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January 17th, 2023
Three happy people having fun on a Smoky Mountain kayaking trip.

How to Plan a Smoky Mountain Kayaking Trip in 5 Steps

December 17, 2015 January 17th, 2023

We no longer offer inflatable kayaking trips.

Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers an exciting variety of trips down the Pigeon River, including guided inflatable kayak trips. Join us as we travel through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country while experiencing the thrill of conquering white water rapids! Here is how to plan a Smoky Mountain kayaking trip in five steps:

1. Put Together a Group of Friends or Family Members

Kayaking trips are always more fun with a group, so start reaching out to your friends and family members. When you invite everyone to join you on your trip, make sure that you are prepared to give them a brief outline of what they can expect. The paragraph below should be enough to whet their appetite for a kayaking adventure!

Our guided paddling trips take place along the Lower Pigeon River and last about 1 to 1.5 hours. Although our trips are guided, guests navigate their own boat that has been designed to be handled by both novice and experienced kayakers. The professional guides at Smoky Mountain Outdoors will teach you how to approach and play in the rapids, and will provide instruction on techniques such as spinning, surfing, and gliding. Safety is the top priority for all of our trips so you can feel confident on your kayaking adventure with us. All of our guides are certified in Standard First Aid and have participated in our rigorous training program.

(See Also: 5 Reasons Kayaking in Gatlinburg is One of the Top Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains)  

2. Determine If There Are Any RestrictionsA young woman on a Smoky Mountain kayaking trip.

Our Smoky Mountain kayaking trips are open to anyone who is at least 12 years of age and can swim, so please keep this in mind if you’re booking a kayak trip with your family. The good news is that if your children are too young for a kayaking adventure, kids 3 and older can enjoy a whitewater rafting trip on the Lower Pigeon River! We also recommend that women who are more than two months pregnant refrain from taking this trip.

3. Schedule Your Trip Time

When making your Smoky Mountain vacation plans, be sure to schedule your kayaking trip in advance! Kayaking trips start around mid-May and are available through early September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Our kayak trips depart in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Once you have decided on the date of your adventure, contact us for a reservation so that we can guarantee you a spot on the river. We offer online reservations for your convenience, or feel free to call us at 865-430-3838 for booking. Note that our trips go out even in the rain, although we may delay trips during severe weather.

4. Bring Appropriate Gear

Since our kayaking trips are a wet summer or springtime adventure, bring swimsuits or shorts for your trip. In addition, we require that all kayak rafters wear secure shoes with a heel-strap, such as water shoes, tennis shoes, or sports sandals. Please note that flip-flops and bare feet are not permitted on the trip. Other items that you should bring along include a change of clothes, dry shoes, and a towel. Remember to secure all personal items in your vehicle, as anything taken on the kayak trip can get wet or lost.

A group of people enjoying a Smoky Mountain kayaking trip.5. Allow Time to Reach Our Outpost

Smoky Mountain Outdoors is located just 45 minutes north of Gatlinburg, making us the closest whitewater rafting operator to the Smoky Mountain area. This makes an excellent day trip for tourists who are staying in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge! We kindly ask that guests arrive at our outpost at least 1 hour prior to the trip time so that we can gear up and have a safety talk. The trip will begin at the outpost and guests will be shuttled back to the outpost at the end of the trip.

For more information and to make your reservations, check out our Smoky Mountain kayaking trips page!