“You know my dad used to take me huntin’ all the time and you’d sit there on a squirrel tree and maybe you’d see a couple squirrel,” he says. “But when you put your head in the water here you’re just surrounded by life. Just bring your mask and snorkel …man you’ll be surprised at what you see so take full advantage of it.”

The waters in the Cherokee National Forest can be a bit chilly. From May through September, snorkelers and swimmers should be comfortable in traditional swimming attire. You’ll find a variety of fish, turtle and salamander in their natural habitat along this stretch of Conasauga State Scenic River.

“At this time of year you can get in without a wet suit and be comfortable. You get to see the fishes behavior, the big red horses, the suckers and drum. There’s a lot of neat fish in here. Probably seven or eight different types of darter.”

In these waters, there are more than 70 species of fish. This location is actually the most diverse river basin in the entire world. A lot of that has to do with the fact that these waters are so clean and clear.

“It’s mostly that it’s silt-free. There’s not a lot of development around here or fields being plowed or excessive roads. It’s forested. It’s like a living filter. Any rain..it’s not washing in dirt or debris from human activity.”