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August 18th, 2023
Two kids in the front of the raft on river

The Ultimate Guide to Gatlinburg White Water Rafting With Kids

July 17, 2014 August 18th, 2023

White water rafting is one of the most exciting outdoor adventures vacationers can experience in the Smoky Mountains, especially for those traveling with kids. Not only do these adventures help visitors see a whole new side of our scenic mountains, but Gatlinburg white water rafting is also a great bonding experience for groups and families.

Pick the right course

At Smoky Mountain Outdoors, we have designed our courses to not only better serve a variety of skill levels, but we wanted to be able to accommodate a wider age range of guests as well. Because of this, we understand how important it is for families looking to enjoy some time Gatlinburg white water rafting with kids to pick the right river course for their outdoor adventure.

To help you decide, here is a breakdown of both of our Gatlinburg white water rafting courses:

  • Upper Pigeon River

    • Features: 70 rapids ranging from Class I to Class IV (mainly Class III and Class IV)

    • Length: 6 ½ miles, 2 hours

    • Minimum age requirement is 8

Our Upper Pigeon River whitewater rafting course is designed for the thrill seekers who visit us. This adventure offers some of the most challenging rapids that the Pigeon River has to offer.

  • Lower Pigeon River

    • Features: 50 Class I and Class II rapids, and one Class III rapid

    • Length: 5 ½ miles

    • Minimum age requirement is 3

Our Lower Pigeon River whitewater rafting course is designed for families with younger kids looking to experience white water rafting in the Smoky Mountains for the first time. This course is also ideal for guests wanting to enjoy a more relaxing outdoor adventure.

Always wear a lifejacket (or personal flotation device)

Little girl smiling while white water raftingYour guide will go over this in your safety talk, but we wanted to emphasize the value of always wearing a lifejacket to parents planning on Gatlinburg white water rafting with kids. We understand that some younger kids might find the jackets uncomfortable or a nuisance to wear, but for safety purposes we require lifejackets to be worn by all members of your group throughout your entire rafting adventure.

Dress appropriately

Dressing appropriately can really make or break your Gatlinburg white water rafting experience. At Smoky Mountain Outdoors, we encourage our guests to wear light-weight clothing that will dry quickly. This includes avoiding clothing items that are made out of cotton, denim and wool because these fabrics absorb water and will make you cold on the river.

Here is what we suggest guests wear when Gatlinburg white water rafting with kids:

  • Shorts (no jeans)

  • Bathing suit or t-shirt

  • Secure fitting shoes (no flip-flops or bare feet)

Also, don’t forget to pack a dry towel and change of clothes for after your Gatlinburg white water rafting adventure!

Pay attention to safety instruction

Gatlinburg white water rafting gearBefore each trip, our guides walk their group through a 20 minute white water rafting safety instruction talk. The purpose of this talk is to familiarize our guests with all of our Gatlinburg white water rafting equipment, as well as what to expect when you are out on the river.

Listen to the guides

All of our guides have gone through an extensive training program before being allowed to lead their own groups down the river. This training includes a minimum of 15 to 20 trips down the river, as well as certification in standard first aid.

That being said, we cannot stress enough the importance of everyone in in the raft listening and following all of the guide’s instructions. This will ensure that not only will your family have a fun and memorable Gatlinburg white water rafting adventure, but you will have a safe experience as well.

Remember proper swimming techniques

Although you will have a life jacket on the entire time you are on the river, you will still want to make sure your kids are familiar with proper swimming techniques in the unlikely event of the raft tipping over. By going over these techniques, it is also a good way to adequate them with being in the water.

Never panic

For how exciting it can be, Gatlinburg white water rafting for kids can also be a little intimidating for their first time. To ensure that your kids don’t panic or stress out while on the river, try explaining to them what they should expect so they are prepared.

Here is a video that will help show your kids how much fun white water rafting in the Smoky Mountains can be:

Keep medicines close by

Although each of our rafts are equipped with their very own waterproof first aid kit, we do suggest parents of children that require specific medications to keep them close by. That being said, please do keep in mind that everything you bring with you on the river will probably get wet, so remember to wrap up anything that needs to stay dry in a waterproof bag.

Ready to begin planning your next adventure of Gatlinburg white water rafting with kids today? Give us a call at 865-430-3838. Our experienced team will be more than happy to answer any and all questions you and your group or family may have.

For group reservations, please feel free to fill out the Gatlinburg White Water Rafting Group Information form on our website.