Summers in Tennessee can be oppressive, but fortunately there are plenty of ways to cool down. One of the most popular water activities in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area is white water rafting at the Class III and IV rapids in the Pigeon River. Read on to see our recommendations for the best rafting spots in the region. 

Where to Get the Best Smoky Mountain White Water Rafting Experience

Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Located in Hartford, Tennessee, Smoky Mountain Outdoors guarantees you one of the best white water rafting experiences. This location prides itself in over eight decades of providing a fun-filled, safe experience to rafters. Both beginners and veteran rafters are accompanied by seasoned experts to ensure maximum security while on the rapids. 

Rafting in the Smokies

This location offers visitors two different rafting trips paired with a rope challenge course and zipline adventure. This location gives you a great view of the Great Smoky Mountains. The certified and trained guides will also accompany you through the 5-mile trip featuring 12 class III and three class IV rapids. You can also opt for the 6-mile Lower Family Float Section featuring class I and II rapids. 


Located at 1138 Parkway Gatlinburg, Nantahala Outdoor Center provides visitors with a memorable rafting experience. The center offers white water rafting tours on multiple Southeastern Rivers.

Big Creek Expeditions

Big Creek Expeditions is located at 3541 Hartford Road. Paired with experienced guides and rafters, you can experience the 10 class II rapids and three class IV rapids. Some of the famous rapids include the Lost Guide, Snapdragon, and Double-Reactionary. This location guarantees guests a fun-filled experience that takes you through beautiful sceneries. Big Creek Expeditions is arguably one of the best places for people looking to enjoy the thrills of white water rafting.

Are There Age Restrictions for White Water Rafting?

To go white water rafting, you must be at least five years of age or older. It’s also advisable for children 5-12 years to start with Class I rapids and work their way up as they get older. However, most various rafting companies have specific guidelines regarding the minimum age for rafters. This could depend on the length and difficulty of the river and tour. 

When Is the Best Time to Go White Water Rafting?

The best time for white water rafting in Smoky Mountain is during the spring. This is because of the cooler temperatures that make white water rafting more enjoyable. Rafting during summer is a good way to cool off, but high humidity and more UV exposure could make it less enjoyable to be out for long periods of time.

Luxury Cabin Retreat near Smoky Mountains White Water Rafting Spots

Oak Haven Resort is the perfect place to stay for all types of outdoor activities near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, including white water rafting! We can accommodate the whole family with our large, multi-bedroom cabins. Plus, we have plenty of onsite amenities and activities for when you return from the river. Book your stay today! 

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