For the most exciting white water rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains, visitors need to look no further than the Pigeon River just outside of Gatlinburg. The Pigeon River runs from North Carolina to Tennessee and features class 3 to 4 rapids, guaranteeing an exciting adventure! Several companies in the Gatlinburg area offer guided trips down the river from early March to November, including Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Rafting in the Smokies and Big Creek Expeditions. All trips run rain or shine, since rafters will be getting wet anyway! All guests on white water rafting excursions should wear tennis shoes or water shoes secured to the feet, shorts and a t-shirt or bathing suit.
Smoky Mountain Outdoors has been leading white water rafting trips for over 15 years and operates out of Hartford, TN (approximately 24 miles from Gatlinburg). Smoky Mountain Outdoors runs rafting trips on both the upper and lower Pigeon River. The upper Pigeon River ride is an adventurous 6.5 mile raft ride through the heart of the Smoky Mountains in class 3 and 4 rapids. The lower Pigeon River ride is a tamer 5.5 mile trip through the Pigeon River gorge and is perfect for families with children.
Rafting in the Smokies is the oldest rafting company in the region and is also located in Hartford, TN. Rafting in the Smokies’ upper Pigeon River trip includes five thrilling miles in class 3 and 4 rapids with nicknames such as Razor Blade, After Shave and Too Late! The lower Pigeon River trip is a leisurely float ride through class 1 and 2 rapids, with one class 3 rapids section at the end.
Big Creek Expeditions, another Hartford based rafting company, provides 6 mile trips along the upper Pigeon River. These 6 mile trips commence at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, and work their way through class 3 and 4 rapids between the mountains of Cherokee National Forest. Big Creek Expeditions’ lower Pigeon River trips begin at a section where the river calms. This section is ideal for scenic 5.5 mile raft trips, and is a great introduction to white water rafting.