Rafting questions frequently asked

We hope you find these rafting questions and answers useful. However our office at 888-723-8622 will happily answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding rafting the Ocoee River. To help inform our clients, we provide these questions and answers.

Requirements to raft

Is there an age limit for rafting the Ocoee River?

The state of Tennessee requires commercial rafting participants on the Ocoee River to be at least 12 years of age. Easier rivers like the Pigeon and Nolichucky have lower age requirements of 8 and 10 years of age.

Do I need whitewater rafting experience to go on the Ocoee?

No experience is necessary. Our highly trained guides in each boat will instruct you and give commands for you to follow. Just follow instructions, paddle, and have fun.

Do I need to know how to swim?

Being a good swimmer will help reduce the inherent risks of rafting. It is recommended non-swimmers not exceed class III. This rafting the middle section would be more appropriate for non-swimmers than the upper section.

Preparations for rafting

What time should I arrive?

We recommend arriving about 15 to 20 minutes prior to your trip time to allow for restroom visits and completing your waivers. Be aware the Ocoee River is located in the Eastern Time Zone. So if you are coming from the Central Time Zone you will lose an hour!.

Should I Go Whitewater Rafting?

While a full blown river lifestyle is not everyone’s cup of tea, I believe that everyone should experience whitewater rafting at least once. Provided you can swim and are reasonably fit. You should be able to climb a few flights of stairs without becoming winded.

Should I Raft the Middle Ocoee River or the Upper Ocoee River?

This is a question we get a lot from folks not familiar with the Ocoee River. The whitewater rafting stretch of the Ocoee River is divided into two sections which are separated by a small dam. Both of the river stretches are around five miles in length and are controlled by a series of TVA dams. The middle is rated class III-III+ at normal levels. While the upper is rated class III-IV with a few big pushy class IV rapids.

How to Prepare for Your Ocoee Rafting Trip?

Avoid wearing cotton. Instead wear quick dry shorts/bathing suit. Wear a quick dry shirt for both comfort and sun protection. Wear sturdy footwear such as sneakers, water shoes, wetsuit booties or sandals with straps but not flip-flops. Apply suntan lotion but not oil before getting on the bus! Read our article about preparing for your whitewater rafting trip.

How long does it take to raft the Ocoee River?

We offer Middle Ocoee River Rafting Trips and Full River Rafting Trips which last 3.5 hours and 6 hours respectively, with the Full Trip including lunch. We provide more time for river play and surfing to make your experience more memorable than with other providers. Learn more about the trip lengths and river play by reading our article How long does it take to raft the Ocoee?

Can you wear jeans white water rafting?

The answer is a resounding no. Cotton is a poor material choice for any activity near or in water. It absorbs water and becomes heavy and uncomfortable. Likely impairing your ability to swim or stay afloat if you find yourself in the water. In addition, cotton holds onto water, which means that it will remove body heat from your skin more quickly through evaporative cooling

What should I wear rafting?

You should wear a bathing suit, swim trunks, and a T-shirt with shoes that will stay on their feet, such as river sandals, old tennis shoes, or nylon topped water shoes. Flip Flops and other shoes that won’t stay on are not allowed. For cooler weather avoid cotton and we recommend wearing synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene, nylon, or synthetic fleece. We also provide “spray gear” for protection against the splash and wet suits for really cold days. Read our blog and watch a video about what to wear and bring rafting.

What else should I bring?

Bring a dry change of clothes, a towel, sunscreen, and shower items for after rafting. Come prepared for physical activity, well-rested and hydrated; drink your water before your trip instead of bringing a plastic bottle on the river. Eat well before your trip to fuel yourself while paddling and playing. Learn more about what to bring rafting.

What are the DOs and DON’Ts of whitewater rafting?

Know the Ten Dos and Don’ts of whitewater rafting. It is important to know what to do or not do while rafting. Read our article with five of each for your safety and piece of mind while rafting.

Rafting season and weather

When can you raft the Ocoee River?

Typically the commercial rafting season on the Ocoee River begins in April and runs through October. Read our article about when to raft the Ocoee River for more information about the seasons and scheduled of the upper and middle sections.

When is the Ocoee River rafting season?

The middle section of the Ocoee River is available to raft from April through October. While the upper section is only available on weekend from May through September. Check our rafting calendar for details.

What is the best time of year to go white water rafting in Tennessee?

When deciding on the best time of year to go white water rafting in Tennessee, it really depends on what type of experience you are looking for. If you’re looking for an invigorating experience with cooler water. Then spring is the time to go. The water is colder, but you will be rewarded with the stunning beauty of the mountains and the wildflowers in bloom. If you’re more interested in warmer water, the summer months are your best bet. Although this is the busiest time of year, you can avoid the crowds by going mid-week. Read our article about the best time of year to raft for more info.

When is the Best Time to Raft the Ocoee River?

