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Pigeon River Most Popular Rafting River in the United States

March 26, 2021

The Pigeon River, located in Cocke County, Tennessee within a short drive of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville is the most rafted river in America according to year-end numbers from the 2020 season.  Traditionally, river-use data reported by the America Outdoors Association has ranked Tennessee’s Ocoee River the #1 most rafted river, followed by Colorado’s #2 Arkansas River, then the #3 Pigeon River. The last published America Outdoors Association river use report reflected 2017 numbers.

The Cocke County Clerk’s office reported that the Pigeon River hosted 202,832 commercial guests during the 2020 rafting season. The Arkansas Headwater Recreation area reported 2020 commercial river rafting at 182,005 guests. The Hiawassee / Ocoee River State Park reported 2020 commercial rafting use at 146,039. Tennessee is home to two of the three most popular rafting rivers in America.

Tennessee Department of Revenue figures for 2020 reflect Gross Taxable Amusements Revenues during the rafting season (March through September) at 87% of overall Gross Taxable Amusements Revenues for Cocke and Polke Counties.

“Outdoor activity is very popular these days. We’re delighted to see the growing number of families and visitors unplugging and reconnecting with the natural world around them,” said Daniel Jennette, owner / operator of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Whitewater Rafting on the Pigeon River. “Lifetime memories are being made in Tennessee.”

Just in time for Spring Break, the 2021 Pigeon River rafting season opened March 1, and runs through mid-October.

About America Outdoors Association

AOA is a national trade association providing operational resources and industry advocacy in governmental and national recreation fee policies for adventure travel outfitters, tour companies, outdoor educators, and their suppliers.   The Association was founded in 1991.

About Smoky Mountain Outdoors Whitewater Rafting

Gatlinburg-based Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO) Rafting is family-owned and operated by Daniel and Denise Jennette . Opened in 1993, Smoky Mountain Outdoors is the largest rafting outfitter on the Pigeon River. Located in Hartford, TN, the Pigeon River is the closest whitewater rafting destination to Sevier, Knox, and Blount Counties.