White water rafting: Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge. The scenic Pigeon River has become increasingly popular for white water rafting in Tennessee. It offers 2 runs, the Upper Pigeon for excitement, and the Lower Pigeon for a more relaxed trip. A variety of local outfitters offer guided rafting trips, so even novices can enjoy whitewater thrills.
The Pigeon River originates near Asheville, North Carolina, and enters Tennessee along the northern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Cherokee National Forest. The river roughly follows the course of Interstate 40, making it easily accessible. The Pigeon River's proximity to the national park and to the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge makes it a very attractive recreational area.
The Pigeon River is controlled by the Walters Dam, which provides water releases for recreation 4 days per week between Memorial Day and Labor Day. These regular releases ensure good water levels throughout the season.
The Upper Pigeon River is the more challenging run, with 5 miles of Class III and IV rapids with names like Vegematic, Roller Coaster, Lost Guide, and Double Reaction. The run starts near the Tennessee & North Carolina state line and ends at Hartford, Tennessee. Guided trips are suitable for children 8 years and older.
The Lower Pigeon is a gentler run, with 5 miles of scenic class I-II rapids. This run starts at Hartford, Tennessee and ends at Denton. Guided trips are suitable for children as young as 3-4 years.
Outfitters are located in Hartford, Tennessee, off of Interstate 40, about a 45 minute drive from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.