Whitewater Rafting the Ocoee River

Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
#1
In Tennessee...anyone with experience riding the Upper and Middle Ocoee? I'm planning a last minute summer vacation and the wife wants to go white water rafting on some class III and IV rapids.
I'm looking for opinions on this one, or other SouthEastern US whitewater rafting locations and lodgings.

Thanks,
Sean
 

Riles_J

Well-known member
May 8, 2007
218
Nashville, TN
#2
I have been rafting on the Ocoee and had a great time. The rafting was great and we stayed at State (I think?? it was an unmanned, leave the money on your way out kind of deal) It was right on the river and nice though. It's been a few years but I have fond memories of my trip to the Ocoee.

Riles
 

ktdave

LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2007
888
Katy, TX
#3
Poolsean,
Back in my whitewater kayaking days (before I had a family, i.e. people that depend on me to stay alive!) the Ocoee was one of my favorites! I would highly recommend this to your family. All of the guides that I fraternized with were GREAT and I am sure that tradition continues. I thought it was great just to be in the mountains, go camping, hit the whitewater, etc. The Nantahala (sp?) River in western NC is also a good choice. It's a little less "white" (mostly class I & II), but it is what I "cut my teeth on". You could forego the guide and rent inflatable kayaks (think they are called duckies) and do it yourself. I did spend about five years going about every other weekend doing this, so if you have any specific questions just ask.

Dave
 
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Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
#4
Dave,

What do you recommend for lodging? I'm a Hilton Honors type of a guy, with some points to spend. I know there's a Hampton Inn in Cleveland, about 25 minutes away? Is there a good place by the Ocoee affordable enough for 5 people?
 

PoolDad2

Well-known member
Jun 24, 2007
53
Eastern NC
#5
ktdave said:
Poolsean,
Back in my whitewater kayaking days (before I had a family, i.e. people that depend on me to stay alive!) the Ocoee was one of my favorites! I would highly recommend this to your family. All of the guides that I fraternized with were GREAT and I am sure that tradition continues. I thought it was great just to be in the mountains, go camping, hit the whitewater, etc. The Nantahala (sp?) River in western NC is also a good choice. It's a little less "white" (mostly class I & II), but it is what I "cut my teeth on". You could forego the guide and rent inflatable kayaks (think they are called duckies) and do it yourself. I did spend about five years going about every other weekend doing this, so if you have any specific questions just ask.

Dave
The Nantahala River is nice either as a group or on a duck. One thing about it is the water is cold, like 60 degrees. It runs under ground for I think 11 miles from the dam. So be prepared to have cold feet. We went last year and had a blast. We stayed at a rental cottage in Bryson City. We also WWR down the French Broad River over by Hot Springs NC just north of Asheville. We camped at Hot Springs and it turns out that is where our rafting ended. There was one class IV in that trip and one small class IV in the Nantahala trip. We went in late July and the weather was great. It is a great experience for the whole family.
 

KurtV

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2007
270
SE Louisiana
#6
Sean,
The Nolichucky (right above the TN/NC border NE of the GSMNP) is a pretty nice stretch of water. Probably too tame if your family has much rafting experience but a great starter river. We did a couple of trips with Rock 'n' Water a couple of years ago and they were very good. We were renting a cabin at Wolf Ridge Resort at the time; highly recommended (about 30 minutes north of Asheville just south of the TN line).
 
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Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
#7
Sweet. Thanks PoolDad2 and Kurt.

When I checked the Nathahala River, it said that 13 was minimum age for Class III and I have my youngest at 12. :(
I'm by no means an expert, and neither are my kids (in fact, we've never done it before), but my wife did some WWR when she was younger. Well, she was also a US Army nurse that served in the Gulf war and has threatened that she could murderize me and get away with using Gulf War Syndrome as an excuse and she wants to do at least a Class III! The kids love roller coasters and such, but I'm the wuss. I can't even do Mad Hatters Tea Cup ride at Disney!
But, it's better than death by Gulf War Syndrome!
 

PoolDad2

Well-known member
Jun 24, 2007
53
Eastern NC
#8
Poolsean,

We went with The Nantahala Outdoor Center for rafting and our one daughter who was 9 last year went with us with no problems. The Nantahala isn't that bad unless there is major rain a day or two before you go and they release more water from the dam than normal. The tour stops you part way in the trip and everyone gets a chance to swim in the river, they connected three rafts upside down and you ran across the top and jumped out into the middle of the river. It was great. What was wild was the fog coming off the water from it being so cold. It made it really nice and then there is the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad that runs along the river, we got to see the train on our venture. I think you will like it, not that many III rapids. :-D
 

duraleigh

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In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
31,387
Sebring, Florida
#9
Poolsean,

Your wife will, in fact, "murderize" you if you take her to the Nantahala. There's only one class III at the very end of the ride and it's fairly tame (except for a nasty hydraulic if you get too far left). You and the kids will love it. It's biggest draw is that it's hydro-electric fed and the water rises nicely every day about 11:00AM. I can't remember if the Ocoee is natural or hydro but it's a very popular ride so I imagine there is some consistency to the flow.

She may be hard-pressed to find the kind of water she's looking for this time of the year. Most of the big water in the Smokies is natural so you have to go in Spring (or early Winter) to get the effect. Of course, the best source is to call the outfitters that run the rivers daily and you will get good advice concerning kids, current flow, etc.
 

PoolDad2

Well-known member
Jun 24, 2007
53
Eastern NC
#10
If your looking for some good white water go to New River Gorge in West Virginia. I have not been there but from what I have seen it has some class IV's and I think a V. I have a video of some guys riding their stand up jet ski's on it.

I was mistaken on the Nantahala it is a class III at the end not a IV, sorry for the miss info. It was still fun, not to mention the expression on our daughters face from the photo you can purchase after your trip.
 
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Poolsean

TFP Expert
Apr 15, 2007
1,462
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
#11
The Ocoee is fed from a dam that the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authorities) operate so it's suppose to be fairly consistent. Some sites showed video of the different Class sections at the different rivers. Ocoee is definately a nice looking ride. About $90 to do the Combo, 6-hr, middle (Class III) and upper rivers (Class IV). The Upper river is where they had the Olympics kayacing back in the 90's...pretty cool.

Thanks for the New River Gorge tip, but as I'm driving from South Florida, I think I want to limit the driving to closer spots.
I do like the idea of the break in between and swimming in the river...very nice.
 

ktdave

LifeTime Supporter
May 8, 2007
888
Katy, TX
#12
duraleigh said:
Your wife will, in fact, "murderize" you if you take her to the Nantahala. There's only one class III at the very end of the ride and it's fairly tame (except for a nasty hydraulic if you get too far left). You and the kids will love it. It's biggest draw is that it's hydro-electric fed and the water rises nicely every day about 11:00AM. I can't remember if the Ocoee is natural or hydro but it's a very popular ride so I imagine there is some consistency to the flow.

She may be hard-pressed to find the kind of water she's looking for this time of the year. Most of the big water in the Smokies is natural so you have to go in Spring (or early Winter) to get the effect. Of course, the best source is to call the outfitters that run the rivers daily and you will get good advice concerning kids, current flow, etc.
I'll have to agree with Dave S., if your looking for some good whitewater, the Ocoee is the BOMB, but if your looking for something a little (well a good bit actually) more tame, do the nantahala. Sorry, I don't know much about lodging as I mostly camped when I went. Either way I think your family is in for a real TREAT! Good choice for a vacation!