Get Fit, and 3. Have Fun. The festival brings both amateur and world-class athletes to Chattanooga, but it’s not just about competition. You'll find plenty of opportunities to try new pursuits, enjoy great music, and take advantage of the city's incredible outdoor spaces. Whether you enjoy trail running, hiking, cycling, paddling, or climbing, you'll find many opportunities to participate throughout the month of October (the full calendar of events is here). Some of the festival highlights include:

Water

Chattanooga CVB

Swim the Suck, Oct. 8 This year marks the 7th Swim the Suck, a 10-mile, open-water swim through the Tennessee River Gorge. This swim has been a part of RiverRocks from the beginning, and it has grown into one of the most sought-after open-water swims in the world. This year’s event is sold out, but volunteer opportunities are still available. (Keep in mind that many of the RiverRocks events filled extremely fast every year. Register early to get a spot in next year’s festival.)

Chattajack 31, Oct. 22 Chattajack is a unique endurance kayak/paddleboard race featuring a 31-mile trip through the Tennessee River Gorge. Chattajack is now one of the largest paddling events in the country, and if you enjoy riding a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or canoe, this event is for you. It, too, is sold out for this year, but volunteer opportunities are available.

Climbing

Mark McKnight
Mark McKnight

Triple Crown of Bouldering, Oct. 21 This legendary climbing competition that takes place at Stone Fort (formerly known as Little Rock City) and is one of the reasons why Chattanooga has become one of the premier bouldering destinations in the country. You'll be able to see some of the best climbers in the country take on all kinds of boulders—or try some for yourself.

Running and Hiking

Mark McKnight
Mark McKnight

Rock/Creek Stump Jump 50K, Oct. 1 Come run the largest and most competitive 50K trail race in the Southeast. The Stump Jump takes place on the beautiful singletrack trails on Signal Mountain and Walden Ridge and features more than 4,400 feet of elevation gain. It is sold out, but there is a waiting list and opportunities to volunteer.

7 Bridges Marathon, Oct. 16 The 7 Bridges Marathon offers runners an excellent tour of the city as they cross the Tennessee River multiple times times during this popular race. Some points of interest include: the Tennessee Aquarium, AT&T Field, Creative Discovery Museum, the Riverwalk, Bluff View Arts District, Hunter Museum, and Historic Walnut Street Bridge before finishing in Coolidge Park.

Trailblaze Challenge, Oct. 22 The Trailblaze Challenge is a new event this year—a 26-mile hike, benefitting Make-A-Wish East Tennessee. The hike begins at the base of Cloudland Canyon and finishes atop Lookout Mountain at Lula Lake Land Trust. Come enjoy the beautiful fall foliage along some of the most beautiful trails in Georgia/Tennessee while helping to grant the wishes of local children with a life-threatening medical condition.

Biking

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett

The Lula Lake Land Trust 5 Points 50/25 is Chattanooga’s ultimate endurance mountain bike race. A 25-mile option is new this year, giving novice racers a taste of an endurance mountain bike experience. Post-race activities include camping, music, vendors, and food.

Music

3 Sisters Music Festival, Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 The free 3 Sisters Music Festival brings some fantastic bluegrass to Chattanooga. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the festival. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the river, the music, and the city. Some of this year's performers include: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, The Gibson Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, and Trout Steak Revival.

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