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The 3 Best Rivers for East Tennessee White Water Rafting

April 23rd, 2015 by Whitestone

east tennessee white water rafting



White water rafting enthusiasts are always looking for great rapids and an amazing adventure.  And when you think “white water rafting”, you may think the best places to catch a raft would be Colorado or Southern California. You might be surprised to learn that 3 of the top 4 places for white water rafting in the United States are located right in East Tennessee. East Tennessee white water rafting is full of great options for any type of adventure you are after.

east tennessee white water rafting

Ocooe River Rafting

The Ocoee River, located in Polk County, TN is ranked #1 by the American Outdoors Association as a destination for white water rafting in the United States. The Ocoee River was the home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Whitewater Games. To get in on the Olympic Course, you need to be sure to raft the Upper Course, or a combination of the Upper and Middle Courses, which takes about six hours. Beginners are totally welcome on the Middle Course, with guides offering instruction before heading out on the river. Ocoee River rafting is available Saturday through Monday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so be sure to plan ahead and book the experience you want with a great rafting company.

White Water Rafting on the Pigeon River

The Pigeon River is ranked #3 by the AOA and is located in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of the Great Smoky Mountains in East TN. Offering both a lower and an upper course, the Little Pigeon River white water rafting experience truly has something for everyone. The lower course is designated as a “float trip” with both easy rapids and in-water experiences, great for children ages 3 and up. The upper course is designated as an intermediate course, and takes about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Nantahala River Rafting

Coming in at #4 by the American Outdoor Association, you’ll find the Nantahala River. Just over the border from Tennessee this river experience is near Bryson City, North Carolina. The Nantahala river rafting isn’t the only thing you’ll find when you arrive at the meeting of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River. The Nantahala Outdoor Center opened in 1972 and has grown to one of the largest outdoor companies in the country.

3 Best Rivers for East Tennessee White Water Rafting

The Full Outdoor Experience

These three locations don’t just offer world class white water rafting experiences. You can have whole-day experiences including zip-lining, hiking, shopping, mountain biking and more. Some even offer great package prices – be sure to check on the specific river and with the specific company you are planning on using.

Each of these spectacular river rafting experiences is a great day trip from The Whitestone Country Inn. Each river is less than a three hour drive from the inn, meaning that not only can you experience world class rapids on a day trip, you could even plan a whole week of river-rafting adventures!

And after a day or two of rafting, nothing will help you stretch out and recuperate like a short walk up to see the Scottish Highland Cattle or down to the lake’s waterfront to see if you can spot the Bald Eagle. If your muscles are still feeling sore, you can schedule time in our relaxing spa for a wonderful massage, making sure that when you head home you are as good as new, if not better than when you arrived.

We look forward to hearing all about your East Tennessee white water rafting trip over a delicious Whitestone breakfast. Be sure to check out our availability and start planning your own adventure.

Photo by Torrey Wiley and Melissa Johnson.

Grief Recovery Retreat for Pastors at Whitestone

April 13th, 2015 by Whitestone



There will be a 4 day / 3 nights workshop and retreat at Whitestone for Pastor/Spouses who have lost a child, grandchild, or spouse on Sept. 21-24, 2015. Grief is an individual process but Spark of Life, a national grief recovery ministry has been helping folks find strength and comfort after the loss of a close loved one. This will be the first workshop we have hosted at Whitestone specifically for Pastors and their spouses. There are some scholarship funds available. Call Paul for specific information on the workshop 865.389.7182.  – Paul

Below is a story from David Matthews, the Founder of Spark of Life on their journey and the impact it has had on those it serves.


When I was 20 and contemplating entering the ministry as my profession, a trusted mentor warned me with these words: “David, many people assume that there are three sexes – female, male, and pastors. Be aware.”

At the time, I didn’t quite get it. However, I believe I bought into that for a while, trying to be a little non-human. But pastors, as most know, are human beings as well. We experience life with hurts, pain, weaknesses, sins, and loss as others do. We are not immune to this fallen world and all its pain.

The toughest time in my ministry was when our grandson died. We felt powerless to help anyone else. His death affected my counseling, and my emotions as I stood to preach every Sunday. I felt empty, alone, angry, and deeply confused, even more than normal!

And I was weary.

One day, I broke. I told the church what I thought, how angry I was with God, and how I had nothing left in the emotional tank. And I learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Grievers, even pastors, simply MUST give themselves permission to grieve.
  2. Deeply grieving does NOT mean one has a failing faith. This includes questioning God, and even disagreeing with God’s non-action to intervene and heal. I seem to remember Jesus asking the big ‘why’ question.
  3. Being honest with one’s feelings, frustrations, questions, etc. and sharing these in appropriate ways, even from the pulpit, is quite healthy – both for you and your hearers.
  4. It is OK for spiritual leaders to seek help when they are struggling with whatever. Even Jesus one day asked three friends to help him – “Keep watch while I pray” he pleaded with them.

Shortly after Josiah’s death, God led us to begin Spark of Life, a non-profit organization that offers three-day Grief Recovery Retreats which have a simple mission: “We exist to give hope to grievers, that though life can never be the same after devastating loss, life can be one day rich and fulfilling again.”

As of March 2015, we have conducted 44 retreats serving over 600 grievers. These retreats are open for any who have experienced loss. Many pastors and their spouses have attended, with many losing children, and others with various other losses. We have even had pastors attend who wanted to learn how to help grievers better.

People ask us often, “How do you do what you do, dealing with death all the time?” I usually answer that question with another question – “How could we not do what we do? We actually deal with Life all the time. In every retreat we lead, we see much more Life than we do death.”

