Tennessee offers many different ways to experience the great outdoors and enjoy exciting adventures. Tennessee is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which boasts more than 800 square miles of rugged peaks and old-growth forests.
The rolling hills are home to one of the highest concentrations of waterfalls in North America; over 900 miles of hiking trails crisscross the landscape, providing ample opportunities for exploration. Visitors also enjoy riding horseback through dense forest land, fishing in mountain lakes, or simply sightseeing along the Blue Ridge Parkway. For a truly thrilling thrillseekers should head to Tennessee’s eastern border with North Carolina where they can go whitewater rafting down rapids ranging from Class I all the way up to Class V!
The Smoky Mountains are a range of the Appalachian Mountains. They extend from northeastern Georgia, along the western border of North Carolina, to northern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. The mountain range is part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934 and encompasses 522,786 acres (2,126 km²).
The highest point in this chain is Clingmans Dome, standing 6643 feet (1997 m) above sea level; other notable peaks include Mount Le Conte at 6593 feet (2010 m), Thunderhead Mountain at 6593 feet (2010 m), Mount Guyot at 5832 feet (1792 m), and Mount Kephart at 5398 feet (1601 m).
The Pigeon River is a Class III-IV river that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s a popular whitewater rafting destination, and it’s one of the most beautiful rivers in Tennessee. The Pigeon River originates near Fontana Dam and feeds into Douglas Lake before flowing into the Tennessee River. Along its 70 miles, you’ll find several Class III rapids, including Mill Creek Rapid (which can be navigated without an experienced guide), Big Rock Rapid, Tellico Rapid and more!
Blue Heron Whitewater Rafting
You get to choose between whitewater rafting and kayaking, or you can go for a more laid-back canoe ride. Whitewater rafting is perfect for adrenaline junkies who want a thrill with their vacation. You’ll get to experience fast-moving rapids and one of the most beautiful parts of Tennessee—the Nolichucky Gorge.
The adventure starts with an easy drive from Knoxville (about 1 hour) up to the Nolichucky River where you’ll meet your guide and gear up at Blue Heron’s base camp before taking off into the wilds of eastern Tennessee. Your guides will take care of all the details—they’ll provide life jackets, paddles, helmets (if you’re brave enough), dry bags for storing snacks and cameras, tents if needed and anything else that might come in handy during your adventure on the river!
The Upper Pigeon River, on the North Carolina-Tennessee line near Gatlinburg, boasts one of the highest concentration of Class III and IV rapids in the East.
It’s a great river for beginners or experts looking for a challenge. Families love it too; you can bring your kids here with no worries about their safety or comfort. This river is also popular with groups who want to experience something that isn’t quite as crazy as white water rafting but still has some thrills. Solo paddlers will find this an exciting spot to work on their skills and hone their technique before trying out a more challenging river downstream.
Gatlinburg is a city in Sevier County, Tennessee, United States. It is located on the border between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. The population was 4,520 at the 2000 census and increased to 5,498 in 2010. Gatlinburg derived its name from Archibald Gatlin (1749-1815), who first settled at what is now known as Gatlinburg in 1792; his son John later became a wealthy planter and slaveholder who owned one of Tennessee’s largest estates with over 600 slaves.
Gatlinburg lies within an area that was originally populated by what were known as Southern Appalachian peoples including the Cherokee Indian Nation. In 1823 when James Polk became president of the United States he signed a treaty ceding much of Tennessee to them through their agent Major Ridge who established himself as head chief over all other Cherokee leaders throughout this region which was called “The Nation.”
You can go whitewater rafting in Tennessee.
If you’re looking to go whitewater rafting in Tennessee, look no further. You can head to Gatlinburg and embark on an adventure down the Pigeon River. Or, if you’d like to be closer to the Smoky Mountains, then there are several rivers that flow through this area.
Whether you’re interested in going whitewater rafting in Gatlinburg or one of the other areas mentioned above, it’s important that you know what kind of experience you want before choosing a company. Each company will offer something different based on their location (elevation) and what kind of river they use for tours.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on the best places to go white water rafting in Tennessee. The state has much to offer, both in terms of scenery and adventure, and we’re sure it will have something for everyone. Have fun and stay safe!
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