RiverRocks rolls into action today with 76 activities (at last count) that celebrate the great outdoors.
Some of the events are intended for athletes at the top of their game, such as the Triple Crown of Bouldering for climbers, the Rock Creek StumpJump for distance runners and the Chattanooga Head Race for rowers.
But hard-core fitness isn't necessary for the majority of the events -- just an interest in learning a new skill. A series of stand-up paddleboard clinics, for instance, will teach the basics of this new water sport, and a guided Wild Cave Adventure is a safe way for would-be spelunkers to explore the inner confines of Raccoon Mountain Caverns.
Family adventures are also part of the package, as are art, music and dining options through next weekend.
The festival is bookended by plenty of eye-popping spectacle. Opening weekend includes hot-air balloon flights and tethered rides Saturday and Sunday, as well as a nighttime balloon glow Saturday at Coolidge Park.
Closing weekend, Oct. 8-9, features concerts and a 3D Projection Mapping light show that will change how you look at the Hunter Museum of American Art, at least temporarily.
To further enhance the fun, festival organizers tout other weekend events that add to the downtown dynamic. These include the 3 Sisters bluegrass festival at Ross's Landing, Wine Over Water on the Walnut Street Bridge, a Culture Fest celebration at Chattanooga Market and the Tennessee River Rescue.
See the schedule of RiverRocks events below. Register for events at www.riverrockschattanooga.com.
- Screech owls and other native wildlife, 1-2 p.m. Saturday, Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center, 400 Garden Road; free with regular admission.
- Birds of prey and other native wildlife, 2-2:30 p.m. Sunday, Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center; free with regular admission.
- Sculpture burn, a wooden structure gracefully built over several days then set ablaze by artist Andrew Nigh on east side of Coolidge Park, 9:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 8.
- The Art Bike Brigade, a showcase of artistic creations powered by human locomotion, with prizes for best costumes and themes; 1-5 p.m. Oct. 9, Tennessee Aquarium; registration required.
- Wild Cave Adventure, 12:30-3 p.m. Oct. 8, Raccoon Mountain Caverns, 319 W. Hills Road, Lookout Valley; $28 Tennessee Aquarium member, $33 nonmember.
- Coolidge Park Climbing Wall, 10 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and Oct. 8-9. Half of climbing fee goes to RiverRocks.
- BouldeRave cosmic climbing party, with raffle benefiting the Trust for Public Land, 5-10 p.m. Oct. 7, Urban Rocks Gym; free.
- Triple Crown of Bouldering, first phase of three-part world-class bouldering competition, 8 a.m. Oct. 8, Stone Fort boulder field on Mowbray Mountain.
- Sequatchie Valley Century, routes of 100, 62 or 25 miles, 9 a.m. CDT Saturday, Sequatchie Valley High School, Dunlap, Tenn.
- Test rides on specialized mountain and road bikes from Cycle Sport Concepts Tennessee (bring a helmet), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Laurel Point Picnic Area at Raccoon Mountain; with U.S. National XC Mountain bike champion Todd Wells.
- Bike to Farm Tour, to see where local produce is grown, 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday, from St. Elmo Bi-Lo, 3801 Tennessee Ave., to Rossville and back; free but reservations required, 504-6573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Five Points Mountain Bike Ride, a sneak peek at the new trailhead off Lula Lake Road, 4-6 p.m. Thursday.
- Table 2, 232 E. 11th St., donating 50 percent of sales of the daily special, Cloudcrest Farms Pork Belly & Grits, today.
- Mount Vernon, 3535 Broad St., will donate 10 percent to carb loaders who dine on fresh fettuccini, today-Oct. 9.
- Lupi's Pizza Pies (downtown, Hixson, East Brainerd and Cleveland locations) donating 10 percent from purchase of daily specials, Saturday.
- 212 Market, 212 Market St., offering regular assortment of locally produced foods, Saturday.
- Oktoberfest Beer Tasting and Dinner, for adults only, at Big River Grille, 5-8:30 p.m. Tuesday; $35 Tennessee Aquarium or Big River passport members, $45 nonmembers; registration required.
- Main Street Farmers Market, 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Main Street at Williams Street.
