My first white water rafting experience was in college. I befriended a raft guide, and before I knew it I was headed down the rambling rapids of the Chattooga River in Northern Georgia. I had no idea how much fun it would be to experience Southern Appalachia from the river wild. Not only did I feel one with the water, every rapid, bump, movement drawing me closer to the mountain, but I got see the thick Appalachian forests from a whole new vantage point. Plus we had an awesome guide that new a wealth of information about the river, as well as the surrounding mountains, and wildlife.
Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains region can experience this same wonder and thrill on the Big Pigeon River located near Gatlinburg. This river flows along the eastern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where you can experience nature on a whole new level. The Big Pigeon features class II-IV rapids. Damn controlled water release ensures white water rapid action Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday throughout the summer months.
Nothing compares to the thrill of not knowing what lies just around the next river bend, the splash of water in your face, the experience of riding down the river as explorers once did as they discovered new lands.
The Gatlinburg area has numerous white water rafting options. Take your pick. Whether you are looking for a leisurely roll down the river or a ride to remember, there is something for everyone.
Go On a Wild River Ride
Rip Roaring Adventures
One of the newer rafting companies on the block Rip Roaring Adventures offers two types of trips: a leisurely ride and a thrill seeking adventure.
- The lower river trip with class I and class II rapids is suitable for kids as young as three years old. This scenic ride is perfect for younger families and guests that are looking for a more relaxed ride.
- For the adrenaline junkies in your group they offer an upper river trips that tackle class III and IV rapids.
This company also advertises the lowest prices in the region and you can find a coupon on their website. For more information visit: http://raftingtennessee.com
Big Creek Expeditions
This rafting company located right on the North Carolina, Tennessee border was opened in 2004. It was started by a Knoxville architect that had passion for white water rafting and decided to open his own adventure outfitter. With some of the best professional guides around Big Creek Expeditions guarantees lots of laughs and maybe a splash at the end. Big Creek Expeditions features:
- Upper and lower river trips with options for relaxing and more adrenaline packed trips.
- They also offer adventure packages with raft/camp combinations as well as raft/zipline adventures.
For more information visit: http://www.bigcreekexpeditions.com/
Rapid Expeditions has strong ties to Gatlinburg. Their owner, Dave Crawford, is also the head of the ski patrol at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort. This all-around outdoors-man opened Rapid Expeditions because he wanted to share his love the outdoors with visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain region. This outfitter also boasts prime real-estate. Their location right on the Pigeon has a strategic advantage as guests can put their raft just steps from where they park by the Big Pigeon River, without an extra bus ride. Rapid Expeditions proudly advertises:
- A naturalistic whitewater experience where guides take the time to stop and explain natural scenery and water ways as well as letting guests take a dip if they so choose.
- Rapid Expeditions also features a new sales office in Located in downtown Gatlinburg at traffic light #9.
For more information visit: http://www.rapidexpeditions.com/
Smoky Mountain Outdoors
Smoky Mountain Outdoor offers:
- Guided whitewater and kayak trips on the upper and lower Big Pigeon River and,
- Private kayaking lessons for individuals at all skill levels.
They have been operating for fifteen years and live by the motto : “We set the bar for service, safety, and FUN!” Smoky Mountains Outdoors also leads inflatable Kayak trips, and hike& Paddle adventures. So there is truly something for everyone. For more information visit http://www.smokymountainrafting.com/
Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)
The Nanahatla Outdoor Center has a widespread reputation as one of the best outdoor adventure groups in the Appalachian Mountains. They have been leading white water rafting trips and outdoor adventures since 1972.
Their Pigeon River outpost is one of the most popular spots offering one of the most condensed and fun filled white water rides in the area. This 2 and half hour trip, a five mile ride down the river, starts with a rapid named Powerhouse and continues through a scenic journey onto some even nastier rapids called “Lost Guide,” and “The Accelerator.”
The NOC Pigeon River Outpost is also a favorite for its hot showers, picnic pavilion, store and they offer digital slideshow of your white water adventure for purchase. For more information visit: http://www.noc.com/whitewater-rafting/pigeon-river/