White Water Rafting Atlanta

Class IV Olympic Whitewater Rafting Course

The Ocoee River is located in Polk County Tennessee just north of Atlanta and the Georgia State line. Get off that couch and into a raft for outstanding Ocoee river rafting action.The river is entirely in only one county because the river’s name changes as it enters Tennessee from Georgia and it merges with and becomes the Hiwassee river while still in Polk County Tennessee.  Upstream from the Gerogia Tennessee state line the river is called the Toccoa River.  The Toccoa/Ocoee river begins its journey deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest with headwaters near Suches Georgia.  Numerous small trout streams flow together to form the Upper Toccoa; including Coopers Creek, Rock Creek and Noontula creek.  The creeks and river flow uninterrupted until it reaches the back waters of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County near Blue Ridge Georgia.    The Dam which forms Blue Ridge lake is about 15 miles south of the Tennessee state line and is one of four dams and power generating facilities located on the Toccoa Ocoee river.Just below Dam number three starts the Ocoee River Rafting ten-mile section of the Ocoee River.

Why is it called White Water Rafting?

White water rafting received its name because the raft is the inflatable boat that you ride to paddle through the rough waters and rapids. ‘White’ water comes because the frothing rapids of a guzzling river make the water appear white.

What to wear when you come white water rafting?

For the summer shorts or a bathing suit or swim trunks and a T-shirt are best. Shoes that will stay on your feet are required, which can be river sandals, old tennis shoes, or nylon topped water shoes. No Flip Flops or other shoes that won’t stay on your feet for rafting the Ocoee River!

For the cooler weather we recommend synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene or nylon or synthetic fleece. We have some “spray gear” to keep off the splash and if it is really cold we have wet suits at the outpost –all free to our guest.

What are the different classes of white water rafting?


Moving water with small waves that tug at the boat – it’s a relaxing way to spend the day. Each of our trips have some stretches of calm class I water, creating a pleasant break between rapids.


Easy rapids, waves up to three feet tall that are readily seen, and wide channels that can be discovered without scouting. Some maneuvering is required during this little rock and roll.


Waves up to four feet and narrow passages that send the boat shimmying and water gushing over it’s sides. Plenty of excitement.


Long, difficult rapids, narrow passages, turbulent water that requires precise maneuvering and sends hearts racing.


All of the above and then some – large, complex, gushing rapids, twisting, and spinning to deliver the consummate adrenaline rush.


The extreme “un-runnable” rivers or waterfalls. Only the most expert should attempt this – usually seen in extreme kayak videos, etc. Outfitter raft trips don’t go here – there’s too much other water to enjoy without risking it all!

Ocoee River and Ocoee Adventure Center serve up continuous class III and IV white water rafting experience. 

Ocoee River Rafting

Ocoee River Rafting

Comparison of the Upper and Middle Ocoee river sections

Both the Upper and Middle Ocoee sections are roughly five miles long and take a similar amount of time to raft (about 2 hours each).  Each section has numerous class three and class four rapids.  Both are fun and exhilarating and you can’t miss selecting either section.  The Upper Ocoee goes back in a remote canyon well away from the highway.   The first mile and a half of the Upper Ocoee starts relatively easier with mostly class two rapids and a few class three.  There are a couple of nice spots to get the raft into a small hydraulic and surf the wave while staying in one spot.  After that you start getting closer to the section where the Olympics were held and the rapids start to really pick up.  Once you are in the Olympic Course area there are numerous back to back rapids some of which are the largest anywhere on the Ocoee River—Upper or Middle.  After you leave the Olympic sections there are a couple more large class four rapids and then the last mile slows back down until you reach the lunch spot between the Upper and Middle Ocoee.   

The Middle Ocoee is the “traditional” Ocoee and has more rapids Middle Ocoee River rafting the Upper has though none quite as large as the biggest ones on the Upper section.  As opposed to starting off gentler like the Upper, the Middle has a major class four rapid immediately after you put your raft in the river.   The class three and four rapids come one right after the other with only one good sized break about half way down the Middle section.  The Middle is one of the most continuous stretches of whitewater anywhere and you are constantly getting splashed …pure excitement!

The Full ocoee river rafting trip
The great thing about the Full River trip is that you don’t miss a thing plus you get a nice break for a delicious river side lunch. The entire trip takes around six hours for this trip and out on the water/lunch for about four and a half hours. The lunch stop takes about 45-minute break which makes for a more relaxing trip.

