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The 3 Best Rivers for 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.


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.


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.