You see, death cannot defeat true Life. I hate death. It pains me to see those I love, and even those I don’t know, experience deep grief and hurt and pain when they lose a loved one. I know you don’t like it either. But this I know – Life triumphs. The grave is empty. And therein lies hope; therein is the Spark of Life.


David Mathews
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Our Groceries are Shrinking!

April 13th, 2015 by Whitestone




value of whitestone innBeen to the grocery store lately? I noticed last night that my tuna recipe called for a 6-7 oz. can of tuna, and my can was only 5 oz.. I also noticed at breakfast today that apparently factories are hiring large people to sit on our cereal boxes, thus rendering them flatter and lighter than before. I even noted at lunch that the bottoms of my peanut butter and jam jars are distortedly concave so that they appear to hold 12 ounces, but actually hold 10. While costs have remained constant, our entire array of available food products seems to be shrinking to a size only appropriate for Munchkin City.

I find this whole scenario frightening. There seem to be no product manufacturers who have not jumped into this happy conga line of greed.  We’ve endured job loss, increases in health care costs, and new airline charges for carrying on a copy of War and Peace, and now our groceries have all shrunk? Soon I expect farmers try to talk God into shrinking our produce.


I think this situation has boosted my appreciation for Whitestone. In all the years I’ve been a guest, the quality and quantity of service, amenities, and surroundings have never been compromised. There is still a warm fire burning in the Farmhouse fireplace, and homemade cookies in the jar in the kitchen.

Meals are generous, and expertly prepared. Each room still has its own charming and colorful theme, and the thick towels are even folded artistically! The grounds are meticulously landscaped (and God still makes sunrises and sunsets over Watts Bar Lake breathtakingly beautiful). While I may be short on tuna and jam, Whitestone remains my one increasingly delightful investment.

by: Valerie Bryant Bennett

photo by: Matt MacGillivray

Spring Photo Contest

April 2nd, 2015 by Whitestone

Whitestone Getaway Giveaway Banner



— The contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated. We will be announcing the winners shortly! —

The flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, and leaves are beginning to show across the trees here at the Whitestone Inn. Spring is here!

To celebrate the changing of the seasons we are hosting a photo contest.

Share an original photo of the Spring season either past or present for your chance to win! 

Past or present Spring photos of Whitestone are great but definitely aren’t required. The contest ends May 15th and we will announce the winners shortly after!

This contest gives you 3 chances to getaway with the one you love to the Inn.

The Contest Prizes

  1. One Free Night at the Inn and Dinner for Two
  2. Dinner for Two at the Inn
  3. Two Hand Thrown Whitestone Coffee Mugs

How to Enter

  1. Enter the contest by submitting your original photo of Spring (can be anywhere). You can upload up to 3 photos for additional entries.
  2. That’s it. We’ll be announcing the winners the week of May 25th.

Private message us on Twitter or Facebook if you are having any issues entering or have any questions and we will be happy to guide you through it.

Like The Whitestone Country Inn on Facebook too.

A Few of the Amazing Submitted Photos

1 2014-Summer-flowers-008_crop 547297_10100363081034794_30309639_43264278_1089211544_n DSC_0360 DSC00593bf2 DSC05268 FB_IMG_1429643084677 FB_IMG_14296430265061 image15 image19 image27 image39 image41 IMG_4917 IMG_4934 IMG_6084 IMG_20150421_1337062 Life-in-the-Making

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Wedding at Whitestone Inn?

April 1st, 2015 by Whitestone




That question can be answered the same way you can answer “How much does a new home cost?” The cost of a wedding or a house depends on how big it is and what do you want in it.

Whitestone Country Inn can do an elopement package for $850!! And that’s not just a two minute ceremony – Minister “Do You?” Couple “We do.” Minister “Then you are!”

dress on east tennessee wedding chapel near knoxville tnOur elopement weddings include a very nice thoughtful ceremony, but it also includes an overnight stay in our AAA 4 diamond property, a romantic five course dinner, a small wedding cake, breakfast the next morning (brought to your luxurious room if you prefer), a boutonniere, a bride’s bouquet, and an on-site wedding assistant.

But what if you want to add: a professional photographer, videographer, carriage ride, 100 friends, fireworks, a hot air balloon ride, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla? These things cost more than $850!

The average wedding according to the KNOT in 2014 was $31,213. That includes the entire U.S. and is not typical for the Southeast or Whitestone. Although we did host a wedding for a NFL player and his wealthy bride (well – her father was wealthy) that was way above that national average!

So a wedding at Whitestone starts at $850 but goes up from there to lots more, depending on the bride and groom’s tastes.

Chapel-Interior-Wedding1You can save money getting married in the back yard by your cousin who was ordained online. If you carry a bouquet of chickweed (they are actually a nice yellow but be sure you’re not allergic) and the groom’s boutonniere is a dandelion you can save money. I love Little Debbie Snack Cakes and they are all inexpensive. Just go to your corner convenience store and you have choices for a wedding cake. If your taste’s run in this direction, call me and I have even more suggestions regarding the bride’s wedding dress that might be helpful and save money.

Brides pay for what is important to them. After over 1000 weddings at Whitestone, I’m sure they find funds for what they really care about. A wedding is one of the most important memorable days in a lifetime. Do what you can afford and include what is valuable to you.

How much will your wedding cost at Whitestone? It’s entirely up to you. By the way, the hot air balloon ride as an exit is expensive and very unpredictable as to where you land. I don’t think that’s a good omen as a way to start your marriage.

– Paul

outdoor tennessee wedding - Your Reflections KNoxville tn wedding photographer

Most photos by Your Reflections Wedding Photographer.

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