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November 23rd, 2020
Excited people rafting on the Pigeon River in Tennessee

Pigeon River Ranked #3 Among Top Whitewater Rafting Rivers in the U.S.

January 22, 2015 November 23rd, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Pigeon River is one of the top whitewater rafting rivers in the country! Recently released data from the America Outdoors Association shows that the Pigeon River was the third most visited rafting destination in 2013. Final numbers for the 2014 rafting season will be available in the spring of 2015.

Top 5 Rivers for Whitewater Rafting

The America Outdoors Association (AOA) is an international trade association for adventure travel outfitters, outdoor educators, tour companies, and their suppliers. After processing a year’s worth of data, the AOA announced the top five rivers in 2013 for guided whitewater rafting:

  1. Ocoee River, TN
  2. Arkansas River, CO
  3. Pigeon River, TN
  4. Nantahala River, NC
  5. Lehigh River, PA

The Resurgence of the Pigeon RiverHappy family rafting the Pigeon River

There was a time when the Pigeon River, named after the extinct passenger pigeon, was heavily polluted by area industries. However, the river has experienced a major environmental recovery over the years, and it is now home to a flourishing ecosystem. As part of the Pigeon River’s resurgence, recreational whitewater rafting started to become popular in both the Upper and the Lower parts of the river. Today, the Pigeon River is a major whitewater rafting destination for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure travelers, and families vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon River Growth Statistics

The Pigeon River experienced consistent growth in terms of commercial rafting from 1995 to 2011, far surpassing the growth of other top rivers. The number of annual rafting customer visits to the Pigeon River increased from approximately 18,000 in 1995 to more than 160,000 in 2011, a growth rate of 750 percent! Research from the American Outdoors Association also shows that adventure travel, which includes whitewater rafting, is the fastest growing segment of the country’s tourism industry.

Smoky Mountain Outdoors

Smoky Mountain Outdoors has been providing whitewater rafting adventures since 1993, contributing greatly to the growth of commercial rafting on the Pigeon River over the years. We have set the bar high for safety, service, and fun, offering exciting trips on both the Lower and Upper portions of the Pigeon River.

Family rafting on one of the top whitewater rafting rivers in the country, the Pigeon RiverOur 5.5 mile Lower River Rafting Trip features approximately 50 class 1 and 2 rapids, making it the ideal trip for kids and families with younger children. Meanwhile, our 6.5 mile Upper River Rafting Trip offers 2 hours of exhilarating fun on class 3 and 4 rapids. The best part of all is that no experience is required to take either of our trips!

Each whitewater rafting adventure is fully guided and nearly anyone can participate. Our only requirements are that guests be 8 years old or 70 pounds to take the Upper River trip, or at least 3 years old for the Lower River trip. With so much fun and excitement in a safe environment, it is no wonder why whitewater rafting in Tennessee has been so popular over the years. Come see for yourself why the Pigeon River has been ranked among the top whitewater rafting rivers in the country!

Visit the Smoky Mountain Outdoors Reservations page and save 40% when you schedule your whitewater rafting adventure by February 28, 2015!