- Pedal for Pints, bike (or walk) to Niko's, 1400 Cowart St., for food and drink specials, including $2.50 pints of Chattanooga Brewing Co. beer, plus chance to win commuter bicycle from Cycle Sports Concepts, 4-11 p.m. Thursday (and every Thursday night through Nov. 10).
- Eco Village Expo, vendors showcasing green, outdoor adventure and healthy-living products and ideas, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 8.
- Coke rain barrels, learn how to convert empty Coke barrel into water-conserving rain barrel, 1-2 p.m. Oct. 8; $10.
- Greenhouse tour with native plant specialist, 2-3 p.m. Oct. 9, Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center; free with paid admission; registration required.
- Lookout Mountain Bluff Trail, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday; $3 Point Park entrance fee; registration required.
- Moccasin Bend, designed for history buffs, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday; registration required.
- Lula Lake, four miles around the lake, 1-4 p.m. Sunday; leashed pets welcome; registration required.
- Hike the Icon, an easy six miles atop Lookout Mountain, 9 a.m.-noon Monday, from John Wilson Park; registration required.
- Mullen's Cove Loop Trail, a 10-mile hike from Snoopers Rock to the Indian Rock House, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, Prentice Cooper State Forest; registration required.
- South Chickamauga Creek, an easy 1.5 miles through the newest section of the greenway, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday.
- Pot Point, 3.5-mile hike at 10 a.m. followed by lunch, history stroll at 2 p.m., night hike at 6 p.m., preceded by light dinner at 5 p.m.; part of Tennessee River Gorge Trust's open house at Pot Point Cabin, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday; reservations requested.
- Possum Gorge, strenuous 4.2-mile hike on Cumberland Trail, 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday; registration required.
- Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center, easy hike on maintained trails, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday; registration required.
- Enterprise South, easy, 6.5-mile hike in nature park bordering industrial site, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday; registration required.
- Snoopers Rock Sunset Hike, easy, 3.4-mile hike on Raccoon Mountain, 4:15-7:15 p.m. Thursday; registration required.
- Greenway Farms, easy hike within 220-acre urban park, 8:30-noon Oct. 7; registration required.
- Boy Scout Trail, moderately difficult, 1.3-mile hike through section of Greenway Farms, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 7; registration required.
- Five Points Trail Complex, on-your-own exploration at grand opening of new complex of trails at Lula Lake on Lookout Mountain, 1-5 p.m. Oct. 7; includes food and music.
- Signal Mountain/Shackleford Ridge, an 8.8-mile woodland walk rated moderate to strenuous, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 8; registration required.
- Moccasin Bend, easy hike tracing route of the Cracker Line and Trail of Tears, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 8; registration required.
- Hiketoberfest, Friends of the Cumberland Trail's family-friendly festival on Signal Mountain includes team hiking, nature hikes and talks by naturalists, with music and folklore, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 9; $12 adults, free for kids under 12.
- Stringer's Ridge, moderate, 3-mile hike on the recently acquired hilltop property between Chattanooga and Red Bank, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 9; registration required.
- Nickajack Road to High Point Ridge, the highest point on Lookout Mountain, led by experienced guides (bring your own horse and rope), 1-5 p.m. Wednesday.
- Flights, one hour in the wild blue yonder, with return ground transportation, 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting; $250; reservations required.
- Tethered flights, for bird's-eye view of downtown from Coolidge Park, 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. $5 (free for kids under 10 with paying adult).
- Balloon glow, in Coolidge Park, 6 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting.
- Ranger Rick's Big Backyard Cleanup, a family version of the Tennessee River Rescue to learn good downriver practices, featuring Earth-friendly games and live critters, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, white tent outside Tennessee Aquarium; free; registration required.
- Family Nature Games, playtime that teaches such nature concepts as camouflage, population dynamics and echolocation, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, members entrance of Tennessee Aquarium; $5 members, $10 nonmembers (free for parents); registration required.
- Trekking With Tykes Backyard Safari, a naturalist-led adventure through Patten Park on Signal Mountain, 2-4 p.m. Sunday; limited to first six families due to parking constraints; free to Tennessee Aquarium members, $5 nonmembers; registration required.
- Learn to juggle, with Randy Whorton at Coolidge Park stage, bring three tennis balls, Oct. 8.
- 3D Projection Mapping, a technological marvel using the Hunter Museum as the backdrop, 9-9:30 p.m. Oct. 7.
