Ocoee Whitewater

A thrilling river offering up many Class III-IV rapids! Consequently makes the Ocoee one of the best whitewater rivers in the southeast. Additionally, with two distinct sections available for rafting, kayaking, or river boarding, you can spend anywhere from 3 hours to all day on the river. The Ocoee is the home of the 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak slalom events site. You can visit the venue venue. Or even raft it with Paddleman!  Outfitters like OAC provide rafting services on both the upper and middle sections. We would like to think that Paddleman and Ocoee Adventure Center offer the best outfitting services on the river.

Scenic River

The Ocoee River is a scenic whitewater river in the southeastern Tennessee. Its headwaters begin in the mountains of northern Georgia near Suches. This river is so nice it has two names. As it is called the Toccoa River in Georgia until it crosses the Tennessee state line and becomes the Ocoee. In total, it flows 93 miles until it meets the Hiwassee River just upstream of the Tennessee River. Regulating the river flow are four dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). One dam is on the Toccoa and three more are downstream on the Ocoee.

This is a favorite spot for many whitewater activities. Activities like rafting and kayaking draw many tourists to Polk County and Blue Ridge Georgia. The Ocoee River is well known for its Class III and IV rapids! Making it a most popular destination for whitewater sports enthusiasts. Enjoy the lush green forests. This location offers some of the best fishing in the region. This river is a great place to enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Fun Whitewater

Whitewater rafting adventure is an exhilarating experience that offers an unforgettable day on the river.  With Class III and IV rapids and stunning views of the surrounding Appalachians, the river is a must-visit for thrill-seekers and outdoor adventurers. Expert guides and state-of-the-art equipment help provide a thrilling yet safe experience for all levels of experience. 

The Middle Ocoee and Upper Ocoee river sections are both very popular among whitewater enthusiasts. Each section is about 5 mile miles long. Middle section has been commercially whitewater rafted since the late 1970s. The Olympic games held in Atlanta really got the river on the map during the summer of 1996. Upper Ocoee commercial rafting got its start after construction of the venue. 

Power Generation

During much of the twentieth century the whitewater sections of the river have been dry due to power generation. Ocoee Number Two Dam was built in 1913 and the Middle section was then dry except for occasional floods until the flume line ruptured in the 1970s. The Upper section was likewise dewatered by Ocoee Number Three Dam in 1941.

Even today most often the ten mile stretch of riverbed from Ocoee Number Three Dam to the Ocoee Number Two Powerhouse is nearly dry. Between releases there is only a trickle of water in the riverbed. Thus recreational releases negotiated by the outfitters and local whitewater community are vital to the whitewater industry and recreation. The dams divert water through a system of flumes from the dams to the powerhouse stations downstream. Now days the electrical generation of the river is minimal compared to TVA’s nuclear power stations. But in the past the power was vital to the Chattanooga, Cleveland, and the surrounding areas.

Recreational Releases

During the weekends in the Spring and Fall and weekdays in the Summer, rafters and kayakers from all over the southeast flock to the river. There have been multiple negotiations regarding the recreational releases of the Ocoee River. At times the struggle reaches Congress and the Legislature of Tennessee. The current agreement was negotiated with TVA and the state of Tennessee. Tennessee pays a large one time payment to TVA for water releases. However outfitters of the Ocoee River in turn pay the state 10% of proceeds from rafting the river. Therefore, without the rafting participants, the riverbed would be a dry trickle and no recreational crafts would decorate the river in the Summertime. We write additional articles that look into the history of these negotiations and agreements.

TVA posts recreational releases online. You can view the release schedules for the upper and middle sections or view our rafting calendar for more information.

OAC Ocoee River Blog Articles

Learn more about the Ocoee River and her history and rapids in our blogs. If you have questions give us a call or send us an email.