White Water Rafting in the Smokies

Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg Department of Tourism

Everywhere you look in the Gatlinburg area, you see advertisements for outdoor activities. The volume of choices and companies can be overwhelming. Well, we’ve combined what we’ve learned about white water rafting in the Smokies into one easy-to-use cheat-sheet! Here are some tips/facts about white water rafting in general. Afterward, read about four companies that offer trips, including costs, requirements and contact info.

Tips (Always check with the company you choose for specifics):

  • Wear a bathing suit, light shorts, t-shirt, old tennis shoes or water shoes, a hat.
  • Make sure to wear a high SPF sunscreen.
  • If you are bringing sunglasses, wear them on a strap.
  • Bring a change of clothes and a towel.
  • If you are rafting in the spring or fall, you may need warmer clothes.
  • Don’t bring jewelry or electronics.
  • Don’t wear jeans or sweatshirts (they will take too long to dry).
  • Don’t wear flip-flops. Shoes must have a heel strap.
  • Most sites offer group rates. Check if you have 8 or more.
  • Don’t forget to check your company’s cancellation policy!
  • Don’t take a camera, unless you have a waterproof disposable.
  • Most companies run in the rain or the sun. Don’t assume your trip is canceled due to weather.
  • Do not go white water rafting if you are pregnant!

And here are 4 rafting companies:

1. Big Creek Expeditions

  • Location: 3541 Hartford Rd., Hartford, TN (about a half hour from Gatlinburg); Pigeon River
  • Trips: Upper Pigeon (minimum age is 8); Lower Pigeon (minimum age is 3)
  • Cost: Upper — $29.95 (this represents a sale price available now); Lower — $26.95 (this represents a sale price available now)

2. Rafting in the Smokies

  • Location: 813 East Parkway, Gatlinburg (office); outpost — click here for directions; Pigeon River
  • Trips: Upper Pigeon (minimum age is 8; trip is 1 1/2 hours); Lower Pigeon (minimum age is 3; trip is 2 hours)
  • Cost: Upper — $39; Lower — $35

3. White Water Rafting

  • Location: 453 Brookside Village Way, Gatlinburg
  • Trips: Upper Pigeon (minimum age is 8; 2 hours); Lower Pigeon (minimum age is 3); Pack and Paddle (2 hour hike followed by rafting, minimum age is 8 )
  • Cost: Upper — $39.99 for adults, $27.99 for kids 8-12 years; Lower — $29.99 for adults; $27.99 for kids 8-12 years; Pack and Paddle — $59.99 for adults; $54.99 for kids 8-12 years
  • CC REALLY LIKES 8) : The neat diagram of the river trip — click here to view

4. NOC

  • Location: 1138 Parkway, Gatlinburg
  • Trips: NOC offers trips on several rivers, but the ones closest to Gatlinburg are: Pigeon River (close by), Nantahala River (about an hour away), French Broad River (about an hour and a half). Actual trips are: Pigeon River Upper (minimum age 8); Pigeon River Lower (minimum age 3); French Broad River Family Friendly Adventure (minimum age 8); Nantahala River Family Friendly Adventure (minimum age 7)
  • Cost: Nantahala half day fully guided — $46; Nantahala half day guide assisted — $37; French Broad half day — $46; French Broad half day deluxe (includes a picnic lunch) — $56; French Broad full day — $79; Pigeon Upper — $40; Pigeon Lower — $29, $19 for kids 3-7 years
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