- Southeast Wilderness Medical Conference, hands-on training in patient care in the wild, 7 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Oct. 7-8; registration required.
- Dr. Luanne Freer, program by founder of the Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic, 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Chattanooga Convention Center; $10 donation to Everest ER.
- Crash Pad party, an introduction to newest hostel for outdoor lovers, with music by Digital Butter, 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday; $5 cover; ages 21 and older, ID required.
- Michael Kaeshammer, concert by Canadian boogie-woogie pianist/singer and his band, 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 7, stage at Riverfront Parkway and Second Avenue.
- Coolidge Park concerts, by CSO Wind Quintet, 11 a.m.; Dan Landrum and Stephen Humphries, 12:05 p.m.; New Binkley Brothers, 1 p.m.; Chattanooga Theatre Centre's "Dark of the Moon" excerpt, 2:15 p.m.; Kofi Mawuko, 3:05 p.m.; The New Empires, 4:10 p.m.; Michelle Young & Pontiac Blue, 5:15 p.m. Angel Snow, 6:15 p.m. Oct. 8.
- The Jayhawks, concert by the seminal band starting tour in support of new CD, 8-9:30 p.m. Oct. 8, Coolidge Park.
- Psych Factory, community dance party for 21-and-older crowd with local and LA DJs at The Crash Pad, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Oct. 8; $5 cover; ID required.
- Traditional Music Gathering & Competition, with hands-on instruction, displays and demonstrations, noon-6 p.m. Oct. 9, Tennessee Aquarium.
- Wave riding clinic with Tim Inskeep of Maui Surf Clinics teaches how to ride the waves like a pro on your paddleboard or a loaner, 12:30-1 p.m. Saturday; registration required.
- SUPSplash Paddleboard Race, a Southeast regional championship for the sport's top surfers, with $12,000 purse, 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Ross's Landing; must register to participate.
- SUP clinic with Candice Appleby, professional stand-up paddle surfer, 1-2 p.m. Sunday; $85; registration required.
- SUP clinic with Brenda Lowe, founder of Paddleboard Miami and "Survivor: Nicaragua" contestant, 2-4 p.m. Sunday, $50; registration required.
- SUPilates workshop, to teach paddling and/or fitness professionals how to teach Pilates classes on the stand-up paddleboard, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; $350; registration required.
- SUP clinic with Shane Webb of SUP Paddleboard of St. Pete Beach, Fla., 1-2 p.m. today, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-noon and 4-5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
- Paddle Like a Girl, clinic on best techniques for women with Karen Mirlenbrink, 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
- Canoe/kayak races, for competitors ranging from elite racers to casual paddlers for $2,500 purse, 9 a.m. Saturday, Ross's Landing; must register to participate.
- Guided canoe trip, to see flora and fauna around Lookout Creek, 1-3:30 p.m. Oct. 8, Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center; $15 adults, $7 children 4-11, $3 children 3 and younger; registration required.
- Chattanooga Head Race, with 1,200 rowers from crews, clubs and schools around the Southeast competing, 9 a.m. Oct. 8, Ross's Landing; must register by Sunday to participate.
- Snail Darter 1-Mile Sprint, a 1-mile swim from Coolidge Park to tip of Maclellan Island and Olgiati Bridge, 5:15 p.m. Wednesday; $10; registration required.
- Swim the Suck 10-Mile, hosted by Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers, with jump-in at Baylor School, 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8; registration required.
- Rock Creek StumpJump, a 50K and 11-mile trail race over rough terrain expected to draw 800-plus runners, 8 a.m. Saturday, Prentice Cooper State Forest; registration closed.
- Race Through History, Chattanooga History Center's 5K course through downtown with stops along the way to complete tasks to learn area history, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday; $60 per four-person team; registration required.
- Baylor School Family Fun Trail Run, a 5K and 1-mile run that loops through the campus, 2-3 p.m. Sunday; registration required.
- Stringer's Ridge Urban 10K, road and trail runs, 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 8; registration required.
- Tai-ji, free classes in this art and exercise form, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday and Oct. 9, Renaissance Park.
- Waconda Bay SUP Yoga, paddleboard yoga sessions, 6-7 p.m. Tuesday and 3-4 p.m. Oct. 7.