Rapids of White Water Rafting on the Ocoee River near Atlanta

Middle Ocoee River Rafting

The start of the Middle Ocoee is spectacular!  The water from the lake falls over the top of the 30-foot dam that is Ocoee Dam number 2 making for a giant river wide waterfall.  There is a wide walkway on the right side of the Dam which you carry your raft down to put on the river at the base of the dam.  The Middle starts right off with a bang!  Grumpy’s rapid is only 100 yards downstream from the put in and it is a major class four rapid.  It is formed by a ledge that is almost river wide with a narrow slot to shoot your raft through for a clean run.  Below Grumpy’s is several hundred yards of continuous rapids ending in large eddy on river right call “Staging Eddy”.  Your trip collects here before continuing downstream. Leaving Staging Eddy the next rapid up is called Gonzo Shoals rapid.  The river widens out here and there are shallow ledges that are a bit tricky to run and not get the raft stuck.  After Gonzo we head for one of the Middle Ocoee’s most difficult rapids, Broken Nose.  Not to hard to figure out how this one got its name.  The river channels along the right river bank and falls over a series of three drops in succession.  The water is “pushy” and requires precise control to prevent bouncing off the river right bank and into any one of the three drops.  After Broken Nose you move to the left side of the river for some fun playful class two rapids with nice waves that lead into a rapid called Second Helping.  Second Helping is a good sized ledge shallow on the right and middle but with a good drip on river left.  It is followed in quick succession by another good wave drop and fun play place.  Downstream from Second Helping the river splits into two channels and the right channel is a lot more fun.  The right channel contains the rapid Moonshoot and is a fun place for some good spin moves with the raft.  Smaller fun rapids continue for a couple of hundred yards before you come to probably the single largest drop on the Ocoee; Double Suck rapid.  It is named for two large holes at the bottom which are powerful.  If you fall in one of these, hope you swim trunks are cinched up tight.    The river continues with some nice waves and rocks to avoid for the next half mile through a section called Hell’s Half Mile because a long swim through here would not be fun.  Leaving Hell’s half mile, the river narrows down and channels into a series of large standing waves in the rapid called Double Trouble.  On Commercial trips the professional photographers stage here because they can get some good shots of the rafts being tossed about.  Next up is Left Right Left rapid which is pretty easy, you start on the left then move right and you guessed it …move back right again.  Continuing on down are two rapids, Flipper and Hollywood with nice places to play and surf the raft and show off your moves.  At Hollywood you are approximately half way down the Middle Ocoee. 

The second half of the Middle begins with the longest “flat stretch” of the Ocoee with moving water but no rapids.  This is called The Doldrums and is a great place to hop out of the raft for a cool swim in the river.  After the Doldrums the river contains some smaller shallow rapids where the objective is primarily not getting the raft stuck but watch out because there is one somewhat hidden ledge in this stretch called Surprise.  We can’t tell you about that one because it’s a ….surprise!  Down around the bend however is one of the largest rapids on the entire river, Tablesaw.  Tablesaw is a hundred yards of large waves holes and splash with a boulder at the bottom on the right which must be avoided.  Closely following is another big Drop called Diamond Splitter.  This rapid has a really large rock in the center which sends the water left and right around it.  The right channel is pretty smooth, but the left channel has a large hole called Witches Hole.  A large eddy on river left allows you to surf Witches hole from below.  After Diamond Splitter the river slows down a little although there are some fun rapids that have two names depending on your preference or how long you have been around the river.  Slingshot is also called Accelerator where the river really speeds up and is a great place for spin moves in a raft.  The second rapid is called both Cats Pajamas and Juicer depending on how long you have been around.  For some reason it an easy place to end up out of the raft and in the water.  After Cats, the river gets eerily quiet for a hundred yards.  Downstream you see the Ocoee number two powerhouse and a bridge across the river and a horizon line but not the rest of the river.  As you get close you can see a long sloping big wave rapid with a whole lot of white at the bottom.  You have arrived at Hell Hole and it is a boat stopping and if you are not careful boat flipping obstacle.  Enter with power and the correct boat angle and you will have a great ride.  Hell Hole is followed by the last rapid on the Middle Ocoee, Power House rapid, just stay right through a nice couple of waves and then float down to the Middle take out.    

Directions from Atlanta to Copperhill and the Ocoee White Water River Rafting:

From Atlanta to our outpost, take I-75 North out of Atlanta and about 20 miles north of the city take the exit for I-575 (Exit 268). Stay on this highway – it will change to Hwy 515 or 5, but it is the same highway. You will pass by small towns – Jasper, Ellijay, Cherry Log and enter Blue Ridge. Turn left at the traffic light in Blue Ridge onto Highway 5 north at the McDonald’s Restaurant.

Stay on highway 5 for about 10 miles to McCaysville, GA. In McCaysville, you will cross the river bridge (this is the Ocoee!), you and enter Tennessee and the town of Copperhill. The road ends at a three way stop, and you turn left. You are now on Hwy 68 north in Tennessee.

You will go about three miles on Hwy 68, past a big historic copper-smelting factory, up to Highway 64. (Watch for the sign to the Ocoee River on the right) After taking the exit ramp for Hwy 64, turn left on 64 west. You will see a Piggly Wiggly grocery, and a couple of motels. This is Ducktown! Continue on Hwy 64 about 2 1/2 miles and our Outpost will be on the right in the log cabin with a big blue sign out front saying Ocoee Adventure Center.