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The for White Water Rafting in the Smokies generally runs from late February through November. All trips take place on the Pigeon River, located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. The Pigeon River is not a free flowing river, and a dam regulates the amount of water flowing down the river. During the summer (from Memorial Day to Labor Day), the river flow is consistent and white water rafting operators schedule their trips accordingly. However, the availability of trips in spring and fall is based on local rainfall. Two major companies, Smoky Mountain Outdoors and Rafting in the Smokies, have offices located in the Gatlinburg area. Trips for both companies depart from their outposts in Hartford, about 30 miles for Gatlinburg. All the white water rafting trips take place rain or shine, and reservations are recommended.
Smoky Mountain Outdoors schedules white water rafting trips in the summer months on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday starting at 11 AM with trips departing every 30 minutes until 5 PM. Since the spring and fall trips are dependent upon the rainfall, guests should contact Smoky Mountain Outdoors for up to date information. Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers three white water rafting trips: upper river, lower river and a combination of both. The upper Pigeon River trip provides a 6.5 mile wild ride consisting of 70 rapids ranging from level 1 to 4. The two hour trip offers plenty of big waves and drops. The lower Pigeon River trip features a 5.5 mile trip through 50 class 1 and 2 rapids, and one class 3 rapid. This is a mild trip and perfect for families with children. The combo trip provides a full 12 miles of adventure on both the upper and lower Pigeon River, with a short break after the upper section.
Rafting in the Smokies also schedules white water rafting trips in the summer on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM, with spring/fall trips based on availability. The summer trips on the upper river run every 20 minutes, and the lower river trips run every hour. Rafting in the Smokies’ upper Pigeon River trip is a 5 mile adventure through class 3 and 4 rapids with nicknames such as Razor Blade and Lost Guide. The lower Pigeon River trip features the laid back portion of the river, with 6 miles of gentle waves.