We are often asked by our guests about what types of family fun activities are there to do in the Gatlinburg area. One of the more common questions is about Gatlinburg white water rafting and where you can do it. I will break it all down for you below so that you get that white knuckle experience you are longing for during your vacation in the Smokies.
Gatlinburg is a really great place to do some white water rafting. All of our rental cabins are 20 to 30 minutes away from all of these attractions, which is a huge plus! No experience is necessary for most of these rafting trips, which means family fun for everyone. The local guides will set up your gear for you and keep you safe during your journey down the river. Whether you are an experienced rafter, or a first-timer you will find your thrills in Gatlinburg. There are several rivers with class III and IV rapids just minutes away that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping! I will list a few of the companies in the area that offer white water rafting tours and you can decide which one fits you best.
Rafting Outdoor Adventures
Rafting Outdoor Adventures is located about a half hour drive east from downtown Gatlinburg. Two of the Gatlinburg white water rafting trips they offer are the Upper Pigeon River and the Lower Pigeon River trips. I will detail them below.
The Upper Pigeon River trip is an exhilarating 2 hour white water rafting experience. You will experience intense class III and IV rapids which sends your heart racing. This rafting adventure is for all people ages 8 and up, and there is no experience necessary. Your guide will assist you throughout your journey and answer any questions you may have during your trip.
The Lower Pigeon River trip is geared more toward younger children and does not take your through those gnarly fast paced rapids. The Lower Pigeon trip is a relaxing 2 hour float trip with predominately calm water throughout. This is perfect for non-swimmers and most children ages 3 and up. You will be introduced to beginner-level class I, II, and III rapids. Safety is the number one goal. Along the way you will have multiple chances to swim in calm, flat water. Personal flotation devices will be provided and you do not need to know how to swim to participate.
Wildwater Rafting is a larger company with rafting operations in multiple states. They are also located about 25 miles from Gatlinburg in Hartford, TN. Offered are two rafting trips on the Upper Pigeon River and the Lower Pigeon River. As mentioned above, the lower Pigeon river trip is the more gentle adventure of the two offered. The Upper Pigeon River trip is where you will find your class III and IV rapids. Some of these rapids have names such as Double Reactionary, Roller Coaster, and Big Rock!
A canopy tour and zip-line that traverses the Big Pigeon River is an another activity you can do while visiting Whitewater Rafting. They offer two zip-line options, with one going across the river and another traveling through the forest treetops.
Jeep Tours are also available if that is your thing. You can take a ride and explore wildlife, back-roads, and historic sites from the comfort of a Jeep.
Rip Roaring Adventures
Rip Roaring Adventures has been in business for over 20 years. They are also located about a half hour east of Gatlinburg. They offer the same types of Gatlinburg white water rafting trips as the other companies above. They have a shower and a changing facility available on site. For the people in your group who may just want to watch the action, they have a picnic area and a fire-pit to sit around and relax.
Be sure to leave the flip-flops at home. Secure footwear is required for any of the rafting adventures. Wet-suit rentals are also available on-site.
Smoky Mountain Outdoors
Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers all of the same types of rafting trips as other companies in the area. They also have a couple of different options the others do not offer.
Extreme Upper River Rafting is a high intensity Gatlinburg white water rafting adventure. It is available to anyone ages 12 and up. Previous rafting experience is highly recommended for this trip. Each 4-person raft will experience intense rapids, hydraulics, and big waves. If you want to take yourself to the limit check out this one out!
Inflatable Kayaking is a different type of activity also offered on the Lower Pigeon River. All of the trips are guided, and everyone has their own kayak. Anyone participating must be at least 12 years old, and the ability to swim is required. Inflatable Kayaks are designed for the inexperienced or experienced alike. You will learn how to enter and exit rapids, surfing, spinning, and sliding in your kayak.
This list is not a full list of white water rafting companies in Gatlinburg, but hopefully it will give you a starting point. Be sure to read online reviews about the company you choose to take you on your adventures. Online reviews are the best way to evaluate the level of service each company provides their clients.