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July 16th, 2021
A group of friends enjoying river rafting near Gatlinburg TN.

River Rafting Near Gatlinburg TN: How to Plan Your Trip

October 26, 2016 July 16th, 2021

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States! Blessed with an unparalleled location at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this charming city offers a seemingly endless variety of fun attractions and activities. Here at Smoky Mountain Outdoors, we believe that no getaway in Gatlinburg is complete without a white water rafting adventure on the Pigeon River. To help you make the most of your trip, we have put together a guide to planning a Smoky Mountain vacation that includes river rafting near Gatlinburg TN.

When to Visit the Gatlinburg Area

If taking a white water rafting trip is on your vacation itinerary, be sure to plan your trip to coincide with the rafting season! The Pigeon River is controlled by a dam, so it has a standard schedule of water releases. Here is a look at when you can go river rafting near Gatlinburg TN:

April 30 – May 26: guaranteed water releases on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
May 27 – September 3: guaranteed water releases on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays

If you have any questions about when Smoky Mountain Outdoors schedules its trips, don’t hesitate to give our friendly staff a call! Anyone who can’t make it to Gatlinburg during the spring or summer should check out our guide to the best activities for the white water rafting off season.

Where to Stay Near GatlinburgA cabin next to the water at Pigeon River Campground near Gatlinburg TN.

There is no shortage of places to stay in the Gatlinburg region! The downtown area offers many hotels and condos, while the foothills of the mountains are home to thousands of cabin rentals and chalets. As you consider where to stay, keep in mind that the city of Gatlinburg is about 40 minutes from Smoky Mountain Outdoors.

If you would like to go camping during your vacation, we suggest staying at Pigeon River Campground. Located literally steps away from Smoky Mountain Outdoors, this campground is perfect for folks who can’t wait to get out on the water. Pigeon River Campground offers tent camping, RV hook-ups, and a number of cabins situated right on the Pigeon River. Guests will love being near our rafting outpost, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest.

Which Rafting Trip to Choose

Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers a number of fun ways to go river rafting near Gatlinburg TN. If everyone in your group is at least 8 years old or 70 pounds, we suggest choosing our Upper Pigeon River Rafting Trip. This thrilling ride features roughly 70 rapids ranging from Class 1 to Class 4. No prior experience is necessary, and you don’t even need to know how to swim.

If you are traveling with children who are at least 3 years old but don’t meet the age/weight requirements for the Upper Pigeon River Rafting Trip, consider taking our Lower Pigeon River Rafting Trip. This calm ride features Class 1 and Class 2 rapids and plenty of beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery. The Lower Pigeon River Trip is also great for anyone looking for a relaxing float rather than an exhilarating adventure.

A happy family going river rafting near Gatlinburg TN.In addition to the trips listed above, Smoky Mountain Outdoors also offers expeditions that span both the upper and lower sections of the river, combination rafting trips, and a special Upper Pigeon River Extreme Rafting Trip for guests with some previous rafting experience.

Guests who book their rafting adventures in the off season receive a special discount, so go ahead and reserve your white water rafting trip today!