When is the best time to raft the Ocoee River? Each month is different with its own perks. April has lower crowds but cooler water. May is a bit warmer and but still has lower crowds with the exception of Memorial Day weekend. However Memorial Day Monday is always slow and a great time to raft! During peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day you can raft on weekends and weekdays with the exception of Tuesdays and Wednesdays. August is a great time to avoid crowds after schools open and the water is still very warm. And the fall is a great time to avoid crowds and watch the colors change before the water get cold again. Read our article about the best time of year to raft the Ocoee.

What is the water temperature of the Ocoee?

The Ocoee River is a popular destination for rafting, kayaking, and tubing. Located in eastern Tennessee and spanning over 70 miles, the Ocoee River offers a thrilling ride for water sports enthusiasts. While the rapids are the main attraction, the water temperature of the river can also play a large part in the experience. The Ocoee River is impounded three times in shallow lakes upstream of the whitewater. This allows the sun to warm the water. The result is warmer than usual mountain water. Read our article about the Ocoee River water temperatures and read the gauge yourself.

What about the weather?

We do go rafting rain or shine. You are going to get wet anyway and why not have a bunch of fun in the rain? A baseball cap under your helmet will help keep the rain out of your eyes. Lightning – Usually thunder storms are intermittent and brief, passing through the area quickly. Exposure on the river is minimal due to the surrounding mountains and trees. We may delay our trips at the Outpost or at the river put-in if a storm is occurring at those trip times.

Should weather cause high water officials will close the river to commercial rafting. If the river exceeds 3,000 cfs officials will stop commercial activities on the river for safety.

What is the Ocoee River Level?

Learn how to determine Ocoee River levels from gauges and generation info on TVA’s website. If you are a commercial rafter just check our calendar for scheduled release days. Private boaters trying to get in a winter day or unscheduled release can use the process outlined in our article about is the Ocoee running.

About the river

What class is the Ocoee River?

The Ocoee River features class III and IV rapids. Thus, it is the most popular river for whitewater rafting in the United States. It is known for its rapids, from family-friendly class IIIs to thrilling class IVs. The Ocoee  two sections are the Middle Ocoee and the Upper Ocoee. Each offers a unique experience. The Middle Ocoee offers thrilling class III energetic fun for the whole family. While the Upper Ocoee is more demanding but offers up thrilling class IV sure to please thrill seekers. Read our article about the Ocoee River classification for a deeper dive into the subject.

The Ocoee River rapids are rated class III and IV. What does this mean?

The International Scale of River Difficulty ranges from one to six. The Ocoee River falls into the sweet spot of thrilling but manageable risks. The middle section of the Ocoee river is rated class III-III+. While the upper section is rated class III-IV. Learn more about river classifications.

Does the Ocoee River have Class 5 Rapids?

No, the Ocoee does not have any Class 5 rapids. Learn more by reading our articles about about the Ocoee River rapid classifications and the differences between the river sections.

How many rapids are on the Ocoee River?

The Ocoee River features at least 40 named and notable rapids. While the upper section features fewer rapid those present are bigger and more powerful. However the middle is very continuos with nearly none stop action for five miles. Read our article about the Ocoee River rapids for their names and more.

Can you swim in the Ocoee River?

Yes, you can swim in the Ocoee River. Especially at Blue Hole and the Olympic Course near the former Ocoee Whitewater Center during weekdays. Always check the level and conditions first. The Ocoee River is a popular destination. Read our article about swimming in the Ocoee River for details.

What movie was filmed on the Ocoee River?

The 2017 American crime thriller Blood Money was filmed in part on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Read our articles about filming the movie on the Ocoee.

Is the Ocoee River man made?

No, the Ocoee River is not man-made. It is a naturally occurring mountain river in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. However the quarter mile segment used in the 1996 Olympics was modified for the games. Read more in our article about the natural Ocoee River.

About the rafts

How many people to a raft?

Our normal seating is six customers and one guide per raft. Our goal is to fill every raft to six customers. If you have fewer than six people you will probably be combined with other customers to fill the seats. If you have more than six you group will be broken down to fit in additional rafts. We always strive to make the most logical seating with consideration to our customer groups. Our Ocoee rafts are the highest quality 8 person NRS rafts available.

What kind of rafts are used commercially on the Ocoee River

Whitewater paddle rafts on the Ocoee River are typically designed for eight people. However most outfitters load them with four to six guests with a guide for the best experience. These rafts are constructed of tubes, thwarts, and a self-bailing floor. Learn more about how the rafts are designed and constructed in our article about the rafts used on the Ocoee River.

Rafting costs

How much does it cost to go white water rafting in Tennessee?

The cost of white water rafting can vary significantly depending on several factors. Factors such as the time of year you go. Or the type of rafting trip you choose. And of course the location of the river. Get the low down in our article about rafting prices in TN.

How much does it cost to raft the Ocoee River?

Typically the cost of of rafting trips vary due to several factors. Some factors that may impact cost include: the time of year, the day of the week, size of your party, river section or sections, trip length, and time on water. Get details in our article for picking the best rafting trips for you at the best time of year.