Rafting the Ocoee River
In southeast Tennessee, about an hour outside of Chattanooga, TN, there is a river with class IV rapids and a history of Cherokee and Creek Indians, TVA allowing commercialization of the river in 1977, and most notably the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Slalom events. 1977 marked the beginning of commercial raft companies taking paying participants down the raging river.
Now over 300,000 whitewater enthusiasts come from all over the world to go down the Ocoee with a raft, kayak, tube or canoe to test their bravery. With a myriad of local commercial rafting companies to service your adventure, you really cannot go wrong. I would suggest:
River Guide Companies
The Ocoee is separated into three sections, The Upper Section (Olympic Section), The Middle Section (Main Commercialization section) and the Lower Section (Great for lazy tubing, swimming, and boating). I have been on the middle section twice and it has been great both times. The second time I went down the river I asked to do a “Fun Run”. I am not sure if all of the guide groups offer this, but it is a ride without any rules for the guides.
We did things like “Ridding the Bull” where you sit on the very front of the raft with your legs hanging off, we spun the raft in circles as we went down the rapids, the guide had all of us sit in the back of the boat as we hit the last class IV rapid and we all flew out at the same time, he ran us into rocks, jumped out of the boat onto a rock and did a back flip into the river, and other crazy things like that. So, if you’re up for it, try to ask and see if they offer anything like this. I believe we were with the Ocoee Adventure Center (OAC).
The Intense Upper Section
I have never done the upper section but I have had many friends that have, and they all said that it was great. If you do have the chance to go down the upper section, DO IT!!! You can tell everyone that you went down an Olympic class river!!
By Clark Brewer