If you’re like me and love a good adrenaline rush, then I suggest shooting the rapids in the Smokies. Whitewater rafting in the Smoky Mountains are extremely popular in the mountains of Tennessee and no experience is necessary. The Upper Pigeon is a phenomenal river offering more than 10 Class III and a few Class IV rapids. Sound interesting? Then climb aboard. It’s going to be bumpy—and you will definitely get soaked on this ride in the Smoky Mountains.
Did you know that there are six distinct classifications of whitewater rapids? They range from mild to off-the-charts extreme. Each category represents the degree of difficulty, danger present and water level of the river. Many of the classifications listed below can be found in the Smoky Mountains.
Whitewater Rapids Classifications
- Class II: Water moves at a moderate pace with some ripples that cause waves. Rafters will encounter very few, if any, obstructions.
- Class II:Water flow is quicker and these rapids are considered easy by most experienced rafters. The waves are smaller but you can still have an exciting ride. Some maneuvering may be required to get around obstacles.
- Class III: Fast moving water with lots of rocky hazards in the river. High choppy waves and narrow passageways call for precise navigation. Rafters can expect an exhilarating adventure.
- Class IV: Churning turbulent waters with restricted passageways. These rapids are extremely difficult to navigate from the water. Rafters are encouraged to scout the course the river takes from land before every ride.
- Class V and Class VI: Rapids are so violent they’re only suitable for professional stuntmen.
As I mentioned above, a whitewater rafting adventure on the Upper Pigeon River will definitely test your mettle. And the folks over at Rafting in the Smokies™ always deliver big time rushes. They provide trained, certified, professionals to guide your raft and ensure that your trip is always safe, comfortable and action-packed with fun. Excursions last around two hours and cover approximately five miles. The experience is super cool as are the nicknames given to the feisty rapids: Too Late, Vegematic, Razor Blade, After Shave and Lost Guide. Trips are open to anyone 8 years of age and older who weigh at least 70 pounds. All riders must wear life jackets/personal floatation devices (PDFs), a helmet and closed-toed shoes. No flip-flops or sandals are allowed. Reservations are required.
I got super soaked but had a blast. This experience was totally awesome! It rivaled any manmade thrill at an amusement park. All natural fun with fellow whitewater enthusiasts and the top-notch folks at Rafting in the Smokies—you just can’t beat it. Highly recommended!
For those a bit skittish about taking a ride on the wild side, there are more mild options available. River Romp is perfect for those who prefer just to float merrily, merrily down the stream (or river in this case). There are five light Class I rapids to choose from. Each is tame enough for even the youngest members of the family to brave. These waters are also ideal for grandma and grandpa. Rides generally last two hours and travel about 2.5 miles down the river. Tubers are encouraged to bring a cooler filled with their favorite snack items. Tube rates are good for the entire day.
If you’re planning to enjoy some whitewater rafting in the Smokies remember this: rivers are mighty and powerful. They can change rapidly and don’t care about classifications—so respect them! Use caution, know your limits, be safe and have fun!