Best Place To Go Whitewater Rafting

My Partner (Center) & I (Right) along with our River guide from Ocoee Outdoors, LaShawn (Left) rafting the whitewaters of the Ocoee River

HOW IT ALL STARTED

After riding my motorcycle up to the Deals Gap, and riding the Tail of the Dragon (318 Curves in 11 miles) for a few years.

Our Bikes (Yamaha FZ1 & Harley CVO Limited) with the Famous Metal Dragon guarding the entrance to the Tail of the Dragon on the famous US 129

The route we rode going to the Dragon took us along the beautiful US-64 route through Ocoee TN, and Benton TN. Riding the twisty’s alongside the Ocoee River, and Lake Ocoee.

As you lean into the curves of US-64, you can see the Whitewater Rafters paddling down the River. It looked quite fun, and I immediately knew I had to try it.

THE BIG SURPRISE!!!

Digging the View over Lake Ocoee

After returning from my motorcycle trip. I mentioned the whitewater rafters, and pulled up a map of Ocoee Tennessee to show my partner the exact location of where I saw the rafters on the Ocoee River alongside US-64.

After looking into it, she was just as excited as I was about trying whitewater rafting for the first time. We found more information and photos about the experience on websites like Whitewater Express.

After planning to make the rafting trip a few times, and things never working out. My partner surprised me with a spontaneous trip to a Cabin in Ocoee on the lake when we both had an open schedule. She even booked our first Whitewater Rafting Excursion with Ocoee Outdoors!

The Cabin we stayed in “Sugarloaf Cabin” (Right) at the Lake Ocoee Inn

THE ARRIVAL

As you pull into Ocoee it’s a rural mountain town in the Smoky’s. There are just a hand full of Mom & Pop’s style restaurants, and the essential businesses needed to keep the town running.

If your looking for luxuries, or Mall Style shopping, with an abundance of eateries to chose from. Just a short 20 minute (15 mile) drive west of Ocoee is the city of Cleveland Tennessee which offers everything you could want.

As we pulled into Lake Ocoee Inn. It had the rustic old mountain town vibe, that makes you feel like you’ve just found a hidden getaway destination, that you want to keep all to yourself.

The Main Office and Check-In Lobby was literally just the modest home of a little old lady. Once we had our Cabin Key we proceeded over to our little mountain cabin on the lake, with one of the most breathtaking views you could ever wish for!

The view from our back patio, overlooking the dock & Lake Ocoee, including a Mountain View of Sugarloaf Mountain Park!

A TOUR OF OUR ROYAL ABODE

Upon entering our cabin, it was clean, and well kept. The staff of the Lake Ocoee Inn thought about stocking it fully with everything you would need to prepare a meal, and clean a home. Most importantly, they didn’t forget the Coffee Maker ☕️! 🤣

View from the Bed, facing the T.V. & the Kitchen
Overlooking the seating area, & Bed (Full Size)
The Guest Bedroom, & Bunkbed (Twin Size)
Inside the bathroom, with a Petite Shower to the right.
The Bathroom also comes with a beautiful view over the Lake, & they provide you with plenty of towels.

Other features of the cabin include: Park Style BBQ Grills outback, porch lights & mosquito torches, a boat rental and marina just to the left of the cabin, and Whitewater rafting tours during peak season, paddle boarding, outdoor furniture, and a shared dock.

WHAT TO WEAR IN COLD WATER

We didn’t go whitewater rafting during peak season, so the water was still extremely cold. Which made the Wetsuit rentals from Ocoee Outdoors amazing. They kept us warm. It was also a rainy day so we opted for the rental jackets as well.

My Partner & I dawning our Cold Water Rental Gear. It kept us warm during our Whitewater Rafting experience

They also recommend that you bring wool, or synthetic undergarments like Polyester, and nylon to wear under your wetsuit. It’s best to avoid anything made from cotton as it removes the heat from your body leaving you cold, because it holds in moisture.

With that knowledge, we stopped and bought Wool Socks from the Nantahala Outdoor Center, which was a one stop shop for all your Rafting, Kayaking, and Canoeing outdoor apparel. The wool socks, along with the rental water boots from Ocoee Outdoors kept our feet warm.

Once we were all bundled up, and prepared for the cold water rafting, we loaded the bus provided by Ocoee Outdoors and headed off to do some rafting!

Geared up & ready for our first Whitewater Rafting Experience!

After a short ride, we were at the put-in location, or launch site for our rafts. With the guide knowing it was our first time. He had us do some practice rafting maneuvers, and rowing techniques on dry ground first.

My partner practicing her Rowing

TIME TO TAKE THE PLUNGE

Time to load the raft & paddle some rapids

Fighting through the initial apprehension of facing a, churning, ice cold raging river, goes away once you start focusing on what you have to do in order to successfully navigate the river.

Whitewaters have classifications, which describe how difficult they are. They range from Class 1 (the easiest) thru Class 6. With the latter, Class 6 being almost certain death ☠️.

The Ocoee River may sound familiar to some of you, because it was featured in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta Georgia, United States 🇺🇸.

A chart of the (Middle) Section of the Ocoee we paddled & each individual sections Difficulty Level

The Ocoee River was home to the 1996 Olympic Games Canoe Slalom. It has Class 1 thru Class 5 Rapids. The section we paddled, the “Middle Ocoee” is mostly Class 3 with four sections of Class 4 rapids.

The Class 3 rapids were engaging & fun

The total length of the whitewater run, from time of put-in, to time of takeout was about 1 hr 30 mins to navigate the 4.5 mile section we paddled. Of course that time included stopping in some of the calmer sections to watch other rafters navigate the rapids as well.

One of the Class 4 rapid sections. Don’t mind me, I’m just the orange helmet on the Right drinking all the water.

If your wondering if I enjoyed the experience, and would I do it again? The answer is most definitely a Yes!

If you can’t tell by my face in this photo, I had a blast!

The scenery along the Ocoee River is breathtakingly beautiful. You eyes can’t get enough of staring at the surrounding mountains, and trees as you come around the bend.

Video of our guide getting our raft to spin in a rapid on the Ocoee River

Thanks to our Expert guide Lashawn from Ocoee Outdoors, we survived the Ocoee River, and had a good time doing it. We were one of the only rafts that didn’t flip over at any point during the rapids.

The only time we were in the water is when we wanted to get out for a break in the calm section of the river. Thanks to Ocoee Outdoors for adding an experience to our list of those that will never be forgotten.

Taking time out to pose for a “Survivors Selfie” after successfully rafting the Ocoee River

DINER FOR TWO

After spending roughly 4 hours on the total experience, including roundtrip bus time, gearing up, and whitewater rafting. We were most definitely ready to eat.

We stopped at a local Italian Restaurant in Benton Tennessee called “The Ocoee Gondolier” the staff fed us good.

My partner & I having dinner at The Ocoee Gondolier

After dinner we went back to our cabin and relaxed on the dock by the water on Lake Ocoee until sunset. After having so much fun for the weekend, neither of us was ready to say goodbye to Ocoee Tennessee.

This Poster on the wall in the guest bedroom said it best

The Roving Gypsy

Thanks for reading & be sure to share it with your friends!

Thanks for reading my Travel Blog, I hope you enjoyed this Whitewater Adventure as much as we did. Like what you read, & want more, or have suggestion? Follow, Share, Comment, & let me know.

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